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Essential Merle Haggard: The Epic Years
     

The Essential Merle Haggard: The Epic Years

by Merle Haggard
 

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Since there have been so many Merle Haggard compilations released over the years, it's easy to assume that his stint at Epic Records in the '80s is well documented, but that's not necessarily the case. First of all, many of the proper studio albums are either long out of print or have never made it to CD, so it's hard to hear the entirety of his catalog, and secondly,

Overview

Since there have been so many Merle Haggard compilations released over the years, it's easy to assume that his stint at Epic Records in the '80s is well documented, but that's not necessarily the case. First of all, many of the proper studio albums are either long out of print or have never made it to CD, so it's hard to hear the entirety of his catalog, and secondly, there just haven't been that many hits collections, and those aren't entirely satisfying either. Apart from 1984's His Epic Hits: First Eleven to Be Continued, released partway through his time at the label, there has been only one other U.S.-released compilation, 1990's Greatest Hits of the 80's, which covered the same territory, but not any better. So, it's been a full 20 years since there's been a good collection of Merle's Epic recordings released in America. In the meantime, Edsel released the excellent collection Yesterday's Wine 1981-1988 in 1998, which ran a generous 24 tracks and contained the bulk of his best work for the label. Given the length of that collection, it's not surprising that Epic/Legacy's 2004 The Essential Merle Haggard: The Epic Years, the first domestic comp in 14 years, has a lot of overlap with it -- in fact, 11 of the 14 songs on this compilation are also on Yesterday's Wine (the ones exclusive to Essential are "I Always Get Lucky With You," "I Had a Beautiful Time," and "The Okie from Muskogee's Comin' Home"). So, if you already own that, this isn't necessary, but Yesterday's Wine is difficult to find, going out of print just a few years after its release, so this becomes the best overview of Hag's Epic years on the market. At only 14 tracks, it's not as exhaustive as the Edsel disc, but this contains all the big songs -- "Big City," "Are the Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver)," "Let's Chase Each Other Around the Room," "That's the Way Love Goes," "Pancho and Lefty," and "Going Where the Lonely Go" -- and is a highly entertaining listen, making it an excellent overview and introduction to an underrated phase of Haggard's rich career.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/31/2004
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0827969056820
catalogNumber:
90568

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Merle Haggard   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals,Musician
Buddy Emmons   Keyboards
Chet Atkins   Guitar
Johnny Gimble   Fiddle,Mandolin
Tiny Moore   Fiddle,Mandolin,Musician
Willie Nelson   Guitar,Background Vocals
Roger Cook   Background Vocals
Steve Gibson   Guitar
Judy Rodman   Background Vocals
Grady Martin   Guitar
Bobby Wood   Keyboards,Background Vocals
Mickey Raphael   Harmonica
Biff Adam   Drums,Musician
Pete Bordonali   Guitar
Johnny Christopher   Guitar,Background Vocals
Gary Church   Horn
Ray Edenton   Guitar
Bobby Emmons   Keyboards
Mary Fielder   Background Vocals
Gregg Galbraith   Guitar
Norm Hamlet   Dobro,Steel Guitar,Musician
Dave Kirby   Guitar
Red Lane   Guitar
Mike Leech   Bass
Kenny Malone   Bass
Don Markham   Horn,Musician
Terry McMillan   Harmonica
Chips Moman   Guitar
Weldon Myrick   Steel Guitar
Roy Nichols   Guitar,Harmonica,Musician
Bonnie Owens   Background Vocals
Freddy Powers   Guitar,Background Vocals
Hargus "Pig" Robbins   Keyboards
Billy Sanford   Guitar
Clint Strong   Guitar
Lewis Talley   Guitar
Bobby Thompson   Guitar
Leona Williams   Background Vocals
Mark Yeary   Keyboards,Musician
Reggie Young   Guitar
Slyde Hyde   Horn
Dennis Hromek   Bass,Musician
Jim Belken   Fiddle,Musician
Bobby Wayne   Guitar
Donna Faye   Background Vocals
Jon Joice   Background Vocals
Joe Chemise   Background Vocals
Jimmy Haas   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Lefty Frizzell   Composer
Merle Haggard   Composer,Producer
Willie Nelson   Composer,Producer
Ray Baker   Producer
Gary Church   Composer
Chips Moman   Producer
Freddy Powers   Composer
Ron Reynolds   Producer
Gilly Sherill   Producer
Ken Suesov   Producer
Lewis Talley   Producer
Townes Van Zandt   Composer
Leona Williams   Composer
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
Sheril Rodgers   Composer
Tex Whitson   Composer
Dean Holloway   Composer
Bridget McGoldrick   Packaging Manager
Angus Baley   Liner Notes

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