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Merle Haggard - Hag / Someday We'll Look Back

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Hag / Someday We'll Look Back

Merle Haggard

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In early 2006, roughly in time for the 40th anniversary of Merle Haggard's debut album, Capitol Nashville launched an ambitious Haggard catalog project, reissuing ten albums as a series of five two-fers, each adorned with bonus tracks. All these albums had been reissued before, either stateside by Capitol or Koch or in the U.K. by EMI or BGO, but they've never have been given such an excellent treatment as they are here. The albums are paired together in logical, chronological order, the 24-bit digital remastering gives these recordings the best sound they've ever had, the front cover artwork is reproduced for each album on a two-fer, and the liner notes are candid and detailed. Dedicated Hag fans certainly have nearly all this material in their collection -- not only have the albums been on CD, but the bonus tracks have by and large appeared on Bear Family's box Untamed Hawk, which chronicled his early work for Capitol, or showed up on Capitol's own box, Down Every Road -- but they still may be tempted by this series, since these discs not only sound and look terrific, but they're also more listenable than any previous CD incarnation of these classic albums. And make no mistake, all ten albums featured in Capitol Nashville's first wave of Haggard reissues in February 2006 are classic albums; some may be a little stronger than others, but there's not a weak one in the bunch, and they all stand as some of the finest music of their time. The fifth two-fer of the initial wave paired Merle's two 1971 albums, Hag and Someday We'll Look Back, two terrific, reflective records. Arriving after the superb Bob Wills salute Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World, Hag was Haggard's first collection of largely original songs in two years, since 1969's Portrait. Since that album, Haggard experienced great success with "Okie from Muskogee," which launched two quick live albums (one bearing the name of the song, the other being The Fightin' Side of Me), plus an instrumental album by the Strangers, before the labor of love of the Wills album. Perhaps Haggard had a great stock of songs saved up during those two years, because Hag is one of his absolute best albums -- which means a lot, because he recorded no shortage of great records. In contrast to the rowdy live albums and the raucous Western swing that preceded it, Hag is quite quiet and reflective, sometimes referencing the turmoil within America at the end of the '60s, but more often finding Haggard turning inward. This album turned out no less than four hits, with three of them addressing larger issues: the revival of Ernest Tubb's WWII hit "Soldier's Last Letter" is now cast in the shadow of Vietnam, Haggard's original "Jesus, Take a Hold" ponders the state of the world, while Dave Kirby's "Sidewalks of Chicago" is about homelessness. The other hit was "I Can't Be Myself," a haunting admission that the singer "can't be myself when I'm with you," and it's only one of many great originals on Hag. The tempo picks up twice, each time at the end of the side, when he kicks out the self-deprecating "I'm a Good Loser" and the nostalgic rave-up "I've Done It All," but the heart of this is in the gentler material, such as the melancholic elegy of "Shelly's Winter Love," the sighing heartbreak ballad "If You've Got Time," and "The Farmer's Daughter," an affecting tale of a father giving away his daughter in marriage. Each is an expertly observed, richly textured gem, and taken together they add up to one of Haggard's best albums, and one of his most moving. Someday We'll Look Back follows through on the spirit of Hag. Like that record, much of Someday We'll Look Back is devoted to ballads, including both lush, string-laden country-pop crossovers and simple, folky tunes, but there are also hints of twangy Bakersfield honky tonk and blues, as well as Western swing. But what really makes the record so distinctive is the quality of the material. Haggard's original songs -- including "Someday We'll Look Back," the richly evocative "Tulare Dust," "I'd Rather Be Gone," "One Sweet Hello" -- are uniformly excellent, while he invests considerable emotion into covers of Tommy Collins' "Carolyn," Dallas Frazier and Elizabeth Montgomery's "California Cottonfields," and Roger Miller's "Train of Life." The result is one of the finest albums he ever recorded, and when it's paired with Hag on this two-fer, it makes for absolutely essential listening.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Hag / Someday We'll Look Back

Merle Haggard

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1
Soldier's Last Letter (2006 Remaster)
00:02:12

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist - Redd Stewart, Composer - The Strangers, MainArtist - Ernest Tubb, Composer

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

2
Shelly's Winter Love (2005 Remaster)
00:03:23

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

3
Jesus, Take A Hold (Remastered 2005)
00:02:17

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

4
I Can't Be Myself (2005 Remaster)
00:02:51

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

5
I'm A Good Loser (2005 Remaster)
00:02:41

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

6
The Sidewalks Of Chicago (2005 Remaster)
00:02:30

Dave Kirby, ComposerLyricist - Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

7
No Reason To Quit (2006 Remaster)
00:02:36

Dean Holloway, Composer - Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

8
If You've Got Time (To Say Goodbye) (2005 Remaster)
00:02:54

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

9
The Farmer's Daughter (2005 Remaster)
00:02:56

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

10
I've Done It All (2005 Remaster)
00:02:15

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

11
I Ain't Got Nobody
00:02:10

Roger Graham, ComposerLyricist - Spencer Williams, ComposerLyricist - Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

12
I'll Be A Hero (When I Strike)
00:02:02

Red Lane, Composer - Hank Cochran, Composer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

13
Trouble In Mind
00:03:15

Merle Haggard, MainArtist - Richard M. Jones, Composer

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 1970 Capitol Records Nashville

14
Someday We'll Look Back (2005 Remaster)
00:02:32

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

15
Train Of Life (2005 Remaster)
00:02:44

Ken Nelson, Producer - Roger Miller, Composer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

16
One Sweet Hello (2005 Remaster)
00:02:48

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

17
One Row At A Time (2005 Remaster)
00:03:07

Dottie West, Composer - Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist - Hollis De Laughter, Composer

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

18
Big Time Annie's Square (2005 Remaster)
00:02:35

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

19
I'd Rather Be Gone (2005 Remaster)
00:02:36

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

20
California Cottonfields (2005 Remaster)
00:02:47

Earl Montgomery, Composer - Ken Nelson, Producer - Dallas Frazier, Composer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

21
Carolyn
00:02:35

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist - Tommy Collins, ComposerLyricist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

22
Tulare Dust (2005 Remaster)
00:01:49

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

23
Huntsville (2005 Remaster)
00:03:08

Red Simpson, Composer - Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

24
The Only Trouble With Me (2005 Remaster)
00:03:11

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

25
Spanish Two Step
00:02:55

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist - Bob Wills, Composer

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 2006 Capitol Records Nashville

26
Worried, Unhappy, Lonesome And Sorry
00:02:46

Merle Haggard, Composer, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc.. ℗ 1996 Capitol Records Nashville

Album Description

In early 2006, roughly in time for the 40th anniversary of Merle Haggard's debut album, Capitol Nashville launched an ambitious Haggard catalog project, reissuing ten albums as a series of five two-fers, each adorned with bonus tracks. All these albums had been reissued before, either stateside by Capitol or Koch or in the U.K. by EMI or BGO, but they've never have been given such an excellent treatment as they are here. The albums are paired together in logical, chronological order, the 24-bit digital remastering gives these recordings the best sound they've ever had, the front cover artwork is reproduced for each album on a two-fer, and the liner notes are candid and detailed. Dedicated Hag fans certainly have nearly all this material in their collection -- not only have the albums been on CD, but the bonus tracks have by and large appeared on Bear Family's box Untamed Hawk, which chronicled his early work for Capitol, or showed up on Capitol's own box, Down Every Road -- but they still may be tempted by this series, since these discs not only sound and look terrific, but they're also more listenable than any previous CD incarnation of these classic albums. And make no mistake, all ten albums featured in Capitol Nashville's first wave of Haggard reissues in February 2006 are classic albums; some may be a little stronger than others, but there's not a weak one in the bunch, and they all stand as some of the finest music of their time. The fifth two-fer of the initial wave paired Merle's two 1971 albums, Hag and Someday We'll Look Back, two terrific, reflective records. Arriving after the superb Bob Wills salute Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World, Hag was Haggard's first collection of largely original songs in two years, since 1969's Portrait. Since that album, Haggard experienced great success with "Okie from Muskogee," which launched two quick live albums (one bearing the name of the song, the other being The Fightin' Side of Me), plus an instrumental album by the Strangers, before the labor of love of the Wills album. Perhaps Haggard had a great stock of songs saved up during those two years, because Hag is one of his absolute best albums -- which means a lot, because he recorded no shortage of great records. In contrast to the rowdy live albums and the raucous Western swing that preceded it, Hag is quite quiet and reflective, sometimes referencing the turmoil within America at the end of the '60s, but more often finding Haggard turning inward. This album turned out no less than four hits, with three of them addressing larger issues: the revival of Ernest Tubb's WWII hit "Soldier's Last Letter" is now cast in the shadow of Vietnam, Haggard's original "Jesus, Take a Hold" ponders the state of the world, while Dave Kirby's "Sidewalks of Chicago" is about homelessness. The other hit was "I Can't Be Myself," a haunting admission that the singer "can't be myself when I'm with you," and it's only one of many great originals on Hag. The tempo picks up twice, each time at the end of the side, when he kicks out the self-deprecating "I'm a Good Loser" and the nostalgic rave-up "I've Done It All," but the heart of this is in the gentler material, such as the melancholic elegy of "Shelly's Winter Love," the sighing heartbreak ballad "If You've Got Time," and "The Farmer's Daughter," an affecting tale of a father giving away his daughter in marriage. Each is an expertly observed, richly textured gem, and taken together they add up to one of Haggard's best albums, and one of his most moving. Someday We'll Look Back follows through on the spirit of Hag. Like that record, much of Someday We'll Look Back is devoted to ballads, including both lush, string-laden country-pop crossovers and simple, folky tunes, but there are also hints of twangy Bakersfield honky tonk and blues, as well as Western swing. But what really makes the record so distinctive is the quality of the material. Haggard's original songs -- including "Someday We'll Look Back," the richly evocative "Tulare Dust," "I'd Rather Be Gone," "One Sweet Hello" -- are uniformly excellent, while he invests considerable emotion into covers of Tommy Collins' "Carolyn," Dallas Frazier and Elizabeth Montgomery's "California Cottonfields," and Roger Miller's "Train of Life." The result is one of the finest albums he ever recorded, and when it's paired with Hag on this two-fer, it makes for absolutely essential listening.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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