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Merle Haggard|Mama Tried/ Pride In What I Am

Mama Tried/ Pride In What I Am

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 fourth of these two-fers pairs his last album of 1968, Mama Tried, plus his first from 1969, Pride in What I Am. Mama Tried has a loose prison theme, with about a third of the album sung from the perspective of a prisoner. Chief among these is Haggard's masterpiece "Mama Tried," a semi-autobiographical tribute to a mother who couldn't steer her son right no matter how hard she tried, but covers of Porter Wagoner's "Green Green Grass of Home" and Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," plus Mel Tillis' "I Could Have Gone Right," also give the album a loose theme, but this is hardly a concept album. The rest of the album contains lean, tough Bakersfield honky tonk like "Little Ole Wine Drinker Me" and an excellent cover of Lefty Frizzell's "Run 'Em Off," plus such bittersweet, folky tunes as a cover of Dolly Parton's "In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)." There are also a number of excellent, often overlooked originals like "I'll Always Know," "The Sunny Side of My Life," and "You'll Never Love Me Now," which illustrate the progression in both Haggard's writing and his music, and help make Mama Tried one of his very best records. As good as Mama Tried is, it's matched by Pride in What I Am. While there are no hits outside of "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am" the album gains considerable strength from its diverse material. The rolling, folk-tinged sound epitomized by the title song is balanced by twangy, spare country and bits of hard honky tonk, blues, and cowboy, not to mention the slyly inventive arrangement on his version of Lefty Frizzell's "It Meant Goodbye to Me When You Said Hello to Him." There are also hints of the direction Hag would take in the near future, including a Jimmie Rodgers song (his tribute to the singing brakeman, Same Train, Different Time, would follow next), and the encroaching celebration of a time passed, through his cover of Red Simpson's "I Think We're Livin' in the Good Old Days." There is another Simpson cover in "Somewhere on Skid Row," but what fuels Pride in What I Am is a selection of graceful, low-key minor masterworks from Haggard himself, who explores gentler territory with "The Day the Rains Came" and "I Can't Hold Myself in Line," while kicking up the tempo with the delightful "I'm Bringin' Home Good News" and lying back with the steady-rolling "I Just Want to Look at You One More Time." None of these may be among his most commonly celebrated songs, but they're all small gems that illustrate what a fine songwriter he is. They also help form the core of this subtly adventurous, rich album that may not be among his flashiest, but is another excellent record by one of the most reliable recording artists in country history. And when it's paired with Mama Tried, it makes for a two-fer that very well may be the strongest disc in Capitol Nashville's initial installment of Haggard reissues.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Mama Tried/ Pride In What I Am

Merle Haggard

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1
Mama Tried
00:02:14

Merle Haggard, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

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

2
Green Green Grass Of Home
00:03:14

Merle Haggard, MainArtist - Curly Putman, ComposerLyricist

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

3
Little Ole Wine Drinker Me
00:02:39

Hank Mills, ComposerLyricist - Will Jennings, ComposerLyricist - Merle Haggard, MainArtist

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

4
In The Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)
00:02:46

Dolly Parton, ComposerLyricist - Merle Haggard, MainArtist

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

5
I Could Have Gone Right
00:02:33

Mel Tillis, ComposerLyricist - Merle Haggard, MainArtist

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

6
I'll Always Know
00:02:22

Merle Haggard, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc. ℗ 1968 Capitol Records Nashville

7
The Sunny Side Of My Life
00:02:13

Merle Haggard, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc. ℗ 1968 Capitol Records Nashville

8
Teach Me To Forget
00:03:15

Merle Haggard, MainArtist - Leon Payne, ComposerLyricist

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

9
Folsom Prison Blues
00:02:49

Johnny Cash, ComposerLyricist - Merle Haggard, MainArtist

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

10
Run 'Em Off
00:02:52

Merle Haggard, MainArtist - Onie Wheeler, ComposerLyricist - Tony Lee, ComposerLyricist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc. ℗ 1968 Capitol Records Nashville

11
You'll Never Love Me Now
00:02:47

Merle Haggard, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc. ℗ 1968 Capitol Records Nashville

12
Too Many Bridges To Cross Over
00:02:27

Dallas Frazier, ComposerLyricist - Merle Haggard, MainArtist

(C) 2006 Capitol Records, Inc. ℗ 1968 Capitol Records Nashville

13
I'm Looking For My Mind
00:02:10

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

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

14
You're Not Home Yet
00:02:40

Ken Nelson, Producer - Hank Cochran, ComposerLyricist - Merle Haggard, MainArtist

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

15
I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am (2005 Remaster)
00:02:49

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

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

16
Who'll Buy The Wine (2005 Remaster)
00:02:35

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

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

17
The Day The Rains Came (2005 Remaster)
00:02:42

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

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

18
It Meant Goodbye To Me When You Said Hello To Him (2005 Remaster)
00:02:34

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist - Lefty Frizzell, ComposerLyricist - Abe Mulkey, ComposerLyricist

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

19
I Can't Hold Myself In Line (2005 Remaster)
00:02:55

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

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

20
I'm Bringin' Home Good News (2005 Remaster)
00:02:50

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

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

21
Keep Me From Cryin' Today (2005 Remaster)
00:03:00

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

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

22
I Just Want To Look At You One More Time (2005 Remaster)
00:03:06

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

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

23
Somewhere On Skid Row (2005 Remaster)
00:02:52

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

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

24
I'm Free (2005 Remaster)
00:01:57

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

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

25
California Blues (Blue Yodel #4) (2005 Remaster)
00:02:52

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

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

26
I Think We're Livin' In The Good Old Days (2005 Remaster)
00:02:06

Dean Holloway, ComposerLyricist - Red Simpson, ComposerLyricist - Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist - The Strangers, MainArtist

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

27
California On My Mind
00:02:40

Ken Nelson, Producer - Merle Haggard, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

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

28
White Line Fever
00:02:48

Merle Haggard, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Charles "Fuzzy" Owen, Producer - The Strangers, MainArtist

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

29
Streets Of Berlin
00:02:48

Merle Haggard, MainArtist - Charles "Fuzzy" Owen, ComposerLyricist - Wally Lewis, ComposerLyricist

(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 fourth of these two-fers pairs his last album of 1968, Mama Tried, plus his first from 1969, Pride in What I Am. Mama Tried has a loose prison theme, with about a third of the album sung from the perspective of a prisoner. Chief among these is Haggard's masterpiece "Mama Tried," a semi-autobiographical tribute to a mother who couldn't steer her son right no matter how hard she tried, but covers of Porter Wagoner's "Green Green Grass of Home" and Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," plus Mel Tillis' "I Could Have Gone Right," also give the album a loose theme, but this is hardly a concept album. The rest of the album contains lean, tough Bakersfield honky tonk like "Little Ole Wine Drinker Me" and an excellent cover of Lefty Frizzell's "Run 'Em Off," plus such bittersweet, folky tunes as a cover of Dolly Parton's "In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)." There are also a number of excellent, often overlooked originals like "I'll Always Know," "The Sunny Side of My Life," and "You'll Never Love Me Now," which illustrate the progression in both Haggard's writing and his music, and help make Mama Tried one of his very best records. As good as Mama Tried is, it's matched by Pride in What I Am. While there are no hits outside of "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am" the album gains considerable strength from its diverse material. The rolling, folk-tinged sound epitomized by the title song is balanced by twangy, spare country and bits of hard honky tonk, blues, and cowboy, not to mention the slyly inventive arrangement on his version of Lefty Frizzell's "It Meant Goodbye to Me When You Said Hello to Him." There are also hints of the direction Hag would take in the near future, including a Jimmie Rodgers song (his tribute to the singing brakeman, Same Train, Different Time, would follow next), and the encroaching celebration of a time passed, through his cover of Red Simpson's "I Think We're Livin' in the Good Old Days." There is another Simpson cover in "Somewhere on Skid Row," but what fuels Pride in What I Am is a selection of graceful, low-key minor masterworks from Haggard himself, who explores gentler territory with "The Day the Rains Came" and "I Can't Hold Myself in Line," while kicking up the tempo with the delightful "I'm Bringin' Home Good News" and lying back with the steady-rolling "I Just Want to Look at You One More Time." None of these may be among his most commonly celebrated songs, but they're all small gems that illustrate what a fine songwriter he is. They also help form the core of this subtly adventurous, rich album that may not be among his flashiest, but is another excellent record by one of the most reliable recording artists in country history. And when it's paired with Mama Tried, it makes for a two-fer that very well may be the strongest disc in Capitol Nashville's initial installment of Haggard reissues.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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