The Bottom Line
"Haggard Like Never Before" is the first release from the new "Hag Records," as Merle joins the many artists so fed up with major labels they're all starting their own. If you like country music, that simple, plain-spoken, working man music, then you need look no further than Merle Haggard.
- "Haggard (Like I've Never Been Before)"
- "That's The News"
- "Yellow Ribbons"
- First release from the new "Hag Records."
- Duet with Willie Nelson; "Reno Blues."
- Merle Haggard and Lou Bradley.
Guide Review - Merle Haggard - Haggard Like Never Before
Merle Haggard is probably my favorite singer. He is so consistently good, so very straightforward, and so, well, himself, that he's tough not to admire. He has a knack for reaching deep inside to draw out thoughts and feelings so profound they're hard to qualify. It's emotion which is at the very heart of the hard-working and the sorrowful, it touches those who have lost and those who have then found and understand how important that finding is. Merle's moving voice is unscarred by time, still rich and uniquely Merle's, with that little cry and a touch of a growl and the occasional Bob Wills'-
style "ah!" "Haggard Like Never Before," only serves to strengthen my opinion. Merle Haggard holds the banner for country music, the hard-jawed working man who has never backed down nor compromised.
All-new material graces an album seeped in Merle's personal life as well as plain old country tradition. Most of the songs are Merle compositions, with an old blues tune, "Garbage Man," and an old western story-song (which he's done before, with Bonnie Owens), "Reno Blues (Philadelphia Lawyer)," thrown into the mix. Willie Nelson sings along on "Reno Blues," giving what I think is the finest of his recent duet performance.
If you like country music, that simple, plain-spoken, working man music, then you need look no further than Merle Haggard.