DIARY - 26/11/2006 - MERLE HAGGARD CD REVIEW
HAGGARD FROM THE VAULT
legend Merle Haggard has been touring with Bob Dylan, recording with George
Jones and returned to his embryonic label Capitol for a couple of CDS.
Sadly, none of those have been released here in Australia so we'll return
to the start of the millenium for a review of his last local release of
HAGGARD CD REVIEW - 2000
IF I COULD ONLY FLY (ANTI-EPITAPH-SHOCK)
Haggard doesn't have to borrow a book or surf the net to source
There's been enough marital mayhem, prison, dope and daily drama
in his 63 years to fill two auto-biographies, a bio-pic, four tribute
albums and countless other books and documentaries.
Now Merle has followed the lead of peers Johnny Cash, Waylon &
Willie and David Allan Coe and cut his new album for an alternate
label - Anti-Epitaph- Shock)
may have just been discovered by the cafe latte set but he has now
released more than 150 albums including two current gospel discs,
a Live At Billy Bob's and another 43-track compilation.
is his first mainstream studio album since his widely lauded 1994 and
1996 discs which were ignored by radio.
Haggard sets the tone with Wishing All These Old Things Were New
- kicking a yearning for long past dazed days.
"Watching some old friends do a line/ holding back the want to end
my own addicted mind/ wishing it was still the thing I could do/ wishing
all these old things were new."
It's this soul bearing, reflected in career spanning five decades, that
makes Merle a credible character and mentor to so many.
It embraces original tunes Turn To Me, Crazy Moon and the assertive
but rollicking swing saga Bareback.
recorded Blaze Foley's soul-searching title track with Willie Nelson on
their 1987 disc Seashores Of Old Mexico and sang it at Tammy Wynette's
Ironically, the evocative song was penned two decades ago by Foley who
was murdered on February 1, 1989, by a man named January.
The mellow side of Haggard is exposed in the apologetic I'm Still Your
Daddy - sequel to Branded Man, Lonesome Fugitive and many others
- written to the children of his fifth marriage.
Singing spouse Theresa and children Ben and Jenessa harmonise as Merle
croons - "I knew some day you'd find out about San Quentin/ and your
heart would break/ and your faith would go away."
But Haggard, unlike many peers, is saved - but not by a higher being.
"It's true I've done some time in prison/ let be the first to tell
you I was wrong/ that was back when I was wild/ back when I was just a
child/ back before your mama came along."
Merle further exposes his passion for Theresa in Proud To Be Your Old
Man and Leaving's Getting Harder while Thanks To Uncle John
is built on the foundations of Mama Tried and segues into the
lonesome finale Listening To The Wind.
And, like his self produced 1996 disc, he uses members of his road band
Abe Manuel Jr on guitar, harp and fiddle, steel player Norm Hamlet and
drummer Biff Adams.
This time his road guitarist Red Volkaert struts his stuff on tunes reaching
back as far as Honky Tonk Mama which was recorded by two time Louisiana
Governor Jimmie Davis, now 101, back in 1933.
It's ironic Haggard, one of the original outlaws, is getting a big push
because he is on a punk label.
Unlike the punks he lived life on the edge 40 years ago and can still
Haggard returned to embryonic label Capitol for a trip down nostalgia
lane in the style of soul mate Willie on Unforgettable (EMI).
Merle croons through pop staples from Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael
and Arthur Hamilton's Cry Me A River.
Haggard breaks up the pop with Cindy Walker's Goin' Away Party,
a co-write with fifth wife Theresa on What Love Can Do and
Still Missing You featuring its writer Freddie Powers on
Guitarist Abe Manuel provides accordion and fiddle with brother
Joe and veteran Red Volkaert also on guitar.
A dose of
sax, trombone and strings replaces pedal steel on a 12-track disc produced
by Powers with Bruce Springsteen's sister Pamela credited with Merle's
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