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Merle Haggard

Down Every Road 1962-1994 – 1996 (Capitol Nashville)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Merle Haggard

Capitol has been more than a little tardy in realizing the value of Merle's back catalogue, but this project was worth the wait. Though it ignores Merle's career after 1986, except for "In My Next Life" (from 1993), you get 100 tracks of classic Haggard over four discs - five previously unreleased- as well as an excellent 74-page book. Of special note is the A-side of Merle's ultra-rare first single (only 200 copies exist), "Skid Row" and an unreleased version of "Trouble In Mind" from the 1970 sessions which produced Merle's classic Bob Wills tribute album; an album which kicked off a western swing revival which continues to this day. Thoughthe set glosses over the past 10 years of Merle's distinguished career (a fifth disc really would have been justified in Hag's case), it remains an essential purchase for fans of Merle Haggard or the Bakersfield sound. Highly recommended.