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The Lonesome Fugitive: The Merle Haggard Anthology (1973-1977)
Genres: Country, Pop, Rock
Of the 40 songs included in this two-CD overview, 39 made the country charts and a remarkable 22 peaked at No. 1. The collection opens with four early Tally hits, but Haggard truly hits his stride when he begins penning hi... more »
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Of the 40 songs included in this two-CD overview, 39 made the country charts and a remarkable 22 peaked at No. 1. The collection opens with four early Tally hits, but Haggard truly hits his stride when he begins penning his own songs for Capitol in 1965. Songs of family and faith accompany honky-tonk drinking anthems, incendiary (if not sarcastic) anti-hippie rants, and poignant stories of rebellion, prison life, and loneliness. Backed by the talented Strangers, Haggard created an emotionally honest and directly delivered style of country that, along with Buck Owens's work, came to define the Bakersfield sound. The drawback of focusing on Hag's original hits, however, is the omission of his inspired tributes to legends such as Jimmie Rodgers. --Marc Greilsamer
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Authentic, enjoyable, and classic Country-Western music
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 02/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As country music has grown in popularity, my dislike of it has grown. As the public has embraced such performers as Garth Brooks and all those who followed in his wake, the more the genre has loosened its grip on my imagination. For me, real country music means George Jones, Left Frizzell, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams (not Jr.), Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Snow, the Louvin Brothers, the young Dolly Parton, and a host of other classic country performers.Today's country music strikes me as rootless, as emanating from nowhere in particular. Most of my relatives come from Arkansas hill country, as rural as they come. If they had decided to leave for California in the 1930s, they could easily have passed for the Arkies in THE GRAPES OF WRATH. But there was a genuine, visceral connection between the music they listened to and their lives. Not so today. What real connection do Brooks and Dunn have with country folk? I admire the Dixie Chicks for their political stand, and I don't dislike their music, but they seem more urban than country. Merle Haggard is the real deal. You listen to him and you are convinced that he knows about picking cotton and driving a tractor. He sounds like one familiar with outhouses and tin roofs and gravel roads an army of flies on a front porch in the middle of July. The experiences are real, and the emotions are real. Perhaps he has never been himself a hunted fugitive, but his background and life helps him sell it. This isn't polished country, not by today's all-too-slick standards. But it is tremendously real. I won't defend every song on the album. Some of the songs border on corn; "Okie from Muskogee" represents the worst form of patriotism (though he has largely redeemed himself in this regard with his recent song about the injustices done by the current government in sending the troops to Iraq for unjustified reasons). But the songs are consistently good, and several are great, and Merle's singing always strong and deeply emotional.Not all of the current generation of country singers have forsaken the country tradition. Iris Dement would have been marvelous in whatever decade she was in (a fellow Arkie, I might add). But I think by and large most young performers would produce better country music if they took Merle Haggard as their inspiration rather than the pabulum performers infesting the airwaves today."
WHEN YOU SAY MERLE HAGGARD,, YOU'VE SAID IT ALL.
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I GREW UP ON MERLE HAGGARD MUSIC ALL MY LIFE. I'M 55 YEARS OLD AND I STILL GO TO HIS CONCERTS. THIS 2 CD COLLECTION HAS ALL THE SONGS OF THE WORKING MAN,THE SOLDIER,AND ANY OTHER CLASS OF PEOPLE THERE IS. WHEN MERLE RECORDED "OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE" LIVE IN MUSKOGEE,OKLA.IN 1969 CARLTON HANEY,THE GREATEST COUNTRY MUSIC PROMOTER THERE IS, TOLD IT LIKE IT IS,MERLE PUTS HIS LIFE INTO THE SONGS HE SINGS.THE SONGS IN THIS 2CD COLLECTION TELLS OF "HAGS" LIFE. WHEN YOU LISTEN TO HIS SONGS YOU KNOW HE HAS BEEN DOWN THAT ROAD.SO YOU SEE IT'S VERY PLAIN "THE HAG" IS #1 WITH ME. IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE ONE COLLECTION FROM MERLE HAGGARD, THIS WOULD BE IT. I'M FROM HENRYETTA,OKLA. A SHORT WAYS FROM MUSKOGEE. IKNOW THE AREA WHERE MERLE'S FAMILY LIVED BACK THEN. I WOULD HATE TO HAVE TO CHOOSE A FAVORITE BUT IF I DID MERLE HAGGARD WOULD BE AT THE VERY TOP. THANK YOU VERY MUCH."
The best Merle Haggard collection from his best period
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Merle Haggard is one of the true giants of country music; if they built a Mount Rushmore of male country legends, he'd certainly be one of the heads, along with Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and George Jones. Of all the anthologies out there, the best and most concise choice has to be this collection, "The Lonesome Fugitive."First of all, it collects all the major singles from his years with Capitol Records. I should warn you that his tenure at Capitol is considered to be one of the greatest, most consistent bodies of work in country music, and real die-hard fans of Merle often end up buying most if not all his albums from this period. But, if you want a "best of" that skims the cream of the crop, this is the place to go.
The title track, "Okie From Muskogee," "Working Man Blues"...almost all these tracks are country music classics of the traditional sort. No countrypolitan, no orchestral arrangements...this is rootsy music with a hard kick to it (some critics like Dave Marsh and the compiler, Jimmy Guterman, even qualify this stuff as rock music). Lyrically, Haggard proves himself to be on the best in country. He sings about the working class, politics ( "Okie From Muskogee" can either be seen as satire or a right-wing anthem, depending on your view), and even criminals. In all of his songs, he uses eloquent words and sings a hard truth without embellishing too much or getting too sentimental. On top of all that, this collection has great sound, thanks to that amazing audiophile, mastering engineer, Steve Hoffman.One may wish to get the three CD box set that covers the same time period, or even pick up the albums themselves (Merle made great tribute albums, and you'll definitely want to check out the ones he made to Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills). But, if you just want a good overview or a good entry point, you can't possibly go wrong with "The Lonesome Fugitive" collection."