Merle Haggard Album Recommendations

I've belatedly become a fan.

What recordings should I own?
"Let me Tell You About a Song"
"Okie from Muskogee"
"The Fightin' Side of Me" name a'll get numerous other suggestions...
I have one of his greatest hits cd's, the one with Merle and Willie sing Luckenbach,Tx. , man what a song. Has to be one of the all time greatest.
ain't nobody feelin' no pain
A must have IMHO is Merle and Willie Nelson "Pancho and Lefty".

. . . man am I glad you posted this question. I picked up "Pancho and Lefty" a few months ago and every time I listen to it I keep thinking Merle has a fantastic voice, I gotta get more by him. I'll be picking up some of the suggestions here for my own collection.
Kern River is by far my favorite.

CD is hard to find, great recording.
Second, Kern River. Also, if you like Merle Haggard, give Joe Nichols a try. I think he has the best male voice in country music in recent history, although his choice of material has not always been the best. However, his "Revelation" album is quite good and he is certainly influenced by Merle. Also, if you want to go back to Merle's influences, you can try Lefty Frizell and Vern Gosdin.
Thanks for your suggestions. Here's a link to what purports to be the entire discography.
'Down Every Road" Box Set is a good one. $26 on Amazon is allot of Hag for your money.

Merle Haggard is the real deal. His writing and singing reek with authenticity. When he sings "I turned 21 in prison doin life without parole" you know that he knows what despair and helplessness feels like. He captures the working mans condition with an efficiency in words like no other. One of my favorite songs is "If we make through December". A simple poem with simple words but a real tear jerker.

If you like Hag then I recommend Waylon Jennings. Another guy who can really sing. Anything either one of these guys sing with Willie are classics.
there are plenty of somgwriters in this world, some are special indeed. then there are songwriters' songwriters. Dylan, Prine, W. Nelson... and Merle.

merle Haggard has to be a songwriters' songwriter. No question.

Despite the constraints of the 'country' music genre, or because of it, his songs span the casam of cultural differences, and propell 'Americana' to enjoy now, more than ever before widespread appeal. it's easy to see that Lefty, Bob Wills, and John Cash, among others were his inspiration and cues for both his writting, and vocal stylings.

The sheer honesty hag conveys in his lyrics, easily strikes home as being genuine and sincere, more often than not.

"Chicago Wind"... just a super album. Some duets and straight ahead country tracks fill out this effort, two remarkable tracks include a duet with toby Keith on, All Of Us Fly, and his solo account of "it always will Be" also on the CD is stunning.

"If I could Only Fly" is also flat outstanding! In this album Merle departs from the standard down hone classic country theme to inject some more folksy vibes. A real collectors item! This CD got play on many 'cross roads' radio stations that usually won't give play time to commercial artis.

"Last Of The Breed" Willie, Merel, and Ray Price just did a double album recently which is great... remaking Lefty Frizzells, and Bob Wills stuff. it shows the wear and tare that time has had on the singer's voices, yet the recording is great and the songs are timeless.

"Ol' Country singer" has Merle live. "Kickin' Out the Footlights... Again" addresses the life and routine of musicians that have lengthy careers.

Jones sings Haggard, haggard Sings Jones, also has "Footlights" as well as each of the two super stars doing each other's fare. It's well recorded and sounds super.

Naturally, Classic hag remains well, classic. Albums like one just mentioned, "Outlaws", with Jessie Colter, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings is a '70s effort and shows it in it's fidelity, yet the songs on it prevail as standard country pop tunes today.

Country Pride is a collection of his early hits and a must have for hag devotees. Merle's hits exceed what just one album can contain however, and his resurgence in the '80s to immense popularity has a few others which should also be sought. That era from the late eighties to mid nineties was where I think Merle did his best work... but he continues to amaze and entertain through today with the efforts I listed above and other collaberative ones with Asleep At the Wheel, heather Miles, and so forth.

Hag's music has honesty, soul, and sense.

When any entertainer can span decades, write songs his peers seek out to perform, and is still a huge draw, it's a testament to a superior force in music... regardless the genre.... Hag has done exactly that.
"Hag's music has honesty, soul, and sense."

Amen Brother!
OK, now the audiophile part of the question:

Are there issues involving re-masterings as with Dylan and Rolling Stones? I find in general that my tastes generally run toward the original masterings as transferred to CD. Is this an issue in Haggard's work?
I'm not sure what you mean here.

If you mean do the remasters sound good or better than the original LP versions? In general I 'd say so. Country music followed more closer to jazz and pop levels of excellence. yet zs with any genre, there are always some few stars, and producers which ensure a fine product is had in the end. hag's stuff is usually done well. though not alwys with his live recordings.. such as Live at Billy Bobs. his Austin City limits show is a very good ojhne and out in DVD and CD.

I've yet to hear as poor a rendering of hags reissues as I've heard of stars such as Neil young, Bob Dylan, and some other rock icons from the sixties and seventies.. Not too many of those older recordings in any genre were intended for playbcak with the higher res systems of today. The ones I noted range from very good to super.

Hope that helps out some.
I differentiate between (i) cd re-issues of the original LP masterings, and (ii) actual re-masterings of the original recordings, then pressed on cd.

I find, for example, that the cd re-issues of the original Rolling Stones LPs are far superior to the re-mastered cd versions that were issued later (2002 I believe).

So my question is: Were Haggard's pre-cd-era LPs just printed straight to disk, with no re-mastering? Or are there re-mastered versions as well? And if there are both, which are preferred?
Beats me. hag is one of a select few for whom, the content is as important as is the fidelity of the recording to me. Usually, I lean towards the well recorded aspect of music over content, save for artists such as Merle... and others of course.

Initially, the converted to disc CDs had an applette on the cover somewhere indicating that... AAD. Analog master, via analog to digital recording. Remasters were usually ADD, I believe. Much if not all today are in the DDD realm now... and consequently the fidelity is improved.

I agree, remasters aren't always better choices.

AS intent and sincere as your interest here seems to be, were I you and so disposed, I'd have a look at Merles recording lable history, and use that as your guide. Otherwise, just buy some online from half dot com, locally used, or Amazon, cheaply, and hear for yourself.

Personally, the recordings I listen to span a great range of fidelity and I always use my main rig as the template for listening... IF the quality of the recording isn't up to what I feel is acceptable, I'll play it on a lesser resolving system, which to me makes sense given the era of the orig issue... and the way some recordings were mastered for anyhow.... like 60's pop and R&B... sometimes the engineer was using a car speaker as a monitor!! or the like!! Figuring, of course, that's how the majority of their market would be playing it back
the capitol years
I suspect major lables will provide their top draws with top flight recording and mastering gear. Capitol, Columbias, RCA, and others did pretty well with the recordings I've heard from them and going back a good ways too..

Try some and see.
Hi Jim,

I am a big fan of Merle, and I might suggest Big City as one of his greatest. Kern River is up there too. And his latest, The Bluegrass session I think is the title, is great. A friend in california, could go on and on. But give Big City a listen, you will be pleased.
Try this site

this person has spent a lot of time on discovery and collection.

I do think his latest album though is Last of the Breed, with Wille and Ray.

Getting Hags now fading voice at it's best will require getting into his older stuff for the most part. I think Chicago Wind is an exception however.... but mostly, yeah, ya gotta go back into the nineties and earlier.