Merle Haggard - vocals, guitar; Jimmy Belkin - fiddle; Dennis Romak - bass; Don Markham - saxophone, trumpet; Roy Nichols - guitar; Bobby Wayne - guitar; Mark Yeary - piano
Recorded for the American Eagle Cross Country Radio Concert Series, this is one of the best live performances of Haggard you are likely to ever hear. Haggard was still touring behind 1981's Big City and its follow up, 1982's Going Where the Lonely Go. Both of those albums had marked his move to Epic/Sony Music after a long and fruitful relationship with MCA. In 1981, when Haggard and The Strangers went into the studio to cut the tracks for Big City, they had no idea they would be making his landmark comeback album, not to mention recording enough material for the follow up album, all within 48 hours!
Although he has become one of the most prolific writers and performers in country music, Haggard has remained remarkably consistent in the quality and basic traditional country style of his music. This performance proves just that. The core members of The Strangers had remained with him for over two decades, and Haggard has never lost his love for the country swing of Bob Willis. Listen to his version of "Pennies from Heaven" and the song styling of his own personal hero, Lefty Frizzell.
This show has many of Haggard's best loved classics, including "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink," "Working Man Blues" and "Time Changes Everything." His voice is remarkably smooth considering he'd been on the road non-stop for nearly 20 years when this show was taped.
Merle Haggard continues to write and record, and recently completed a stint with the alternative label, Anti-Epitaph Records. He has since returned to Capitol-EMI, where he had his greatest chart success during the '60s with classics like "The Bottle Let Me Down Tonight" and "Okie from Muskogee."
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