Rolling Stone - p.954 stars out of 5
-- "Haggard was more about subtlety and West Coast calm. A hummable, elastic honky-tonk tune can convey everything he wants to say."
Audio Remasterer: Randy LeRoy.
This 2006 twofer compiles Merle Haggard's very first solo ventures, discounting JUST BETWEEN THE TWO OF US (co-billed to Bonnie Owens). While 1965's STRANGERS finds the young Bakersfield country singer still getting his musical bearings, it features a number of excellent singles, including the woeful "You Don't Have Far to Go" and a rollicking cover of Ernest Tubb's "Walking the Floor Over You." SWINGING DOORS AND THE BOTTLE LET ME DOWN marks the emergence of a more confident Hag, with the title calling attention to two of the record's finest tunes--the honky-tonk ode "Swinging Doors" and the classic "The Bottle Let Me Down," a woozy lament about an unsuccessful attempt to drink away a broken heart. This release also includes alternate takes and previously unreleased tracks, making it an excellent value and an essential collection for Haggard fans.