These 18 cuts are early prime Merle Haggard. There were many hits after the Capitol eras, but let's face it, Haggard reputation as "the workingman's poet" was established on the strength of many of the cuts included here, from "Mama Tried" and "Sing Me Back Home" to "Daddy Frank the Guitar Man" and "Okie from Muskogee." The words and music of Haggard with the Strangers are nothing to sneeze at, and if you are looking for a prime -- and super cheap -- introduction to the Bakersfield sound's Woody Guthrie, this is a good place to start. ~ Thom Jurek
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