Merle Haggard’s ’60s breakthrough came on Capitol and his ’80s resurgence on Epic—but what happened in between? Ah, yes: his overlooked, underappreciated MCA recordings, which found the iconic country singer-songwriter re-emerging from a mid-career crossroads. The 68-page hardcover book here limns a portrait of a burned-out country star contemplating retirement, who takes half a year off and returns refreshed, with a new band and new confidence. The 111 tracks (plus a 68-page book) include every existing master he recorded for MCA from 1976–81; you get eight LPs, a "lost" album later sold to CBS, four unissued songs (including the recently discovered original recording of "Troubadour"), three songs never before on album (including his #8-hit duet with Leona Williams, "The Bull and the Beaver") and both hits from the "Bronco Billy" soundtrack ("Misery and Gin" and his #1 smash with Clint Eastwood, "Bar Room Buddies"). Among the many essential Haggard moments here: his heartfelt tribute to his friend Elvis Presley (his 1977 #4 hit "From Graceland to the Promised Land"), his Top 10 hits "I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink," "Leonard," "Ramblin’ Fever," "If We’re Not Back in Love by Monday," "Red Bandana," "The Way I Am" and more including stellar live performances! Bear Family.
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