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Merle Haggard: The Complete ’60s Capitol Singles

Grade: A

Merle’s B-sides stand up just as forcefully to his A-side hits, as this unique compilation deftly proves. The Complete 60s Capitol Singles is a true representation of the era of Merle, showcasing his best-known singles of the decade along with each single’s flip-side track.

You do have to take the album’s title quite literally, as this compilation features the recordings Merle made for Capitol Records, the label where he found his greatest fame.

As such, early-’60s hits like “Sing a Sad Song” and “Sam Hill” are missing, as those were cut for the Tally independent label. But die-hard Haggard buffs should hardly complain. The album kicks off with Merle’s 1965 debut single for Capitol, “I’m Gonna Break Every Heart I Can,” and runs right through his final ’60s single, the classic 1969 testament “Okie From Muskogee.”

Also in the mix is Merle’s first No. 1 hit, “The Fugitive,” immediately followed by its backside cut, “Someone Told My Story,” which peaked at No. 32.

The album contains 28 tracks in all, including “Sing Me Back Home,” “Mama Tried” and others. What truly sets this apart from the standard greatest-hits package, though, is that you hear the songs (save for the final two) in their original mono format.

In other words, this is what Merle would sound like on your favorite radio station or jukebox if you could time-travel back to the ’60s. As a cool bonus, the CD jacket includes all the pertinent information for every song, including recording dates and backing musicians. 

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