Merle Haggard

Legendary Performances DVD – 2008 (Shout! Factory)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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The Strangers are a talented and extremely flexible band, as Haggard's mood can vary from showing off his rich singing voice on ballads to playing the jazzy guitar hero via Western swing material. Thus, it takes a multi-faceted combo, like The Strangers, to keep up with Haggard's many moods.

This disc collects 15 Haggard TV clips, and the man is definitely not lip synching his way through these performances. For instance, viewers can clearly hear The Hag clear his throat right before digging into The Bottle Let Me Down from "Country Music Holiday" circa 1968. Speaking of Haggard's Western swing love, he's caught performing Bob Wills' San Antonio Rose off a Johnny Cash's 1983 Christmas special, which also finds him playing a mean fiddle.

Elsewhere, Haggard is introduced by another legend - this time, Willie Nelson - who introduces Haggard's 1983 CMA Awards performance of That's The Way Love Goes. This DVD's extras include Haggard's 1984 Hall of Fame induction and a 1981 interview. And while brief TV appearances don't match Haggard's memorable concert performances, this man always sounds great on the tube - even though he's probably out of his natural element