It was probably inevitable. New York's most decorated avant jazz Merle Haggard cover band really had to get together with Eugene Chadbourne, who has been entertaining the masses with his avant-garde country jazz stylings for decades now. Oh sure, the sax players and drummer may take a few liberties here and there and the "Bob Wills Medley" might have a chicken interlude and scatted bass solo, but this album was definitely made by folks who love Hag's music. You can't be a casual fan and create a mashup like "If Someday We Look Back Through December"! It might read like a joke, and they most certainly have some fun on the album, but "Listening to the Wind" is just a great (if unconventional) reading of a great song, without an ounce of irony or parody. The same could be said for "That's the News" and "The Way I Am" (a lovely banjo duet by Jon Lundbom and the good doctor). Merles Just Want to Have Fun is a fun and loving tribute...that should probably be avoided by country music purists.
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AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard