In 1994 and 1995, Merle Haggard and his band the Strangers re-recorded many of Haggard's hits. Those recordings have since been licensed to various record companies (including those that run the ads on late-night television). MORE GREAT NO. 1 HITS, the companion disc to Special's MERLE HAGGARD'S GREATEST (NO. 1) HITS, includes twelve of these new versions of Haggard standards.
None of the cuts here improves on the original hit recordings (an impossibly tall order, given the excellence of Haggard's early records), but nearly all are solid nonetheless. Because these recordings were made at Haggard's home studio with his stage band providing backing support, they sound a lot like board recordings of a '95 Merle Haggard concert. The sound is simple but clean, the band plays with the confidence of a group that has played the material hundreds of times, and Haggard, as always, sings the songs in a voice that is both beautiful and painfully melancholy. For fans that want a fresh take on some familiar songs, MORE GREAT NO. 1 HITS should fit the bill.