Merle Haggard / Willie Nelson

Seashores of Old Mexico

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Five years after the triumph of Pancho & Lefty, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson recorded the follow-up, Seashores of Old Mexico. Alas, little of what made the earlier album so great is in evidence. At times the album sounds like a Merle Haggard record with Willie Nelson on hand as support. "Without You on My Side" reveals no evidence of Nelson and his guitar at all; it sounds like a castoff from Haggard's 1987 Chill Factor album. More importantly, the song selection is a mixed bag, with a few top-notch songs mixed with many second-rate ones. The title track and "Jimmy the Broom," both by Haggard, don't match his best writing of the period, and sound stilted and forced. A cover of the Beatles' "Yesterday" doesn't really work either, although they give it a good try. The best tracks on the album are the last two: Nelson's "Why Do I Have to Choose" and Haggard's "Silver Wings," both from the artists' back catalogs. These mark the only times on the album when it sounds like they are really working together. Having achieved a masterpiece on their first outing together, Haggard and Nelson may have set a standard impossible to match; Seashores of Old Mexico certainly doesn't come close.

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