Released to coincide with the cable television documentary of the same name, A&E Biography provides a surprisingly effective summary of Merle Haggard's peak years at Capitol Records in the '60s and '70s. Given the richness of Haggard's Capitol recordings (along with the large number of hits he had for the label), it's impossible for a 14-track collection to be definitive, but it is representative, featuring such classics as "Swinging Doors," "Branded Man," "Mama Tried," "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am," "The Fightin' Side of Me," "Okie From Muskogee," "Tulare Dust," and "A Working Man Can't Get Nowhere Today." More discerning listeners will be pleased by the inclusion of such oddities as the television theme "Movin' On," a live version of "Lovesick Blues," the album track "Hag's Dixie Blues #2," and the Willie Nelson duet "Pancho & Lefty," but this is primarily for the casual fan and neophyte, and they'll be quite pleased with it.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Bonnie Owens