Merle Haggard

Presents His 30th Album/A Working Man Can't Get Nowhere Today

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In an era in which a major artist will work an album for two or three years, it seems hard to believe, but Merle Haggard managed to crank out 30 LPs between 1965 and 1974, and album number 30 is included on this two-fer CD reissue from Beat Goes On along with one of Hag's last albums for Capitol, 1977's A Working Man Can't Get Nowhere Today. His 30th Album was for the most part typical of Haggard's long-playing output in 1974 -- a few solid tunes dominated by plenty of filler, with the production and arrangements noticeably slicker than the glory days of his Bakersfield period. But there are still some fine cuts here, with Haggard sounding spunky on "Old Man from the Mountain" and "It Don't Bother Me," emotionally resonant on "Things Aren't Funny Anymore" and "Holding Things Together," and confident and committed even on the weakest material. Hag sounds especially feisty on A Working Man Can't Get Nowhere Today, with the tough title cut, a handful of blues workouts, a heartfelt tribute to Lefty Frizzell, and the edgy "I'm a White Boy," which falls short of being racist but would probably be described as "politically incorrect" these days (not that Hag would be likely to care). While the album sounds like something Haggard and his band could have tossed off in a few days, there's a loose but emphatic grit to the sessions, and Hag sounds like he's having a good time throughout, which makes a difference -- even if he worked on the same assembly line as the average Nashville artist of the day, Haggard always cared too much about his music to let his records sink into hackwork, and these two albums stand as proof.

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