Merle Haggard

The Family Bible

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This is a nine-track condensation of Merle Haggard's 1971 inspirational double album, Land of Many Churches, which featured vocal backup from Bonnie Owens and the Carter Family, whose credits have been omitted on this no-frills version. Haggard is appropriately reverent on such standards as "Precious Memories," "Amazing Grace" and "The Old Rugged Cross," as well as on the title song. The restrained accompaniment is dominated by a tinkling piano that sounds churchy (as well it might, since the recordings were made in different churches). Though Owens and the Carters are never given their own solos, they do provide call-and-response on such songs as "On the Jericho Road." But, of course, the full-length album comes more highly recommended.

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