Totally Instrumental with One Exception...

Merle Haggard / Merle Haggard & the Strangers

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Totally Instrumental with One Exception... Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Designed as a showcase for Merle Haggard's backing band the Strangers, Totally Instrumental with One Exception... is a thoroughly enjoyable set of relaxed, jazzy Western swing and honky tonk that illustrates the depths of instrumental talent in the group. In this incarnation, the Strangers featured lead guitarist Roy Nichols, rhythm guitarists Bobby Wayne and Marcia Nichols, steel guitarist Norm Hamlet, bassist Dennis Hromek, and drummer Biff Adam. While this isn't the classic '60s incarnation of the Strangers, it is still a tight, exceptional group whose members make this set of short instrumentals (aside from the spoken word song "Cotton Picker," only "Sittin' on Top of the World" features Merle's vocals) into a fun record.

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