Picks and Pans Review: Big City

UPDATED 11/30/1981 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 11/30/1981 at 01:00 AM EST

Merle Haggard

It's hard to stay off Merle's fightin' side. On this LP, for instance, consider the lyrics of the title tune: "Been working every day since I was twenty/ Haven't got a thing to show for anything I've done/There's folks who never work and they've got plenty/Think it's time some guys like me had some fun." That kind of sourness has been a running feature of Haggard's work, but he has compiled an amazingly consistent track record. He has had at least one single make the country Top 10 charts every year since 1966. On this album he does render a few appealing, positive tunes such as My Favorite Memory and This Song Is Mine, backed by his unique sax-and-trumpet-supported Strangers—"country jazz," he calls it. And his voice, one of the natural wonders, is as pure and rugged as ever. Fact is, you can disagree vehemently with his philosophizing all night, but you can't help tapping your foot to it.

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