Step up and meet the real Merle Haggard, at ease, singing the songs he loves, having a good time with the members of his band. His guard is down, his humor shows and he exhibits a talent which many may have missed: namely, he is a superb mimic and when he sings a song, he donsciously or unconsciously falls into the pattern of the singer most associated with that song. This results in an endless variety of Merles. His selection of songs and their performance is in itself a mini-history of classic country music: styles from Jimmie Rodgers' lonesome solos through today's popular line dancing. And the band is with him all the way, tailord to fit the mood. the Jimmie Davis duet is a gift wrapped bonus. As is usual in vintage country music, each song has a tale to tell. In "Peach Pickin' Time In Georgia," an orchard "picker" wanders the country in searc of "peaches" but not of the eatin' kind. He seems to be like the sailor with a girl in every port, enjoying himself immensly, although the last verse hints that he could reform and settle down. Merle almost chuckles his way through this one. "f It's Wrong To Love You"and "Put Me In Your Pocket" strike the old wistful country note of unrequited love. both are lilting melodies from a simpler, trusting age. "Anniversary Blue Yodel" and "Whippin' That Old T.B." become progressivley more and more Jimmie Rodgers as Merle gets in the mood. The guitar chorus and harmonica train whistle characterize the era's musical style. "Sweethearts Or Strangers" and "Time Changes Everything" feature the piano licks of beloved Ownen Bradley who returned to the bench for this fun session, leaving us a memento of his genius. He, like Merle, is totally at ease here, pros enjoying themselves. "Miss The Mississippi and You" is a sentimental waltz, made to order for one-on-one dancing in the arms of yhour partner. The gold standard, "It Makes no Difference Now" displays Merle's inimitable voice backed by the kind of Texas pop styled by Bob Wills, Leon McAuliffe et al, a vibraqnt mix of old and new instrumentation which sets toes tapping. "Shackles and Chains" - the title tells the sad story. A man convicted for life is about to leave his sweetheart wearing shackles and chains...reminiscent of the old Georgia chain gangs. So you might call it a melodic piece ofhistory. Merle honors Jimmie Davis in the duet "Hang On to The Memories," one of Jimmie's favorites. Merle sings the first chorus and Jimmie sings the second. this cut leaves one wishing for more. Merle also sings the Floyd Tillman hit, "I Love You So Much It Hurts" with all of the Tillman slides, licks and curleques plus a big slice of Merle himself. Floyd and merle wrapped up in one bundle. How much better can it get? This al bum has something for every Haggard fan. All ofit crafted with the comfortable ease of a long time professional. Every selection is another side of a versatile talent. An unusual treat in this age of copy cat artists. Pick a Merle you like or enjoy them all.