Merle Haggard: Legendary Performances (DVD)

I know that the Legendary Performances series has been covered considerably by a number of different individuals over the last few months, but I feel that the series, and especially the Merle Haggard edition of the series, are worth a more critical view. For those individuals that may not have had the chance to view any of the series, they are essentially compilations of performances that one major individual in the country field has played over the course of their career.

For Haggard, this means that there are performances from 1968 all the way out to 1983, with a Hall of Fame induction ceremony bumping the range of years all the way out to 1994. The songs here are without exception some of Haggard’s most well known and loved tracks: “Okie From Muskogee” shines in a 1970 performance from the Porter Wagoner Show, while “Branded Man” starts out the DVD, a 1968 rendition from the Country Music Holiday special. The quality of the video and audio from each of these performances vary dependent on how well the source material was kept and what generation of this video that Shout! Factory was able to procure, but this is not some bootleg: only one or two of these performances are at a level that I would feel is not able to be shown on television, for example.

For individuals that wish to see how their most revered stars change, grow, and otherwise evolve during their career, the Legendary Performance series is something that should definitely be something that they look to purchase early. The only negative that I can see with this series is that the original context for these performances has been lost: individuals have no idea of Haggard acted in a skit or otherwise impacted the show in which these performances were originally culled. Hopefully, Shout! can release some of these other performances in much the same way that they did with the Johnny Cash Christmas specials during the last few years. Regardless, this DVD constitutes a must-buy for any Haggard fan.

Rating: 9.0/10

Merle Haggard: Legendary Performances / 2008 Shout! Factory / http://www.shoutfactory.com

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