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article imageReview: Country stars deliver on new Merle Haggard tribute album Special

By Markos Papadatos     Apr 6, 2014 in Music
Merle Haggard is one of the best-loved male vocalists in country music history, and the BBR Music Group released a tribute album entitled "Working Man's Poet: A Tribute To Merle Haggard."
It was produced by Mickey Jack Cones and Derek George, and BBR Music Group Owner and CEO Benny Brown served as its executive producer.
The CD opens with Randy Houser's moving performance of the ballad "Misery and Gin" and it is followed by a stellar cover of Joe Nichols' "Footlights," which ironically enough was his father's favorite Haggard classic.
Jason Aldean gives a superb vocal of "Going Where The Lonely Go." I wish Aldean sings more traditional country songs in the future, since he does an excellent job.
Kristy Lee Cook displays her gorgeous vocals and range on "Today I Started Loving You Again" and Toby Keith is able to take Haggard's chart-topper "Carolyn" and make it his own.
Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan collaborate together on "Pancho and Lefty" and they are both delightful.
Country superstar Garth Brooks tips his hat to "The Hag" with "Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down" and Thompson Square produce stunning harmonies on "You Take Me For Granted," polished by Shawna's angelic lead vocals.
One of my favorite vocals from the first half of the record is Ben Haggard's exceptional
rendition of his father's hit song "Mama Tried." This version is worthy of the repeat button.
Dustin Lynch showcases his rich, baritone vocals on the traditional "That's The Way Love Goes."
Jake Owen, who is best-known for his smash single "Barefoot Blue Jean Night," is singing another tune about "blue jeans," this time in honor of Merle Haggard with his Top 10 hit "Make Up and Faded Blue Jeans."
James Wesley triumphs on Haggard's first No. 1 single "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive," where his vocals are reminiscent of Alan Jackson.
Country group Parmalee soars on the upbeat "Workin' Man Blues."
Aldean, Thompson Square, Lynch and Wesley provide additional vocals on the album for such songs as "Are The Good Times Really Over," "Let's Chase Each Other Around The Room," "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" and "The Fightin' Side of Me" respectively. While I love all of these aforementioned tunes, I must say that Wesley's "The Fightin' Side of Me" is my favorite from this bunch, proving that he is one of country's most underrated male artists.
Another wonderful homage to Haggard is Joe Nichols covering "My Favorite Memory." In many interviews that I have done with Nichols over the years, he listed Haggard as his "greatest musical hero" to me, and with one listen of this song, one can understand why. It is safe to say that "The Hag" was a fantastic mentor for Nichols.
The album closes with a pleasant version of Haggard's son, Ben, singing "Sing Me Back Home," which leaves the listener thirsty for more.
More about Merle haggard, jason aldean, Joe Nichols, Mickey Jack Cones, James Wesley
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