In 1995, Merle Haggard and his band the Strangers re-recorded many of Haggard's hits at his home studio in California. Those recordings have since been licensed to various record companies (including those that run the ads on late-night television). Sun Records' CLASSICS contains 12 of those recordings (Sun has issued another 12 from the same sessions on the album GREATEST HITS-FINEST PERFORMANCES).
The original recordings of these songs are pretty close to perfect, so it should surprise no one that none of these recordings improves on the originals. They are solid nonetheless, capably played and sung. In fact, the greatest value of these recordings is the way they document the changes in Haggard's vocal approach over the years. In the latter stages of his career, Haggard developed an emotive quaver that he uses to great effect; he also grew more playful, taking the occasional liberty with melody to add a bluesy flourish or drop down an octave a la George Jones. For fans that want a fresh take on some familiar songs, CLASSICS should prove a welcome addition to their collections.