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Merle Haggard: Big City (Epic FE 37593)

Mitchell Cohen, High Fidelity, January 1982

THERE ISN'T much on Big City that's unfamiliar to the contemporary country milieu: yearning to break away from urban life and flee to "the middle of Montana," mourning the absence of traditional patriotic values, some soggy sentiment, the names of several Texas cities, shattered dreams, etc. There are no drinking songs, which is probably unfortunate since Merle Haggard's Serving 190 Proof was the toughest album from what can be called his MCA period. He's now on a new label, but Big City doesn't mark a significant departure for Hag: it's a likable, midlevel work, about on a par with such LPs as It's All in the Movies. Even so, Haggard at less than his best is nothing to moan about

Total word count of piece: 350

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