Album Info

June 15, 2010
Beat Goes On
Country, Traditional Country, Bakersfield Sound, Honky Tonk

Album Review

This BGO set features remasters from the middle of Merle Haggard's tenure at Epic; both were released in 1985. Kern River is easily the most diverse recording he issued for the label. Though the sad, weary title track is one of the finest country tunes he penned during the 1980s, it's actually an outlier here. There are other ballads, but the emphasis on the material leans more toward uptempo numbers and his particular take on Western swing and jazz, as evidenced by "I Wonder Where I'll Find You Tonight," "The Old Watermill," and a cover of Louis Armstrong's "Big Butter and Egg Man." Amber Waves of Grain is a live date, cut during shows at the Holiday Theater in Merrillville, Indiana and the Bob Devaney Sports Complex in Lincoln, Nebraska. Both shows were tributes to American farmers and all of the album's original royalties were donated to farm-oriented charities and aid organizations. Musically, it falls into the trap of a lot of Haggard's post-1972 concert offerings. It's a mixed, uneven bag. The title track is one of a number of patriotic tunes here, though this is one of his particularly jingoistic ones. To boot, rather than fire up the base, it sounds like an elegy. Other patriotic tunes here include "American Waltz" and "I Wish Things Were Simple Again," which feels like a lackluster sequel to "Are the Good Times Really Over for Good." The band kicks it, though, particularly on the smattering of hits that include fine medleys of "Tulare Dust/Mama Tried," a brief sequel entitled "The Okie from Muskogee's Comin' Home" (a hard-driving country boogie that actually prefaces the original), and "Working Man's Blues/Always Late with Your Kisses."
Thom Jurek, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Kern River
  2. Old Flames Can't Hold a Candle To You
  3. There I've Said It Again
  4. You Don't Love Me Anymore
  5. Natural High
  6. Big Butter and Egg Man
  7. Ridin' High
  8. There's Somebody Else On Your Mind
  9. I Wonder Where I'll Find You At Tonight
  10. There Won't Be Another Now
  11. The Old Watermill
  12. Amber Waves of Grain
  13. Tulare Dust/Mama Tried
  14. The Farmer's Daughter
  15. The Okie from Muskogee's Comin' Home/Okie from Muskogee
  16. Gone With the Wind
  17. I Wish Things Were Simple Again
  18. Working Man's Blues/Always Late With Your Kisses
  19. American Waltz
  20. Kern River
  21. Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You
  22. There I’ve Said It Again
  23. You Don’t Love Me Anymore
  24. Natural High
  25. Big Butter and Egg Man
  26. Ridin’ High
  27. There’s Somebody Else on Your Mind
  28. I Wonder Where I’ll Find You at Tonight
  29. There Won’t Be Another Now
  30. The Old Watermill