Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time – #484: Merle Haggard-Branded Man (1967)

A funny thing happened on the way to me writing a review for this record… thanks, Spotify.

merle accurate

So, turns out this studio album by Merle Haggard and his band The Strangers is not available on Spotify, but they do have a handy Napster-inspired bootleg live mish-mash of songs that is labeled as that album (see the bogus album cover below).  I knew something was wrong because these are live recordings, but I figured hey its a live version, grow up and deal with it.  I swear I’m not an idiot, I just play one on the internet.

merle fake

Turns out, after the title track (a great song about wearing the shame of incarceration long after the sentence has been paid), none of the appropriate songs from the 1967 album are included on this nonsense Spotify is parading as the album.

So, let me tell you a couple of things you already know: Merle is one of the all-time greats and belongs on anyone’s country music Mount Rushmore (alongside Hank, Johnny, and Waylon, if you ask me), and I did find a few gems even if they are not on this album.

His live take on “Right or Wrong” is awesome, and although I don’t completely agree with the “love it or leave it” sentiment, “The Fightin’ Side of Me” is sheer greatness as well.  “The Fugitive”, hey that’s a great song (even if it isn’t on this album).  Grrrrrrr…

Worst.  Review. Ever.

Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.  I can confirm that Spotify does have a genuine version of album #483… stay tuned.

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