ARTIST: Merle Haggard
TITLE: Swinging Doors
YEAR RELEASED: 1966
CHART ACTION: #1 Country
SINGLES: Swinging Doors (#5 Country), The Bottle Let Me Down (#3 Country)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah
LINEUP: Merle Haggard, Roy Nichols, Ralph Mooney, Bonnie Owens and many other session people like James Burton, Glen Campbell, Glen D. Hardin and Jim Gordon
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A top-to-bottom good-to-great album from Haggard, who was emerging as the new voice of traditional country music.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sure, the two big hits are on every Haggard compilation that you could get, but by going that route you short change yourself the vision of Haggard, the songwriter.
Ten of the twelve songs here are from Haggard’s pen, and his interpretation of “High on a Hilltop” is a big winner. Most of the songs are first class, and even the ones that are lesser lights are redeemed by Haggard and crew’s performance.
The steel guitar of Mooney, the backing vocals of Owens and Nichol’s distinctive telecaster shine through this album, and the production from Ken Nelson and Fuzzy Owens is top notch.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: This album was recorded in four separate sessions, but it seems like it was all done in the same session period. The title track was completed in August of 1965, and the finishing touches were done a year later.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE: A-: Put this into your country music collection, for sure.