Mr & Mrs Bakersfield and an in-concert classic on a twofer

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Merle Haggard – Just Between The Two Of Us (With Bonnie Owens)

Hag’s rep was still rising when he cut second album… Two Of Us with new wife (and the ex-Mrs Buck Owens) in 1966. Largely restrained to counterpoint harmony alongside Bonnie’s weaker honky-tonk purr, Merle gets suitably country-tough on superior 1970 live-in-Philly effort Fightin’ Side Of Me, rush-released to cash in on the unapologetic jingoism of recent smash “Okie From Muskogee” (also included here). Paying homage to Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Johnny Cash and Jimmie Rodgers, he’s never better than on the latter’s extraordinary “TB Blues”.