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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Back in the late 60's I bought the LP record version of this album, and when I heard it, I went back to the store and bought another copy, which I keep in pristine, unplayed condition. Now I have a CD which I can play endlessly without worrying too much about deterioration. So many people have performed songs by Jimmie Rodgers, but this album by Merle Haggard is so far above the rest we need a new way to describe it. It just reaches down into your soul. When you have material like this and an artist like this to perform it, it just doesn't get any better, to use a trite phrase. The technical quality of this CD is very nearly the same as my old LP, also, which is a plus. I only wish Merle had included "TB Blues" in this album--but the CD containing this tune recorded live is a good second one to get, anyway. (The Best of Country Blues)
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Like a quick aside from his rapidly ascending career, Haggard recorded this tribute after the Strangers had perfected their pre-swing mixture of electric honky-tonk and sophisticated folk-country. As a result, the album remains a C&W landmark. Among the other major stars of his day, only Haggard recorded with his road band all of the time, and the virtuosic fretwork of Roy Nichols, James Burton, and Norm Hamlet (steel and dobro) drives every track. To the musical backing, Haggard lends his unmistakeably smooth vocals. He pulls off an amazing representation of Jimmie Rodgers' tough, little-guy machismo (which he shares) on the best tracks, which include all of the blues numbers. If the sentimental songs on the disc are generally a little weaker, "Waiting for a Train" still provides the record's transcendent moment. Neither can one divorce the musical brilliance from Haggard's use of the songs to make a socio-political statement. When he chose to do a tribute album, Haggard clearly intended to use Rodgers' hard times, Depression-era songs to convey his idea of late 60's populism, which he advanced in tunes of his own like "Mama's Hungry Eyes" and "Workin' Man Blues." The album, despite lackluster commercial success, remains one of C&W's defining records.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Released in 1969 as a double album, Same Train A Different Time received little attention when first issued, yet it has deservedly grown in popularity and stature over the years. Here Haggard tackles twenty Jimmie Rodgers classics like "California Blues," "Frankie & Johnny," and "Muleskinner Blues" with great affection for the material. Having survived a destitute youth, Haggard obviously identified with the Depression Era songs. The backing musicians (including the legendary James Burton - a sideman for Rick Nelson and Elvis) are also first-rate and Haggard's yodeling is surprisingly strong. It all combines for a wonderful tribute to the Singing Brakeman.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Anyone who likes country-blues (especially the all-acoustic variety) will love this CD.

Firstly, the songs are the compositions of someone who needs no introduction, the legendary Jimmie Rodgers. Most of them are based on a 12-bar blues pattern, with the lyrics repeating the first verse twice over the first chord-change - a traditional form that was very dear to Rodgers. The words are a good reflection of depression-era themes, such as railroad hoboing (Hobo Bill), scrounging up a modest living (No hard time blues) and, of course, loving and leaving in their many facets (California blues, Jimmie's last Blue Yodel).

Haggard's vocal rendition is somewhat different then Rodgers,' but the result is equally engaging. While Rodgers' voice is haunting and languid, Haggard's is more round and palpable. Also, Haggard's yodeling is much less frequent, but when employed is extremely effective, equally "plodding" and never over-used. In a sense, it is by being completely himself that Haggard nails the spirit of Rodgers' songs.

The arrangements are one of the many strong suits of this CD. For the most part, pieces feature acoustic instruments - drums, bass, guitars, dobros (one played with the slide, the other a dobro-guitar), and blues-harp. A couple pieces have horns, played in a quasi-Dixieland style reminiscent of those in Rodgers' own recordings - while a violin, an electric guitar and a steel guitar surface in a minority of the tracks. Most pieces are moderate "2/4" two-steps, with the occasional waltz.

The accompaniment is provided by Haggard's own band (the Strangers) and the studio artists sometimes heard in his earlier recordings. Among the latter is none other than James Burton, one of the fathers of Country Guitar styles and, of course, the guitarist who toured with Elvis from 1969 to 1977. While most listeners are accustomed to hearing Burton's Telecaster, it is amazing to hear him pick away at a round-neck dobro with equal flair and musicianship (his fiery solo in "No hard time blues" is an oft-copied masterpiece).

Song-choice is varied and representative of Rodgers' output. Also, the recording is interspersed with a few (very brief) tracks of Haggard's narration of Rodgers' life and deeds - which can be easily skipped over once they are familiar to the listener.

Overall, I recommend this CD very enthusiastically to all who enjoy this style of music - a CD that has only strengths and no weaknesses.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I bought this album in 1969 when it was first released and I still have it now. Even though my old record player is in bad shape I still listen to it whenever I get the time. One can not just sit and listen to one or two of the songs on this album and then cut it off, because when it starts you find yourself getting caught up in the singer the times and music and before you know it you have listened to every song on this two album set. I do not believe that there ever has been or ever will be someone quite like Merle Haggard. He has a voice with depth and quality that no one can duplicate or be compared to. He is truly one of a kind. I too feel that if Jimmy Rodgers was alive to hear this music he would truly be amazed at what he was hearing and wished (even though he could sing these same songs superbly) he could sing them the same way that the Hag could and does here. I have always been a fan of the Hag and always will be. God don't make singers of country music like him any more. This is the kind of music that takes you back to front porches and porch swings. Back to when time seemed to stand still. This music will live forever because of the heart and soul that was put into this music by Jimmy Rodgers first then Merle Haggard. Thanks Merle for sharing Jimmy Rodger's songs and your great talent with all that will give an ear to this great form of music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2005
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
As tribute albums go it dosn't get any better than this. Merle produced two superlative tribute albums in the 1970's. "Same Train, A Different Time": The Songs Of Jimmie Rodgers and "My Tribute To The Best Damn Fiddle Player In The World": Bob Wills. With each of these, Merle demonstrates a deep rooted affection for not only the music, but for the men who defined the "Blue Yodel Sound" and "Western Swing". Without comming off as heavy handed or pompus Merle takes the listener on a musical journey through the past, into a time and place where hobos rode the rails, always on the watch for the railroad cops, always searching for that next town beyond the bend. A place where they might find a few days work peach pickin' or maybe choppin' wood. And with the Bob Wills album, Merle brings us back to the western Grange Halls where swing bands played a unique blend of country, swing and polkas all night long and fellas snuck out back to steal a kiss from their best gal. Merle knows the music better than anyone alive. He's played it and he's lived it and we can only hope he'll be around for many more years, keeping the sounds and the traditions alive of great musicians like, the "Singing Breakman", Jimmie Rodgers and the "King Of Western Swing", Bob Wills. Long live the sweet sounds of Bakersfield and long may you live old friend, Merle Haggard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I bought this album in 1969 when it was first released and I still have it now. Even though my old record player is in bad shape I still listen to it whenever I get the time. One can not just sit and listen to one or two of the songs on this album and then cut it off, because when it starts you find yourself getting caught up in the singer the times and music and before you know it you have listened to every song on this two album set. I do not believe that there ever has been or ever will be someone quite like Merle Haggard. He has a voice with depth and quality that no one can duplicate or be compared to. He is truly one of a kind. I too feel that if Jimmy Rodgers was alive to hear this music he would truly be amazed at what he was hearing and wished (even though he could sing these same songs superbly) he could sing them the same way that the Hag could and does here. I have always been a fan of the Hag and always will be. God don't make singers of country music like him any more. This is the kind of music that takes you back to front porches and porch swings. Back to when time seemed to stand still. This music will live forever because of the heart and soul that was put into this music by Jimmy Rodgers first then Merle Haggard. Thanks Merle for sharing Jimmy Rodger's songs and your great talent with all that will give an ear to this great form of music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Back in the late 60's I bought the LP record version of this album, and when I heard it, I went back to the store and bought another copy, which I keep in pristine, unplayed condition. Now I have a CD which I can play endlessly without worrying too much about deterioration. So many people have performed songs by Jimmie Rodgers, but this album by Merle Haggard is so far above the rest we need a new way to describe it. It just reaches down into your soul. When you have material like this and an artist like this to perform it, it just doesn't get any better, to use a trite phrase. The technical quality of this CD is very nearly the same as my old LP, also, which is a plus. I only wish Merle had included "TB Blues" in this album--but the CD containing this tune recorded live is a good second one to get, anyway. (The Best of Country Blues)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I was living in England when this album was issued and purchased the single LP condensation of the US two record set. When I got back Stateside I bought the two record set, which I have to this day. Although sometimes I get a little impatient with Hag's narrations, I always play the entire side through. I was delighted to find it on CD but when I'm home I still listen to the LP, reserving the CD for use in the car. This set has a very authentic feel with Hag's Strangers doing a good job of replicating the sound of the JR originals. While I think that Hag's singing improved subsequent to this album, his vocals here are clearly a labor of love,complete with yodels.

A very important set of recordings
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I first heard this album in 69. My dad bought it but wasn't a country music fan he loved all those old Jimmie Rodgers songs of the depression era though.I loved country music and Merle Haggard.He taught me all about the depression and what the songs meant and I tought him about Merle Haggard and country music a combo that we came to love and sing for years to come. Simple music about tough times. Haggards voice at its finest and the Strangers are fabulous with Norman Hamlett on the steel and the dobros are an exceptional addition to the up tempo Dixieland sound.
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