Alanna Nash
August 10, 1990 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Blue Jungle

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Merle Haggard
Producers
Curb
genre
Country

We gave it an A-

The way the Hag sees it, America is in a mess. Homelessness on every corner — so much desperation that he devotes two songs to it — and, perhaps worse, the Supreme Court says it’s okay to burn the flag. That decision in particular awakened Haggard from the lethargy that has paralyzed his albums for a decade and spurred him to write ”Me and Crippled Soldiers,” in which he declares, to the rat-a-tat of a military snare, ”Today they ruled to burn Old Glory down/ And only me and crippled soldiers give a damn.” Haggard’s conservative stance — and his dismay at what he sees as the erosion of America’s moral standards — has often resulted in his best work (”Okie From Muskogee,” ”The Fightin’ Side of Me”). From the country shuffle of the title tune to ”A Bar in Bakersfield,” a jaunty paean to the small-time musician who’s the backbone of the country genre, Haggard is near the top of his form as the spokesman for the workingman and the socially disenfranchised, too familiar with drink, defeat, and heartache. A-

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