Bear Family Records, a Germany-based independent record label, will be releasing an extensive country music box set called Bakersfield Sound on August 9th. According to SavingCountryMusic.com, the box set is meant to, “encapsulate the reverberating influence of country music from Bakersfield, California”. Some of the box set’s contents are 10 CDs, over 300 tracks, and a full color photo book with some never before seen pictures of the vast array of artists included on the collection.
While there is an incredible amount of content for any fan of Southwestern country to consume, the crown jewel of the box set might just be two new studio recordings of two of Merle Haggard’s songs, “If I Had Left It Up to You” and “I’m Gonna Break Every Heart I Can”. The songs were both first released to the public on Haggard’s hugely successful debut album Strangers, but the recently discovered versions included in this box set were recorded before he was even signed to Capitol Records (he was working under Tally Records at the time of recording).
Other highlights of the box set’s array of content include the first known recordings of Harland and Jan Howard, Barbara Mandrell’s first solo recording, and previously unreleased content from country greats like Red Simpson, Billy Mize, and Bonnie Owens.
Listen to the Tally Records version of “I’m Gonna Break Every Heart I Can” here:
Merle Haggard passed away on April 6th, 2016. His long and illustrious career as a country music maverick included 38 #1 hits on the country charts, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and Kennedy Center Honor. He was pivotal in propelling the rock-influenced sound of country in Bakersfield, California into the mainstream.