Merle Haggard

Poet Of The Common Man/Live In Concert

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Music Main Menu Audio
Year Released 2000
Running Time 45:42 / 45:37
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme Selection, then Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Bayron Binkley
Jay W. Griffiths 
Starring Merle Haggard
Case Amaray
RPI $39.95 Music Merle Haggard

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Poet-English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 224 Kb/s)
Live-English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Original Aspect Ratio Full Frame
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

Plot Synopsis

    This is another one of those instances where I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing this DVD due to my interest in country music. Perhaps I should clarify that my interest is in new country music, as this sort of stuff is old country music that really gave country music a very bad name. Merle Haggard may be considered something of a legend in some circles, but these are not the circles that I frequent. This is just plain boring. The DVD comprises two shows, the details of which are:
Poet Of The Common Man
Live In Concert
1. Kern River   1. Misery And Gin
2. A Place To Fall Apart   2. Back To The Barrooms
3. Big City   3. Our Paths May Never Cross
4. Today I Started Loving You Again   4. Tennessee Hustler
5. Ramblin Fever   5. The Runnin' Kind
6. Mama Tried   6. Working Man Blues
7. Footlights   7. Always Late
8. Silver Wings   8. Little Liza Jane
9. My Favourite Memory   9. Faded Love
10. That's The Way Love Goes   10. Maiden's Prayer
11. The Moment I Lost You   11. Special Medley Of Hoedowns
12. Workin' Man Blues   12. Sing Me Back Home
13. The Lonesome Fugitive   13. Okie From Muskogee
      14. Just Stay Here And Drink

    Both programmes are actually live in concert efforts. The first is recorded live in Nashville, whilst the second is recorded in a large unidentified baseball stadium that may be Houston. As I have suggested, this is not my cup of tea at all, and I rather wish that I had not stuck my hand up to review it. Compounding the issue is that this is another of those Massive releases that have been greeted with a general lack of enthusiasm from a reviewing point of view. Just like the earlier DVDs from this source, the presentation of this material leaves something to be desired, with the overall result being decidedly lukewarm. Also as usual from this source, take the year of 2000 shown above with a very large pinch of salt. I cannot vouch for when exactly the second show was filmed, but the first was recorded in 1987.

Transfer Quality


    "Superb Digital Picture and Sound Quality - Dolby AC-3 Stereo"? Well Massive keep on making the claim, and we just keep on shooting them down. This is not superb stuff in any way, shape or form.

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame ratio and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    I am presuming here that the first show, Poet Of The Common Man, was recorded for television as it displays the typical lack of sharpness and detail that is demonstrated by other DVDs from this source. Indeed, at times the source material is very out-of-focus, with some distant shots of the stage being quite laughably indistinct. And if I thought this effort was relatively bad, then I simply have no words to describe how utterly appalling Live In Concert is. I have seen home videos with more definition than this. Indeed, the shots of the stage are so bad here that most of the time you simply cannot distinguish Merle Haggard amongst the equipment on the stage, and the bulk of this show is completely unwatchable in my view. Overall, these shows demonstrate quite lamentable sharpness and detail. Shadow detail is best not commented upon, as it will only lead to the use of profanity. Grain is a significant problem throughout the transfers, and these are anything but clear transfers. There did appear to be some problems with low level noise, but this may of course be a reflection of the appalling inadequacies of the source material rather than the result of any mastering issues.

    There is nothing especially noteworthy about this rather insipid palette of colours other than the distinct differences between the underwhelming colours of Poet Of The Common Man and the somewhat over-rich colours of Live In Concert. There is nothing here that you would confuse for stunning depth of tone and vibrancy of colour. At their best, the colours are barely decent and nothing more. At their worst, the colours are very indistinct. Colour bleed does not appear to be a problem at all in the transfer.

    There are no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There were no real problems with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, although there were some problems with minor aliasing here and there. Film artefacts were not much of a problem. The main issue is the inherent flaws in what I am guessing would be a video tape source.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is sort of just the one audio track on the DVD, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. However, these are two distinct soundtracks as that for the Poet Of The Common Man is a 224 Kb/s effort whilst that for the Live In Concert is a 192 Kb/s effort. This is a rather unusual situation although the difference between the two is not especially noticeable.

    The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

    There did not appear to be any particular problems with audio sync.

    There is nothing remarkable about the soundtrack, and it certainly is not the best effort I have ever heard. There are some rather noticeable drop outs here and there (try 32:06 in Poet Of The Common Man) which are a tad distracting. The soundtrack sounds distinctly mono rather than stereo, but I shall give Massive the benefit of the doubt here. There certainly is nothing at all to indicate surround channel use, and there is of course no bass channel use at all. Once again you just occasionally wish for some surround encoding to add a bit of bite to the sound. Still, the sound is not congested and reasonably free from distortion.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Nothing here to be concerned about.


    Some minor audio enhancement is the only distinction here.

R4 vs R1

    This is not available in Region 1, however there is a Region 1 release that contains these two concerts with a further programme called The Best Of Merle Haggard. If the man is to your taste, that would be the preferred choice I would suggest.


    Merle Haggard is a thoroughly boring collection of two concerts, let down badly by some very amateurish video in the case of the second portion of the DVD. There is simply nothing here that could encourage me to recommend this DVD, even to fans of the man himself.

    A poorish video transfer.

    An average audio transfer.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
20th September 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL