There are two prerequisites needed in order to contend with Bakersfield's finest country singers. First, you must possess a set of vocal cords that sound like its been marinated in buttermilk. Second, you need a Telecaster player who can pick and bend with equal parts soul and dexterity. This Merle Haggard twofer is a good example. 1968's Mama Tried set the bar high with a perfect title track that begins with the most melodic guitar picking to land on a country song. 1969's Pride had a similarly catchy title track and equally strong material throughout.