Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Buck Owens: “Buck ‘Em! The Music Of Buck Owens (1955-1967)” (2013) CD Review

I find it odd that there are still people who claim they don’t like country music. Clearly they haven’t heard Buck Owens. And just how is that possible? Well, if you have a friend who says he or she doesn’t like country, just give that person the new collection, Buck ‘Em! The Music Of Buck Owens (1955-1967). This collection has fifty classic Buck Owens songs on two discs.

This collection includes singles, album tracks, and some rare tunes. There are some early versions, and even one previously unreleased track – an early rendition of “Under The Influence Of Love.” The songs are presented in chronological order, by the dates they were recorded. So the collection begins with a few Pep singles, before getting into the Capitol catalogue.

There are a lot of love songs. Lots of troubled love songs, which are often the best love songs. And they are still optimistic love songs. After all, “Love’s Gonna Live Here” (Check out Don Rich’s lead guitar part on that song). There is also a duet with Rose Maddox, “Sweethearts In Heaven” (I love Jim Pierce’s work on piano on that track). There is also a great instrumental track, “Buck’s Polka,” which is a lot of fun. Buck Owens is the real thing, as each of these songs makes apparent.

By the way, this collection’s liner notes include a section from Buck Owens’ autobiography, Buck ‘Em! The Autobiography Of Buck Owens.

“Down On The Corner Of Love”

Buck ‘Em! opens with that classic Buck Owens tune, “Down On The Corner Of Love.” This is the original mono single version. I just love hearing his voice on that “late in the evening” section. It’s wonderful, and does it for me every single time.

“Hot Dog” is a great rockabilly tune. Early rock and roll fans will love this track. This is also the original mono single version. There is then the sweet and slower “There Goes My Love,” with the lines, “Well, you’re the first love in my life/And you might be my last/I don’t want to be just another boy in your past.” I love this song.

“Second Fiddle”

“Second Fiddle” is one of those glorious sad country love songs, about playing “second fiddle in your heart.” And the fiddle itself in this track is sweet (that’s Jelly Sanders). I’m also rather fond of that great, strong, steady bass line by Al Williams.

“Foolin’ Around”

“Foolin’ Around” is a playful song about a woman who is fooling around, and the man who loves her. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “And when you’re tired of fooling around with two or three/Come on home and fool around with me.” This was written by Buck Owens and Harlan Howard, and recorded in December of 1960.

“Gonna Have Love”

“Gonna Have Love” is one of those great optimistic songs, with lines like, “I’m gonna have love one more time/All of my blues I’m gonna leave behind/Baby’s coming back and everything is fine.” This is one of my personal favorites, written by Red Simpson and Buck Owens. I love that lead guitar section.

“Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy”

Christmas will be here soon (whether we want it to be or not). When preparing your Christmas play list, be sure to include Buck Owens’ “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy,” which he co-wrote with Don Rich. This is a very playful song. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “Santa looked a lot like Daddy/Or Daddy looked a lot like him/It’s not the way I had him pictured/Santa was much too thin/He didn’t come down the chimney/So mama must have let him in.”

“Act Naturally” And Other Live Tracks

This collection includes a live version of “Act Naturally,” one of Buck Owens’ most famous tunes, though one he didn’t write. This version was recorded in Bakersfield in 1963, and it sounds great. I love the playful “two, three, four” near the end.

There are some other live tracks in this collection, including two songs recorded at Carnegie Hall on March 25, 1966. “Together Again” is so sweet, and the audience is clearly having a great time. “Buckaroo” is a delicious instrumental tune that might call to mind a couple of other songs.

There are also two songs recorded in Japan in February of 1967. The first, “Adios, Farewell, Goodbye, Good Luck, So Long,” includes the band’s brief introduction. “We Were Made For Each Other” features some nice work on lead guitar.

Some Rare Tracks

This collection includes an alternate version of “Above And Beyond,” which was previously unissued in the U.S. This tune was written by Harlan Howard. Also previously unissued in the U.S. is the alternate version of “Where Does The Good Times Go,” this one with strings. The alternate version of “How Long Will My Baby Be Gone” was also previously unreleased in the U.S. This version is counted off at the beginning, includes hand-claps, and is one of my favorite tracks. It’s just completely delightful.

The early version of “Under The Influence Of Love” was previously unreleased. It was recorded on January 16, 1961, and features some great vocals. It’s a wonderful tune about being under the influence. And who can make a wise decision in such a state? Check out these lyrics: “Why did I let her do me like she did me/Why can’t I get that woman off my mind/Although I know she never truly loved me/I wish she’d break my heart just one more time.” Fantastic, right?

This is the first time this version of “My Heart Skips A Beat” has been available on CD in the U.S. It’s a great version of this sweet and fun love song. I love the bass. The early version of “Close Up The Honky Tonks” was also previously unavailable on CD.

CD Track List

Disc One
  1. Down On The Corner Of Love
  2. Hot Dog
  3. There Goes My Love
  4. Sweet Thing
  5. Second Fiddle
  6. Under Your Spell Again
  7. Above And Beyond
  8. ‘Til These Dreams Come True
  9. Foolin’ Around
  10. Nobody’s Fool But Yours
  11. Under The Influence Of Love
  12. Keeper Of The Key
  13. Down To The River
  14. Fool Me Again
  15. My Heart Skips A Beat
  16. Sweethearts In Heaven
  17. Love’s Gonna Live Here
  18. Down, Down, Down
  19. Act Naturally
  20. Ain’t It Amazin’ Gracie
  21. Close Up The Honky Tonks
  22. Truck Drivin’ Man
  23. I Don’t Hear You
  24. Hello Trouble
Disc Two
  1. I Don’t Care (Just As Long As You Love Me)
  2. Don’t Let Her Know
  3. Buck’s Polka
  4. Playboy
  5. Cryin’ Time
  6. I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail
  7. The Band Keeps Playin’ On
  8. Gonna Have Love
  9. Before You Go
  10. Getting Used To Loving You
  11. Gonna Roll Out The Red Carpet
  12. Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy
  13. We Split The Blanket
  14. Sam’s Place
  15. (I’ll Love You) Forever And Ever
  16. In The Palm Of Your Hand
  17. Pray Every Day
  18. Together Again
  19. Buckaroo
  20. Where Does The Good Times Go
  21. The Way That I Love You
  22. Adios, Farewell, Goodbye, Good Luck, So Long
  23. We Were Made For Each Other
  24. Heartbreak Mountain
  25. How Long Will My Baby Be Gone
  26. The Girl On Sugar Pie Lane
Buck ‘Em! The Music Of Buck Owens (1955-1967) was released on November 5, 2013 through Omnivore Recordings.

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