Buck Em! (Vol II)
Something Old, Something New and a Few Other Bits Too, From Country Legend.
Buck Owens is most definitely one of the Godfathers of Modern Country and indeed Alt. Country; but I have to confess I know absolutely nothing about him.
In my defence I probably grew into Country and latterly Alt-Country in the 90’s when this type of music was so far out of fashion it was up there with long beards and bell bottom jeans; never destined for a return.
What do I know? You can’t leave your front door without bumping into a hipster in a beard or a nu-hippie in loon pants; and with the second coming of Country championed originally by Dale Watson and more recently by he likes of Sturgill Simpson and Frankie Lee Buck Owens’ name is bandied about in the hippest of circles.
I didn’t get to hear Volume I of Buck Em! so my learning curve starts here.
Out of the 50 songs here I only recognised 6 titles; of which Owens’ versions of Johnny B Goode and Bridge Over Troubled Water are best forgotten; but the live version of I’ve Got a Tiger By The Tail and then his signature tune Streets of Bakersfield are actually timeless and go to show why these young acts are still using that template to create a brand new sound in the 21st Century.
Of the other songs that stand out, I instantly fell in love with In The Palm of Your Hands and A Different Kind of Sad. Buck’s weary voice and the maudlin pedal-steel that haunt both make them perfect Country Loved and Lost songs; but I’ve always been a sucker for tracks like these.
Although the title is a bit tongue in cheek, 41st Street Lonely Hearts Club is actually a razor sharp Country song, that deserves a much wider audience.
While there is still quite a bit of filler here; remember this 50 track album is Volume II; there are a still a few gems if you tread carefully. Weekend Daddy is a story that is as relevant today as it was when it was written 40 years ago; then the previously unreleased He Ain’t Going Bowling With The Boys is a fascinating tale with a neat twist at the end.
Another song with a twee title is actually my favourite song here; Ain’t it Amazing, Gracie is a gleeful love song and it’s easy to see where Gram Parsons etc. got their inspiration from.
I guess mine and subsequent generations have preconceived ideas about the likes of Buck Owens and other singers of his ilk; but it’s only when you see that tracks are culled from Live albums recorded in Japan, New Zealand, Sydney Opera House Australia and the London Palladium that you understand what a huge star he was all around the world. There is also an incredibly well-informed booklet enclosed which is an absolute revelation and had me quickly ordering Owen’s biography.
I’ve enjoyed this double album; but would really appreciate it if someone could suggest a definitive Best Of Buck Owens single disc which I could keep in the car for those days when only Twang will do.
Released November 13th 2015