Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Dwight Yoakam has a sticker on his guitar that says “Buck Yeah” which pays homage to Buck Owens. I second that emotion and would like to add a slogan of my own: “Buckin’ A”. Most people remember Buck Owens from his days on Hee Haw, but he was so much more than that. He created the Bakersfield sound which was full of twang and quite innovative at the time. Yoakam credits Buck as one of his main influences and it is easy to see why. This collection of tunes is an absolute must have for any music fan. It is true that these songs have appeared on other collections, but you can never have too much Buck. Also, these recordings were taken from the original mono reels and sound brilliant.
Buck doesn’t get the recognition that Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, or Merle Haggard gets, but he deserves every bit as much. Here is what Dwight Yoakam said about Owens: “To say that Buck Owens was a singularly unique figure in country music would be light years beyond cliché. There have been four, maybe five, other artists in the history of the entire genre who have left as indelible a sonic imprint on so many millions of listeners’ ears. This collection of music should introduce new listeners and reacquaint old fans with just how cool country music can be.” Sentiments I agree with 100%. These songs sound great today and do not sound dated or antiquated.
I have heard most of these songs hundreds of times and they still sound amazing and I am compelled to play them even more. Some would say these songs are simplistic. That may be true, but sometimes less is more. In the case of Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, it certainly is. All of the songs are around two and a half to three minutes long and do not contain any complex playing. What they do contain is a winning formula for longevity. These songs are over 50 years old and could be released today. Even Dwight had an album in 2005 called Dwight Sings Buck which was filled with all Buck Owens songs.
As I am writing this, I am listening with glee to songs like Under Your Spell Again, Above And Beyond, Excuse Me (I Think I’ve Got A Heartache), Foolin’ Around, Together Again, Only You (Can Break My Heart), and Cryin’ Time. I could name at least 30 more songs that are fantastic, but I need to show a little restraint. Ok, this is the last one – Buck Owens does a wonderful countrified rendition of the R&B classic Save The Last Dance For Me. This collection is 56 songs of Buckin’ bliss. After you listen, you may need a cigarette, even if you are not a smoker.