Album Reviews

Buck Owens

The Complete Capitol Singles, 1957-1966

Artist:     Buck Owens

Album:     The Complete Capitol Singles, 1957-1966

Label:     Omnivore

Release Date:     12/09/2016

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When Americana aficionados talk about “The Bakersfield Sound,” they mean Buck Owens. Honky Tonk and heartache, twangy guitars and dreamy steel, hillbilly harmonies and pop hooks. Yup, that’s Buck.

Together with the Buck Owens estate, Omnivore Recordings has released The Complete Capitol Singles 1957-1966,  giving the listener all the classics and more. Taken from the original mono single reels, the compilation collects all 56 sides from that period, including 13 Number One 1 hits. Newly remastered, and featuring liner notes from Buck’s autobiography (written with Randy Poe), plus an introduction by musical disciple Dwight Yoakam, the set presents the golden age of Buck Owens in an entirely new way. Featured are such hits as “Above and Beyond,” “Foolin’ Around,” “Under the Influence of Love,” Act Naturally” and “I’ve Got A Tiger by the Tail” among many other chart toppers.

According to Yoakam, “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 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.”

There are many reasons Buck Owens and his Buckaroos were the hottest band in the world in the 1960s and 1970s, but one is certainly the work of multi-instrumentalist Don Rich. As evidenced on the 2013 reissue of That Fiddlin’ Man, Don certainly knew his way around four strings (he began as the band’s violinist), but his twangin’ guitar work was his calling card.

Owens once said of his right-hand man: “The reason Capitol Records sounded the way they did—real heavy on the treble—was because I knew most people were going to be listening to ’em on their AM car radios. At the time, nobody else was doing anything like that, but it just seemed like common sense to me. And it as one more reason that you knew it was a Buck Owens record as soon as it came on the radio—because it just didn’t sound like those other records.”

As previously noted by Yoakam, the Buck Owens’ sound would influence generations of country, pop, and rock musicians, perhaps none more than Clarence White of the Byrds. White paid tribute with his cover of “Buckaroo” and together with machinist and musician Gene Parson helped invent a whole new instrument called the B-bender guitar. White sought a way to combine the twang of the Fender Telecaster with the fluidity of the pedal steel guitar in one instrument. Parsons took these ideas and built a mechanism into the back of a guitar that allowed the player to bend the B string up a full step by pulling down on the guitar strap. One can postulate that if not for Buck Owens, White may have never pursued that path. Whatever the case, Owens forged a sound that inspired artists and changed country music forever.

Highly recommended, y’all!

—Mike Cobb

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