Buck Owens (from the albums Sweet Rosie Jones, Until I’ve Got You on My Mind Again, Tall Dark Stranger available Omnivore Recordings) (by Brian Rock)
Country Music Hall of Famer, Buck Owens, finds several of his original Capitol Records releases being lovingly remastered and rereleased by Omnivore Recordings. By the end of this year, Omnivore will release nine original Buck Owens’ albums. The first three (“Sweet Rosie Jones,” “I’ve Got You on My Mind Again,” and “Tall Dark Stranger”) will hit stores on August 6th. Three more (“Your Mother’s Prayer,” “The Kansas City Song,” and “I Wouldn’t Live In New York City”) will be released on August 27th. The final three (“In the Palm of Your Hand,” “Ain’t It Amazing, Grace,” and “[It’s A] Monster’s Holiday”) will be available on October 1st.
For those of us too young to have experienced these releases the first time around, a little perspective is in order. By 1968 when the first of these albums was released, Country music had lost its way. Hank Williams & Patsy Cline were long gone. Johnny Cash was battling his personal amphetamine demons. The Beatles had changed the musical landscape for all genres, and the Summer of Love had introduced sonic elements that were light years away from traditional Country. A confused Nashville brain trust sought refuge in the easy listening melodies of Hollywood icon, Burt Bacharach. The result was a sludge of soulless, light orchestral pap that resembled real country in the same sense that applesauce resembles real apples. Against this backdrop, Buck Owens defiantly released authentic Country music on his own terms. Buck had the foresight to create his own music publishing company, so he maintained creative control of his music. He had the Beatles cover one of his songs, which gave him crossover appeal. And he was coming off a string of 14 consecutive number one Country singles, which gave him freedom to ‘buck” Nashville. His albums during this period (1968-1974) became the bridge that spanned from traditional Country to Outlaw Country.
Unlike greatest hits packages, these albums reveal a wider array of Buck’s music. Sweet Rosie Jonesfor instance, contains the top 10 hits, “Sweet Rosie Jones,” and “How Long Will My Baby Be Gone.” But there’s also a half dozen memorable tunes that you won’t find on his “hits” compilations. “Hello Happiness, Goodbye Loneliness”, is an optimistic piano and steel guitar driven Honky-Tonk number that foreshadows Waylon Jennings at his most playful. “If I Had Three Wishes” embraces the Appalachian roots of Country. “The Heartaches Have Just Started” is a direct connection to the spirit of Hank Williams. “Everybody Needs Somebody” combines Country and Folk in a way that Jim Lauderdale will later embrace. “The Girl on Sugar Pie Lane” is a playful, Telecaster driven reminder of the fun side of love. “Happy Times Are Here Again,” also reminds us that love is meant to be enjoyed.
I’ve Got You on My Mind Again contains the hit title song and “Let The World Keep On A Turnin’.” But again, this album features great songs that were never released as singles. “I Wanna Be Wild and Free”, “Where Has Our Love Gone”, “Sing A Happy Song”, “That’s All Right With Me (If It’s All Right With You)”, “Love is Me”, and “Alabama, Louisiana, Or Maybe Tennessee” are great examples of Western music, Rockabilly, Country Ballad, and Honky-Tonk that are worthy additions to any Country collection.
Tall Dark Stranger contains the hit, movie theme sounding title track. Other stand out tracks include, “White Satin Bed,” “I’m in the Middle of a Teardrop”, “Across This Town And Gone”, “I Would Do Anything For You”, “Hurtin’ Like I’ve Never Hurt Before”, and “But You Know I Love You”. Less upbeat than the previous two albums here, this one focuses on traditional heartbreak themes.
Together, these three albums served as a sort of north star to help rudderless Nashville find its way back to shore. The songs have all been remastered from the original tapes and sound fresher than ever. The original album artwork and liner notes are included as well as new commentary and photographs taken during the recording sessions. The text and photos are presented in a twelve page booklet for each CD, each one ending with a copy of the original Buck Owens fan club sign up card. Perhaps the best testament to these recordings comes from the original liner notes from “I’ve Got You On My Mind Again” - “If you were to feed a computer the question, ‘Why is Buck Owens such a success?’ the answer might go something like this: ‘Buck Owens is Country Music!’” It was true fifty years ago, and it’s still true today.
Listen and buy Sweet Rosie Jones from AMAZON
Listen and buy Until I’ve Got You on My Mind Again from AMAZON
Listen and buy Tall Dark Stranger from AMAZON
Visit the Buck Owens website for more information