Buck Owens: Buck 'Em!: The Music of Buck Owens, 1967-1975: Volume 2

This compilation of Buck Owens's late-'60s/early-'70s output focuses on live cuts, rarities, and alternate takes.

Buck Owens

Buck ‘Em!: The Music of Buck Owens, 1967-1975: Volume 2

Label: Omnivore Recordings
US Release Date: 2015-11-11
UK Release Date: 2015-11-11

A must-own compilation for any serious Buck Owens fan.

Buck Owens was one of the most important country musicians of the 20th century, a keystone of the Bakersfield sound, a style of country of music that skewed the lush orchestration of "countrypolitan" for a return to the simple pleasures of the honkytonk. The Bakersfield sound bore the stylistic imprint of rock 'n' roll: electric instrumentation and a backbeat. Country music strongly influenced early rock'n' roll, particularly in the music of Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. Bill Haley, for example, began his music career playing western swing, a genre of country music with a strong jazz and blues influence.

It’s an influence that went both ways. The Beatles were a rockabilly band at heart and covered Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally” on Help!, and the Byrds covered “Buckaroo". Then there was the roots revival that happened late in the 1960s with groups like Creedence Clearwater Revival, late-'60s Byrds, the Grateful Dead, and of course Gram Parsons. Keeping all that in mind, it’s no wonder Buck Owens enjoyed crossover success in the '60s. Hosting Hee-Haw certainly helped keep him in the public eye as did the stylistic excursions he and the Buckaroos went on in this period. And his sartorial choices made a strong impact. Who could forget Buck and his glittering, rhinestone covered Nudie Cohn suits? Certainly not Gram Parsons.

The music contained on this compilation features some deep cuts, alternate takes, and the occasional oddity, an example of the latter being “(It’s A) Monster’s Holiday", which answers the question probably never posed before or since: “What would a country Halloween song sound like?” The answer is, "awesome". You have the normal Buckaroos accoutrements: twin Telecasters, a dash of pedal steel, and the infectious harmonies of Buck Owens and Don Rich.

Another treat is “Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass?”, a country song featuring fuzz guitar, which hit number one on the country charts in 1969. It’s a track that really showcases the versatility of Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. The live cover of “Johnny B. Goode” is another cut that demonstrates this, one that maintains the vigor and infectious joy of the original in a country music setting. Owens's duet with soul singer Bettye Swan on Merle Haggard’s “Today I Started Loving You Again” is another standout track, one that had gone unreleased until this set.

This a must-have for anyone with the slightest interest in this era of country music. It’s a perfect showcase of what Gram Parson’s called "cosmic American music": a blend of country, folk, blues, soul, and rock. In an era filled with acrimonious partisanship, it’s nice to find a more catholic approach to life, at least where the matter of music concerned. Country music has a reputation of conservatism, but this set is a reminder that there some artists are willing to work across genre lines, try new things, and stretch themselves creatively. Buck Owens is a national treasure, and this set is a good reminder why.




Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.


Alastair Sim: A Very English Character Actor Genius

Alastair Sim belongs to those character actors sometimes accused of "hamming it up" because they work at such a high level of internal and external technique that they can't help standing out.


Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers Head "Underwater" in New Video (premiere)

Celebrating the first anniversary of Paper Castle, folksy poppers Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers release an uplifting new video for opening track, "Underwater".


Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's New LP Is Lacking in Songcraft but Rich in Texture

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's The Mosaic of Transformation is a slightly uneven listen. It generally transcends the tropes of its genre, but occasionally substitutes substance for style.


Buzzcocks' 1996 Album 'All Set' Sees the Veteran Band Stretching Out and Gaining Confidence

After the straightforward and workmanlike Trade Test Transmissions, Buzzcocks continued to hone their fresh identity in the studio, as exhibited on the All Set reissue contained on the new box-set Sell You Everything.


Patrick Madden's 'Disparates' Makes Sense in These Crazy Times

There's no social distancing with Patrick Madden's hilarious Disparates. While reading these essays, you'll feel like he's in the room with you.


Perfume Genius Purges Himself and It's Contagious

You need to care so much about your art to pack this much meaning into not only the words, but the tones that adorn and deliver them. Perfume Genius cares so much it hurts on Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E.L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation

Emma Donoghue's Room and E.L. Doctorow's Homer & Langley define and confront life within limited space.


Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump White House -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.