Dust Bin Ol’ Buck, part 3
posted by July 25 at 10:38 AMon
My copyediting duties have kept me from my promised Buck Owens posts for the past two days, but now they’re back. Today, it’s The Instrumental Hits of Buck Owens and His Buckaroos (Capitol, 1965).
The extremely danceable Instrumental Hits of Buck Owens and His Buckaroos is absolutely wonderful. It really shows off all the Buckaroos’ talents. That’s something I love about Buck Owens: He lets all his players shine equally; it’s not all about him.
The album notes helpfully outline who’s featured on each of the songs, and we get plenty of Don Rich on fiddle and guitar. Oh, and did you know that Rich was originally from Tumwater? Way to go, Washington! And, when Rich died tragically in that motorcycle accident north of Bakersfield, he was only 32. This means that he was only 18 or 19 when he first started playing with Owens, and in his early to mid 20s when he made all these great records we’ve been talking about. Goddamn. The album notes rightly describe Rich’s fiddling as “handsome,” and it’s particularly handsome on “Orange Blossom Special” and Bob Wills’s “Faded Love” and “A Maiden’s Prayer.” He also plays a handsome guitar on “Buckaroo,” Owens’s theme song. Hell, he plays handsomely throughout the whole album. And just look at that ever-present smile.
Owens adds his “rousing” guitar work, according to the album notes, to four cheerful polkas, which give props to the influence that Southern California Latino music had on Owens. Three of the polkas—“Buck’s Polka,” “Raz-Ma-Taz Polka,” and “Country Polka”—are essentially the same song with a few variances in each one; “Country Polka” is my favorite because it’s the fastest and it has a sweet piano solo. “Mexican Polka” appears to be a faster, reworked version of the excellent “Honeysuckle” off Young Buck: The Complete Pre-Capitol Recordings (more on this album later in the week). And steel guitarist Tom Brumley really rips it up on the fun “Bud’s Bounce” and “Steel Guitar Rag.”
Here’s “Buck’s Polka,” with Owens on guitar:
And “Cajun Fiddle,” featuring Rich on fiddle and Brumley on steel guitar (this isn’t on the album):