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Act Naturally: Buck Owens Is “Bound For Bakersfield”

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Buck Owens and Bakersfield have always gone together, the singer and guitarist inextricably linked to his California home.  Owens’ “Bakersfield Sound” was a carefully-developed response to the slick, string-laden productions frequently coming out of Nashville, and a return to real country roots in the late 1960s.   RockBeat Records is building an eclectic line-up (including a new studio recording from a California legend of the pop/rock world, Jackie DeShannon) and has announced Bound for Bakersfield 1953-1956: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection, due for release on September 26.

These tracks form the cornerstone of Owens’ long career, which took off when he signed to Capitol Records.  He recorded his first session for Capitol in 1957 and released his first long-player on the famed label in 1961.  His stripped-down sound inspired legions of admirers including The Beatles, who performed “Act Naturally” with Ringo Starr on lead vocals.  (Ringo and Buck performed a duet version of the song in 1989.)  Yet Owens may be best-remembered today for his lengthy run (1969-1986) on the television program Hee Haw, co-hosting with Roy Clark.

The 24-song reissue expands on previous collections of this material, including 2001’s 21-track Young Buck on the Audium label.  The new compilation opens with selections from his first known session in 1953 in Hollywood, which produced two singles (“Down on the Corner of Love” b/w “It Don’t Show on Me” and “The House Down the Block” b/w “Right After the Dance”) on Claude Caviness’ Pico Rivera-based Pep Records. It closes with a 1956 Bakersfield session that produced singles on Chesterfield Records and an album on La Brea Records. Included are previously unreleased alternate takes including an overdubbed version of “Hot Dog.”  These songs are largely honky tonk-style though Owens experimented with rockabilly on the route to perfecting his signature sound.

Hit the jump for more, including the track listing with discography, and a pre-order link!

Compiled by James Austin (RockBeat’s VP of A&R) and Jim Shaw of Owens’ band The Buckaroos, Bound for Bakersfield offers new liner notes written by Rich Kienzle, the author of the multimedia biography About Buck, which can be read here.

According to Kienzle’s notes, “Buck Owens was 21 when he rolled into Bakersfield from Phoenix in May, 1951, a part-time musician and laborer who had his eye on a musical career. It would take some time. There were lessons to be learned and dues to be paid. But in the final analysis, the Buck of legend, of the raw honky-tonk vocals, catchy commercial tunes, twangy Fender Telecasters and churning, aggressive ‘freight train’ rhythms was forged in Bakersfield’s honky tonks and recording studios there and in L.A. from 1951 to 1957.”

Kienzle continues, “Buck Owens was always known for his spot-on instincts. Clearly, his expectation that he’d have no recording career beyond Pep and the odd demo or two was a rare miscalculation. These raw, primal performances, blended with hundreds of hours onstage at the Blackboard (club in Bakersfield), were essentially part of a long rehearsal for the fame that came soon enough.”

You can hear these “rehearsals” for yourself on September 26 when RockBeat releases the sound of a young Buck Owens most certainly acting naturally as Bound for Bakersfield 1953-1956: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection.   Hee haw!

Buck Owens, Bound for Bakersfield 1953-1956: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection (RockBeat Records, 2011)

  1. Blue Love (with Studio Chatter)
  2. Down on the Corner of Love (Alternate)
  3. Down on the Corner of Love
  4. It Don’t Show on Me (Alternate)
  5. It Don’t Show on Me
  6. The House Down the Block (Alternate)
  7. The House Down the Block
  8. Right After the Dance (Alternate)
  9. Right After the Dance
  10. Hot Dog
  11. Hot Dog (Overdubbed Single Version)
  12. Rhythm & Booze
  13. There Goes My Love (Alternate)
  14. There Goes My Love
  15. Sweethearts in Heaven (Alternate)
  16. Sweethearts in Heaven
  17. Honeysuckle
  18. Country Girl (Leavin’ Dirty Tracks)
  19. You’re Fer Me
  20. Blue Love
  21. Please Don’t Take Her from Me
  22. Three Dimension Love
  23. Why Don’t Mommy Wanna Stay with Daddy & Me?
  24. I’m Gonna Blow

Tracks 1-2, 4, 6 & 8 from Young Buck: The Complete Pre-Capitol Recordings of Buck Owens, Audium 8124, 2001
Tracks 3 & 5 from Pep single 105, 1956
Tracks 7 & 9 from Pep single 106, 1956
Tracks 10 & 12 from Pep single 107, 1956
Tracks 11, 13 & 15 possibly previously unreleased
Tracks 14 & 16 from Pep single 109, 1956
Track 17-18 from Chesterfield single 44223, 1957
Tracks 19-24 may have first appeared on Buck Owens, La Brea LP L-8017, 1960

Written by Joe Marchese

August 26, 2011 at 10:29

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