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They’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail: Don Rich and The Buckaroos Return From Omnivore

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Don Rich - That Fiddlin' ManOmnivore Recordings is going back to Bakersfield. Building on the success of such projects as Honky Tonk Man: Buck Sings Country Classics, Don Rich Sings George Jones, Buck Owens Live at the White House, Buck Sings Eagles, and (this author’s personal favorite!) the Buck Owens Coloring Book and Flexi Disc, Omnivore is mining the rich, rough-and-tumble country-and-western legacy of that California town for two new releases due on July 23.

Buck Owens’ iconic band The Buckaroos are celebrated with The Buckaroos Play Buck and Merle, in which they pay tribute to the two Bakersfield heroes they knew so well, Messrs. Owens and Haggard. This disc brings together the band’s The Buck Owens Songbook (1965) and The Songs of Merle Haggard (1971) on one CD. It will be joined by Don Rich and the Buckaroos’ 1971 album That Fiddlin’ Man in its very first ever appearance on compact disc.

Buck Owens’ guitarist and all-around right-hand man Don Rich often made room in the set for one of his many specialties: the fiddle. On tunes like “Orange Blossom Special,” Rich proved his virtuosity on the instrument, and in 1971, Capitol Records collected ten fiddlin’ tracks from the Buckaroos’ catalogue as That Fiddlin’ Man. Though a few tracks have appeared on CD before, Omnivore is reissuing the album in its original sequence for the very first time, complete with the groovy psychedelic cover artwork! In the spirit of the original release, the label has added another ten tracks of The Buckaroos, Don Rich, and his fiddle, making for a definitive survey of his style. In total, the new compact disc presents 20 tracks drawn from 13 different albums recorded between 1963 and 1970. The expanded edition of That Fiddlin’ Man includes a full-color booklet with new liner notes, photos and information on the source of each track. It should prove a fine companion to Don Rich Sings George Jones, the recently-excavated solo album that spotlights his underrated work as a vocalist. Rich’s life ended too soon when he perished in a motorcycle accident in 1974 at 32 years of age, but his music has proven in the timeless tradition of truly classic country.

Hit the jump to sing along with The Buckaroos!

Buckaroos Play Buck and MerleRich, of course, is also featured on Omnivore’s pairing of two vintage instrumental albums from The Buckaroos. It was Merle Haggard who coined the band’s name when playing for Buck Owens, and so it was entirely fitting that the band – a successful recording act for Capitol Records in its own right – celebrated both Buck and Merle on two LPs. The Buck Owens Song Book arrived in 1965 as the Buckaroos’ very first album sans their leader. Lyrics were provided for an ultimate sing-along experience with the band that proved such an integral part of Buck Owens’ Bakersfield Sound. “Act Naturally” was one of the songs on the LP, and indeed, the freewheeling Buckaroos never had any problem following that direction of Mr. Owens’! Six years (and ten albums) later, The Buckaroos closed out their tenure at the Capitol Tower with The Songs of Merle Haggard. While it didn’t boast a lyric booklet, it did feature some of Hag’s staples like “Okie from Muskogee,” “Mama Tried” and “I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am.”

The newly-combined The Buckaroos Play Buck & Merle features all 22 songs from both original LPs, and in addition to the words to Buck’s tunes, Omnivore will provide the lyrics to the Merle tracks, too. This new presentation also includes original artwork, photographs and comments from surviving Buckaroos Willie Cantu, Doyle Curtsinger and Jim Shaw.
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Both That Fiddlin’ Man and The Buckaroos Play Buck & Merle arrive in stores on July 23, a little more than 39 years following Don Rich’s tragic passing on July 17, 1974. No tribute to that multi-faceted music man could be sweeter. You can order both titles below!

Don Rich and the Buckaroos, That Fiddlin’ Man (Capitol ST-643, 1971 – reissued Omnivore Recordings, 2013)

  1. Orange Blossom Special
  2. Pretty Girl Hoe Down
  3. Louisiana Waltz
  4. Down on the Bayou
  5. Saturday Night
  6. Georgia Peach
  7. Cajun Fiddle
  8. Dublin Waltz
  9. Catfish Capers
  10. Tumwater Breakdown
  11. A Maiden’s Prayer
  12. Going Home to the Bayou
  13. Buckersfield Breakdown
  14. The Way That I Love You
  15. Bile ‘Em Cabbage Down
  16. Faded Love
  17. Fishin’ Reel
  18. Kern County Breakdown
  19. Greensleeves
  20. Fiddle Polka (Live)

Tracks 11-20 are bonus tracks

The Buckaroos, The Buckaroos Play Buck & Merle (Omnivore Recordings, 2013) (Amazon link TBA)

  1. I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail
  2. Together Again
  3. Before You Go
  4. Second Fiddle
  5. Don’t Let Her Know
  6. My Heart Skips a Beat
  7. Act Naturally
  8. Only You (Can Break My Heart)
  9. Love’s Gonna Live Here
  10. Under Your Spell Again
  11. Foolin’ Around
  12. I Don’t Care (Just as Long as You Love Me)
  13. Daddy Frank (The Guitar Man)
  14. Today I Started Loving You Again
  15. The Fightin’ Side of Me
  16. Silver Wings
  17. Okie from Muskogee
  18. The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde
  19. Hungry Eyes
  20. Swinging Doors
  21. I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am
  22. Mama Tried

Tracks 1-12 from The Buck Owens Song Book, Capitol ST-2436, 1965
Tracks 13-24 from The Songs of Merle Haggard, Capitol ST-860, 1971

Written by Joe Marchese

May 17, 2013 at 09:37

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