Album Review: Buck Owens and the Buckaroos: The Complete Capitol Singles: 1957 - 1966

The first and most-prolific decade of Buck Owens career is chronicled on this 56 track, two album collection of every single of the era from Omnivore Recordings.

The Buck Owens catalog of music has been getting re-visited via an extensive campaign of re-issues via Omnivore Recordings and Buck Owens Enterprises and on this extensive two disc collection, Buck Owens delivers what became known as the most-popular version of country music (enough to have The Beatles cover his music). After two two-disc Buck 'Em: The Music Of Buck Owens collections, -- albums which showcased the two major decades of Buck’s career -- we now get the first decade of his career chronicled via his singles released in chronological order on The Complete Capitol Sinlges: 1957-1966. The first four songs on this project (“Come Back,” “I Know What It Means,” “Sweet Thing” and “I Only Know That I Love You”) showcase Owens before he decided to record with his own band (The Buckaroos) and in Capitol Records' studios in Hollywood, CA.

“I’ll Take A Chance On Loving You” showcases Buck Owens becoming the artist we’ve grown to love and it is from that four song session recorded on October 9, 1958 that we got his first country radio hit, “Second Fiddle.” It’s fun to here the roots of the sound of of a country music titan coalesce in chronological order throughout this extensive collection of singles. “Under Your Spell Again” was Buck’s first Top 5 hit and while it’d take four years until he started to regularly score number one hits (all of which appear on his the second disc of 28 songs which chronicles the 1963-1966 years), we do have now standards like “Above And Beyond” “Excuse Me (I Think I’ve Got A Heartache),” “Foolion’ Around” and “Under The Influence Of Love” amongst those classics found on the first disc of this collection. “High As The Mountains,” the b-side to “Foolin’ Around” became a Top 30 hit in its own right.

Buck Owens was at the forefront of the male/female duets rise of the early 1960s with Rose Maddox as his counterpoint with the hits “Mental Cruelty” and “Loose Talk” both appearing on the very same album. These were the duo’s two most-successful duets while later on they also recorded “We’re The Talk Of The Town” and “Sweethearts In Heaven” to more moderate chart success.

If one was only looking at the biggest hits from Buck Owens (or his #1s) they’d have to start with 1963’s “Act Naturally.” Later recorded by The Beatles, it was the first #1 of Buck’s career and to only listen to his #1s would be to miss the ENTIRE first 14 singles of Buck’s legendary career (the first 28 songs of this collection on the first disc). The hit parade continues with iconic hits like “Love’s Gonna Live Here” (the longest-running #1 hit — 16 weeks — until Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” in 2013), “My Heart Skips A Beat” and“Together Again” (both #1 hits). “Together Again” is actually the biggest B-side of Buck Owens’ career and is now known as one of his most-iconic hits. “I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail” — from 1964 — made Buck Owens and the Buckaroos only Top 40 hit on the pop charts (making them a “one hit wonder” there). “Buckaroo” is interesting in that it was a #1 hit as an instrumental. Buck Owens classic Christmas tune “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy” was backed with “All I Want Fro Christmas Dear Is You” and while neither were country chart hits, “Daddy” was a big hit for Buck as it became a yuletide season favorite and has often been recorded since Buck’s 1965 original.

While most hits collections would only collect the A-sides and other hits, Buck Owens and the Buckaroos: The Complete Capitol Singles : 1957-1966 gives us the B-sides too and it provides a deeper, stronger look into a career many artists still marvel at. Here’s hoping Omnivore Recordings and Buck Owens Enterprises get around to releasing a second decade collection as this one is a collection any true blue country music fan should want in their collection, especially with interesting liner notes and sessionography with dates for when each of these songs on this collection was recorded and who played on them.