Friday, November 4, 2011

Song of the Week: Right After the Dance by Buck Owens

As we've mentioned before, this continues to be a good year for tradtional country. Buck Owens adds his name to Country Hall of Fame artists in the news this year. Rockbeat records has recently released Bound for Bakersfield 53-56: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection. Like Hank Williams' Lost Notebooks from earlier this year, this album is a peek into the early formative years of a country musical genius. At the peak of his career, Buck Owens influenced everybody from Merle Haggard to Creedence Clearwater Revival to the Beatles. This collection takes us to Buck's earliest recorded works and gives us some insight into his influences. As country musicians (and fans) ourselves, we often feel the tug of war between tradtional country and modern country music. Many country purists complain that country music has gone steadily downhill since the 70s. Listening to this collection reveals that the debate between traditional and modern has raged since almost the very beginning of country music itself. The cuts on this album alternate between electric telecaster-driven rockabilly (like "Rhythm and Booze") and steel guitar powered country blues (like "There Goes My Love.") In fact, many of the songs on this album appear in two versions, perhaps indicating that Buck felt pulled in two directions at this early stage of his career. But the Buck Owens who would soon become legendary managed to combine his rockabillly and country influences. The result (as in "Right After the Dance") combines the best elements of both. Perhaps that message is as great a gift as the album itself. Even in death, Buck still manages to influence us for the better.

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