Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Not Fade Away - Reissue Review from Issue #14 March-April 1998

Buck Owens

Sings Harlan Howard / Sings Tommy Collins (Sundazed)

Buck Owens & His Buckaroos

In Japan! / Your Tender Loving Care / It Takes People Like You To Make People Like Me (Sundazed)

Back in the early ’60s, Uncle Glen used to come home late from his chicken-trucking job, the reason he and Aunt Maggie moved to Bakersfield in the first place. Frozen chicken, I think, since Bakersfield was so hot even a truck driver could afford a swimming pool. Anyway, he’d come in just before bedtime wearing that sweet, tart smell beer makes when sweating out in the cool of the evening, but I could never guess where he’d been, nor why Aunt Maggie was so aggravated about it.

They’ve both passed on, so I can’t ask, but there’s a good chance he caught Buck Owens in the flesh, since Bakersfield then had a boom of honky tonks, and one can but hope that, as much as the bottle, they explained his absence on Friday night. Most of us, we found Buck on “Hee Haw” with his red, white and blue guitar, and figured him for the caricature of a fool he seemed.

A rich fool, of course. These five titles (of 15 reissued so far by Sundazed, an upstate New York label specializing in ’60s garage nuggets) catch much of the arc of Owens’ enormously successful career, beginning with 1961′s homage to Harlan Howard and ending with 1968′s sappy It Takes People Like You To Make People Like Me.

It is difficult, listening backward like this, to explain why Owens today seems to bear the brand of a rebel. Because he was from Bakersfield, not Nashville, and stayed there? Because he was more aggressively electric, and happily embraced the honky-tonk aesthetic? Because he preferred to record in Los Angeles with his own band, not in Nashville with session stars?

Today, these seem comparatively tame recordings, revealing none of the hungry, haunting passion of Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn or Lefty Frizzell. Like Ernest Tubb, Owens made the most of a limited vocal range, developed a distinct, signature phrasing, and had an easy, loping rhythm. But despite his obvious dominance of the country charts throughout the 1960s and his undeniable historical importance, few cuts here are revelations. Mostly these are the familiar sounds one tolerates on cross-country radio, singing along, waiting for more striking songs from less famous stars.

Sings Tommy Collins is the keeper of this batch, if only because Collins’ songs are lesser-known today than Harlan Howard’s. Originally released in November 1963, Sings Tommy Collins catches Owens at the apex of his career and is a splendid reintroduction to wonderful songs such as “If You Ain’t Lovin’ You Ain’t Livin’” and “You Gotta Have A License”. Sings Harlan Howard works less well, if only because better singers have made popular versions of songs such as “Foolin’ Around”, a Howard-Owens co-write, and “Heartaches By The Number”.

In Japan! is what you’d expect, a stilted, well-intended train wreck, complete with a translator onstage and the specially written “Tokyo Polka”. It doesn’t quite catch the Buckaroos, a first-rate ensemble, at the peak of their powers (everybody seems a trifle polite), but it’s fun, if only for the kitsch value.

The two later titles here, Your Tender Loving Care (August 1967) and It Takes People Like You… (January 1968) reveal fewer pleasures. The former, which provided the hit “Sam’s Place”, is far more lively; the latter is filled with saccharine love songs that wear about as well as the fur coat Owens donned for the cover.

All that carping is, of course, a minority view. For their part, Sundazed has done a fine job with these titles. The sound quality is all one could hope for, the original cover artwork has been retained, and the credits are easily found and read.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #14 March-April 1998

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • Rod Kennedy (1930-2014) and the Kerrville Folk Festival - Interview & Remembrance
    Rod Kennedy’s legacy is incalculable for those who truly love music, he departed this earthly plane on Monday 14th April 2014. R.I.P. The following “warts and all” late May 1986 interview with Mr. Kennedy, the founder of the Kerrville Folk Festival, was the lead feature in the debut issue of the Kerrville Kronikle fanzine sometime around 1988. No serendipity […]
  • Lydia Loveless - Somewhere Else (Album Review)
    I’ve heard a lot of really unique descriptions of Lydia Loveless's new album, "Somewhere Else".  It’s always X + Y that supposedly equals a new sound.  None of them seem to capture the essence of the record for me.  On Loveless’s Facebook page, her sound is described as “Loretta Lynn and Patti Smith slamming shots at a Midwestern dive bar whil […]
  • Q and A with Miss Tess and the Talkbacks
    Miss Tess and the Talkbacks are an edgy band.  Edgy in a good way.  From song to song you never know what kind of potion the band will cook up for the listener.  They are masters at so many different styles and when all is said and done, they’re just plain awesome.  Grooving modern vintage music is what they sometimes call their genre and that’s perfect.  It […]
  • Bridie Jackson and the Arbour - New Skin (Album Review)
    Who knew that Choral flavoured Folk music could be this cool? When I first encountered Bridie Jackson and the Arbour three years ago they were like a breath of fresh air blowing across a very stale and dusty Folk music scene; and nothing has changed in the intervening years; apart from them getting better. For once it is genuinely difficult to point you to i […]
  • Blair Dunlop - House of Jacks (Album Review)
    Young folksinger finds a voice to match his impressive words Even at the tender age of 22, Blair Dunlop already has all the hallmarks of a seasoned pro: fronting the reformed and regenerated Albion Band, touring solo virtually non-stop, winning plaudits and awards for his debut album in 2012; all of which all brings us to what they call ‘the difficult second […]
  • Katie Herzig - Walk Through Walls (Album Review)
    Once upon a time, Katie Herzig wore her heart on her sleeve and wielded an acoustic guitar, both apropos of being a singer/songwriter. These days, though, she keeps company with synthesizers and drum loops. Yeah, the heart is still right there on the sleeve, but now you can groove to its beat. Herzig's new collection, Walk Through Walls, is a song cycle […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter