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

Discuss

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

  • The Post-Newport Earthquake: Watkins Family Hour
    Did you feel it? That's what everybody in Los Angeles asks each other whenever a shake or quake rattles and rolls through the valleys and flatlands. Sometimes there's just a release of pressure beneath the crust, and other times it's an up and down jolt that lasts only a second. And then you forget about it. Until the next time.  Sunday night […]
  • Chris Isaak's Life Beyond the Sun
    In 2011, Chris Isaak took the long overdue step of recording an album at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn. It wasn't just any album, it was faithful interpretations of classic songs by his musical mentors and heroes: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. It didn’t take much of a leap of imagination to predict that the album would be […]
  • Waylon, John Prine, Kinky, Gram Parsons ... Come Together
    Musicians & Movie Stars: Brief Encounters by W. Conrad This began as a foreword for a small collection of pictures and articles I am assembling for a book I plan to self-publish. As the memories piled on, the words accumulated into a short memoir and loose chronology of what happened in my life and on paper between 1967 and 1979. All of my No Depression […]
  • Dave & Phil Alvin & the Guilty Ones – Dakota Jazz Club (Minneapolis, Minn. – July 26, 2014)
    “My brother Dave is a triple threat and I’m so proud of him – singer, songwriter, and guitar player.” That’s what Phil Alvin told a July 26 sellout crowd at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, Minn. The show was winding down but fans were totally pumped as the Alvin brothers exchanged pleasantries and showed no sign of their famed sibling rivalry after Dave […]
  • Celebrating 40 Years of Schoolkids Records: An Interview with Owner Stephen Judge
    This year marks the 40th anniversary of Watergate. That's not really anything to celebrate, it's not an accomplishment, and what's that got to do with music? Nothing. It simply marks the inevitable passage of time. But, 2014 also marks the 40th anniversary of Raleigh, N.C.'s Schoolkids Records, which is an accomplishment and is definitely […]
  • Getting to Know the Levins - Falcon Ridge Emerging Artists
    Huey Lewis and the News have been known to sing about “The Power of Love,” but it was “the power of music” that brought Julia and Ira Levin together.  Their collaboration is a mighty one and it sure feels like it was a union that was truly meant to be. As they state in the interview below, they are committed to making the world a happier place through their […]

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