by Chuck Dauphin
A few years ago, I wrote an article for another site where I discussed some of the biggest tragedies in Country Music. One of those on my list was the July 1974 motorcycle accident that claimed the life of Don Rich – the leader of Buck Owens’ Buckaroos. In the article, I speculated what might have happened had Rich survived. I said that I thought Owens might incorporate some of the Country-Rock sounds into his music that groups like the Eagles made famous in the mid to late 1970s. You put that Owens in that style, and add Rich’s harmony and guitar work, and you had an opportunity for one of Country’s most dynamic artists to re-invent himself.
What I didn’t know was that Owens actually did record some of the Eagles’ music – sort of. He did cut “Hollywood Waltz” during his years on Warner Brothers, but he also recorded several of the songs of Frey, Henley, and Company for inclusion in the TV series “Hee Haw.” Those recordings have never been available commercially – until now, as Omnivore Records has released them as part of a new series of rare recordings from some of Country Music’s greatest legends, such as George Jones.
How does Owens sound? Better than you might think, though I am sure the purists are going to howl a little bit. But, just as Owens’ style influenced the music of the Eagles and Gram Parsons, it’s amazing at how well it worked on the other side. All four cuts were recorded after Rich’s death, and Owens went on record many times saying he just wasn’t into recording without his “Right Hand Man,” as he called him. But, with these recordings simply being for “Hee Haw,” there’s a looseness that you don’t hear on his post-Rich material. Doyle Curtsinger adds some nice harmony on these cuts, which include “Take It Easy,’ “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Tequila Sunrise,” and “Lyin Eyes.” Of the four, I’ve got to say the first and the last cuts work the best. Some might snicker a little at the concept, but it works very well….and if only Don Rich would have been there. It would have made for a stunning change of direction!
For more information, log on to www.OmnivoreRecordings.com
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