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At His Best

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Album Review

It would be quite a stretch to say that the eight Buck Owens sides collected here (the last two tracks of this ten-track set are actually instrumental pieces by fellow Hee Haw star Jackie Phelps) are truly Owens at his best. When Owens recorded these for Pep Records in the mid-'50s he was still working in a traditional honky tonk style and had yet to modify things into his trademark jangling, rock-influenced Bakersfield sound. The early singles "Sweethearts in Heaven" and "Down on the Corner of Love" are fine outings as far as they go, but neither was successful in its time and in retrospect they feel somewhat derivative. It's nice to hear this stuff, but it's certainly not Buck Owens the way most people know him. Tossing in the two Phelps tracks just increases the fly-by-night feel of this compilation.


Born: 12 August 1929 in Sherman, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Buck Owens, along with Merle Haggard, was the leader of the Bakersfield sound, a twangy, electricified, rock-influenced interpretation of hardcore honky tonk that emerged in the '60s. Owens was the first bona fide country star to emerge from Bakersfield, scoring a total of 15 consecutive number one hits in the mid-'60s. In the process, he provided an edgy alternative to the string-laden country-pop that was being produced during the '60s. Later in his career, his musical impact was forgotten by some...
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