The Buckaroos: The Buckaroos Play Buck & Merle
Buck Owens was one hell of a songwriter, but it was his backing band, The Buckaroos, that gave his tunes the muscle that made them hits. This reissue compiles 1965’s The Buck Owens Songbook and 1971’s The Songs of Merle Haggard. The Owens tunes have an extra guitar or fiddle solo dropped in here and there, but basically, they sound like the backing tracks with the vocals erased—Bakersfield karaoke if you will. It’s helpful if you want to learn the
licks, but it’s not really interesting otherwise. The Haggard tracks are slightly better, with a lot more spunk than the Owens Material. The players show off their chops here with short, concise solos. Unhappily, the band adds a verse of reverb-soaked harmonic vocals to the songs, making them sound more
like pop hits by the Hi-Lows, than like the work of one of country’s most famous hard-asses.