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Buck Owens

Buck Owens in London – 2005 (Sundazed)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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Buck Owens was not averse to putting out live albums. "In London," released in March 1969, was his third in three years. "Big in Vegas" followed close on its heels the same year, with another double shot of albums in 1972; and those are only domestic live releases. In his fine liner notes to the reissue, Deke Dickerson suggests that this one might be the best of the lot, and he may well be right. But what's remarkable is that none of them are throwaways, and each brought something distinctive to the table.

As usual, there's a medley or two to cover a bunch of Buck's classics, along with live versions of recent hits (here, "Sweet Rosie Jones," "I've Got You On My Mind Again," and "Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass"), a couple of instrumentals, and plenty of clowning between Buck and his Buckaroos. And what does this live disc offer that the others don't? A distinct country-rock vibe (Owens even describes the instrumental "A Happening In London Town," written for the visit, like "Tokyo Polka" on "In Japan," as "kind of a country-rock song"), a three-song Cajun set, Owens's only recorded version of Haggard's "Sing Me Back Home" and, fresh off the Byrds' "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" sessions, the first appearance on a Buck Owens recording by Jay Dee Maness, who replaced longtime Buckaroo steel man Tom Brumley. The reissue adds something new, too: four tracks that did not appear on the original LP.