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Buck Owens

Bound for Bakersfield: 1953-1956 The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection – 2011 (RockBeat)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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Buck Owens had not yet developed the style that would make him a superstar in the '60s when he recorded the songs in this collection for small California labels Pep, Chesterfield and La Brea Records between 1953 and 1956. The Hank Williams influence is heard in the balladBlue Love, Owens' first known recording, as well as early Owens compositions Right After The Dance, Down On The Corner Of Love and It Don't Show On Me.

Other impressive Owens compositions are the George Jones style tear jerkers Why Don't My Mommy Stay With My Daddy And Me? and Country Girl (Leavin' Dirty Tracks). The tunes that come closest to foreshadowing the harmonies that he would later perfect with Don Rich are Sweethearts In Heaven and There Goes My Love.

Amongst the most interesting tracks are those that have the least in common with Owens' later work, particularly the rockabilly tunes released under the pseudonym Corky Jones to avoid offending country purists. Hot Dog is an Elvis inspired rocker that features a blazing Scotty Moore style solo from guitarist Roy Nichols, while the raunchy Rhythm And Booze recalls the Johnny Burnette Trio's Baby Please Don't Go . Owens' voice is unrecognizable on the effective blues track I'm Gonna Blow that concludes the set.

Though some of the recordings here are crude compared to the hits Owens would later produce this is a fascinating collection that reveals a prominent artist in the early stages of his career.