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Buck Owens

Live from Austin, TX – 2017 (New West)

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

It was hard to find a more significant country artist through the 1960s than Buck Owens. With 21 number ones from 1963 ("Act Naturally," included here) and 1972, including a stretch of 14 in a row, Buck Owens was one of country music's biggest stars, bringing his slant on the Bakersfield Sound to stages, radio and television around the world.

In this 1988 Austin City Limits program and nearing 60 years old, Owens appears comfortable with his stature as a torchbearer. His voice isn't as flexible as it once was, but is instantly recognizable and he hits most of the notes. Running through a concise set (less than 30 minutes audio, perhaps a couple minutes more on included DVD) of his hits ("Tiger By the Tail," "Together Again," "Loves Gonna Live Here") and songs he had recently re-recorded for his contemporaneous and quite excellent "Hot Dog" album (the title track, "Put Another Quarter in the Jukebox," and "A-11,") firing off lead licks on several songs.

Dwight Yoakam, who shared this ACL taping and was responsible for reaffirming Owens' status, joins Owens for the penultimate performance of "Under Your Spell Again," a pairing that didn't receive the acclaim their "Streets of Bakersfield" did, but is as artistically significant.

Fronting a four-piece edition of The Buckaroos, a pair of Chuck Berry songs ("Memphis" and the show concluding "Johnny B. Goode") round out the show, one which isn't indispensable, but captures a legend re-emerging after a self-imposed recording hiatus.

The audio album and DVD were originally released separately in 2007 by New West. It has been remastered for 5.1 surround sound, but if you don't have that technology nothing much is noticeably changed from the previously released editions that may already be on your shelves.