Country music icon Buck Owens has been dead almost a decade, but his music and influence on modern artists remain strong as ever. Two years ago, Omnivore Recordings struck gold with the two-disc “Buck ‘Em! The Music of Buck Owens (1955-1967)” and they’ve taken things to the next level with the release of an even-better second installment.
“Buck ‘Em! Volume 2: The Music of Buck Owens (1967-1975)” focuses on the fertile years of the later 1960s and early ‘70s when Owens was a fixture on American television via his gig on “Hee Haw.” This two-CD, 50-track collection of tunes showcases the Bakersfield, Calif. native at the peak of his powers.
The set also includes lengthy excerpts from Owens’ autobiography in which he discusses, among other things, the death of songwriting partner and best friend Don Rich and his acrimonious split with longtime label Capitol Records. Owens also is refreshingly candid about the peaks and valleys of his career during this time span.
There isn’t a misfire to be found on the 130-minute set, but pay extra attention to standouts “You’ll Never Miss the Water (Till the Well Runs Dry),” “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail,” “Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass,” “Tall Dark Stranger,” “Ruby (Are You Mad),” “Ain’t It Amazing, Gracie,” “Streets of Bakersfield,” “Big Game Hunter,” “On the Cover of the Music City News,” “Somewhere Between You and Me” (with Susan Raye),” “41st Street Lonely Hearts Club” and “Country Singer’s Prayer.” Highly recommended. (Jeffrey Sisk)