Hello happiness, goodbye loneliness! Over the past dozen years, Omnivore Recordings celebrated Buck Owens on a variety of releases, from a multi-volume series dedicated to the Bakersfield country hero's complete Capitol singles to rare live material, a Buck Sings Eagles EP, a Christmas collection, and even a coloring book. Now, Omnivore is answering fans' wishes and returning nine of his classic Capitol albums to print for the first-time ever on standalone CD. The series, to roll out in three waves, begins tomorrow, August 6, and continues through October 1 as follows:
Sweet Rosie Jones (1968)
I've Got You on My Mind Again (1968)
Tall Dark Stranger (1969)
Your Mother's Prayer (1970)
The Kansas City Song (1970)
I Wouldn't Live in New York City (1970)
In the Palm of Your Hand (1973)
Ain't It Amazing, Gracie (1973)
(It's A) Monster's Holiday (1974)
Every one of the nine albums has been newly remastered from the original analog tapes by Michael Graves. While Bear Family addressed this material in its all-encompassing box sets, these albums have never been released in their original sequences on standalone CD; Sundazed's series stopped short of addressing them.
A No. 2 Country success, Sweet Rosie Jones was the prolific Owens' third album of 1968 - with three more to come! More impressively, the prolific artist-musician-bandleader wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 12 tracks on the LP including the jaunty "Hello, Happiness, Goodbye, Loneliness," the chart-topping "How Long Will My Baby Be Gone?," and the weepy title track. Merle Haggard, ex-Buckaroo and then-husband to Buck's ex-wife Bonnie Owens, was signed to Buck's publishing company. Buck tipped his cowboy hat to Hag with a sympathetic reading of "Swingin' Doors" but likely wasn't too happy when his rival's "Mama Tried" kept "Sweet Rosie Jones" from the No. 1 spot on the Country Singles chart. Sweet Rosie Jones features The Buckaroos (Don Rich, Doyle Holly, Tom Brumley, Bob Morris, Jerry Wiggins, and Willie Cantu) with Jelly Sanders, Jimmy Bryant, Wayne Wilson, Earl Poole Ball, Bert Dodson, and vocal accompaniment by The Jordanaires and Anita Kerr straight out of Nashville.
Buck was on a roll, authoring 11 of the 12 songs on I've Got You on My Mind Again including the title ballad, a heartbreaker with saloon piano and those Nashville Sound-style vocals from The Jordanaires and the ever-dependable Kerr. The lusher style heard on most of the cuts was a definite departure for Owens, but his songwriting was as recognizably straightforward as ever. His son Buddy Alan (Owens) joined him for two cuts - "Let the World Keep On A-Turnin'" and "I'll Love You Forever and Ever" - and Buck even brought a string section into the mix. But the public didn't respond to this "new" Owens, and the album only reached No. 17 on the Country Albums chart after his two previous LPs had landed at the first and second spots. Still, Owens as ever delivered a mix of happy and sad, upbeat and maudlin, humorous and tear-jerking - all with twangy guitars and his warm, inviting, and confident vocals.
"Beware the tall dark stranger if he comes riding into your town," Buck warned on 1969's Tall Dark Stranger. This time, listeners took to the presence of the vocal chorus, and the pulsating track featuring Don Rich's potent guitar made it all the way to No. 1. (The tall dark stranger had also stolen "Sweet Rosie Jones" away, but now he warranted his own dramatic ode.) The album went to No. 2, Buck's final LP to reach that lofty status. It was assembled from sessions going as far back as 1967; Owens had always been busy but his workload had increased with the television debut of Hee Haw. He would ultimately spend roughly 17 years on the show. Due to the strength of his songwriting, though, the album was cohesive and the sound consistent. Buck wrote or co-wrote all of the 11 songs other than First Edition member Mike Settle's "But You Know I Love You." The bright number showed the artist's willingness to experiment, as it boasted strings, brass, and a sunshine pop-style chorus. Sadly, "Tall Dark Stranger" would be Buckaroo Tom Brumley's final appearance with the band.
As these albums' running times are short, Omnivore could have gone the two-fer route. But instead, each has been given its proper place in the Owens canon. Each CD is housed in a jewel case; the thick booklets for each title (beautifully designed by Greg Allen) contain Randy Poe's album-specific notes, master tape scans, photos, the original front and back covers of each LP, and more.
Sweet Rosie Jones, I've Got You on My Mind Again, and Tall Dark Stranger are all due from Omnivore Recordings tomorrow, August 6. You'll find pre-order links and track listings for all three titles below.
- Hello Happiness, Goodbye Loneliness
- Sweet Rosie Jones
- If I Had Three Wishes
- Swingin' Doors
- You'll Never Miss the Water (Till the Well Runs Dry)
- Sally, Mary, and Jerry
- How Long Will My Baby Be Gone?
- Leave Me Something to Remember You By
- The Heartaches Have Just Started
- Everybody Needs Somebody
- The Girl on Sugar Pie Lane
- Happy Times Are Here Again
- I've Got You on My Mind Again
- Let the World Keep on A-Turnin' - with Buddy Alan
- Don't Let True Love Slip Away
- I Wanna Be Wild and Free
- Where Has Our Love Gone?
- Sing a Happy Song
- That's All Right with Me (If It's All Right with You)
- Love Is Me
- Hurry, Come Running Back to Me
- Alabama, Louisiana, or Maybe Tennessee
- I Ain't Gonna Be Treated This A Way
- Tall Dark Stranger
- There's Gotta Be Some Changes Made
- White Satin Bed
- Darlin', You Can Depend on Me
- In the Middle of a Teardrop
- Across This Town and Gone
- Maybe If I Close My Eyes (It'll Go Away)
- I Would Do Anything for You
- Sing That Kind of Song
- Hurtin' Like I've Never Hurt Before
- But You Know I Love You