Album Review

Various Artists - Happy Birthday, Buck: A Texas Salute To Buck Owens

Various Artists - Happy Birthday, Buck: A Texas Salute To Buck Owens

For eleven years, the honky-tonk stalwarts of Austin have gathered each year at the fabled Continental Club to celebrate Buck Owens' birthday with a raucous showcase of songs by the master. Now the rest of us can hear what it's like with this 22-cut disc produced by Casper Rawls and David Sanger. Except for the live "Love's Gonna Live Here," sung by Buck when he attended the celebration in 1995, the songs are studio recordings. The production quality is consistently high, and the interpretations are reverential without being repetitious. Don't look for "Tiger By The Tail" or "Act Naturally"; part of being cool in Austin is knowing the deep catalogue, so instead there are fresh takes on obscurities such as "Mental Cruelty" and "Flash, Crash And Thunder". David Ball leads off with a confident "Made In Japan", which sufficiently sets the Bakersfield steel-and-guitar tone for the proceedings. Rick Trevino's "How Long Will My Baby Be Gone", Rosie Flores' "Down To The River", and Jim Lauderdale's "Sweet Rosie Jones" are just a few of the highlights. Not surprisingly, Owens acolytes the Derailers turn in the most faithful rendering with "Under Your Spell", but Monte Warden, the LeRoi Brothers, Cornell Hurd, Ted Roddy, Rodney Crowell and many others also contribute polished cuts. As Buck used to say on "Hee-Haw", "Saaaal-ute!"