Buck Owens became famous for what came to be known as The Bakersfield Sound. He hit big after signing to Capitol Records, but Buck had been kicking around southern California for quite a while before that. The new Bound For Bakersfield 1953-1956 collection contains 24 tracks recorded for various labels before he hit with Capitol. Although some of the material is pretty raw, Buck’s innate talent still shines brightly.
The set opens up with “Blue Love,” complete with some amusing studio chatter. This song was recorded in Hollywood, sometime in 1953, and is pretty primitive. Still, that high-lonesome voice of Buck’s is right on target. The rest of the material was recorded for release as singles, and for his debut album Buck Owens on the La Brea label. The sound quality of these later recordings is much improved over that of the original “Blue Love.”
Whether for historical record, or maybe just to pad things out a bit, a number of alternate versions of the tracks are included. These are invariably inferior takes, however their presence can be justified for the sake of including everything.
The singles he released for labels such as Pep, New Star, and Chesterfield certainly speak for themselves. No wonder Capitol signed him right up. Buck’s rockabilly “Hot Dog” (from 1956) is a classic, even though he released it under the pseudonym Corky Jones out of fear of alienating his country audience. Hearing his wailing guitar solo midway through is a thing of beauty.
“Rhythm And Booze” is even harder rockabilly than “Hot Dog." Showing his true roots though is “There Goes My Love.” This single really captures the Buck Owens Bakersfield sound he became so famous for. His voice is front and center, with a lyric (inevitably) bemoaning a lost love, with classic country elements such as pedal steel proudly on display.