Buck Owens was tremendously prolific in the 1960s, releasing 25-plus albums for Capitol Records during the decade. Many more followed in the 1970s, before Owens stepped back after the death of longtime harmony vocalist/guitarist/fiddler Don Rich in a 1974 motorcycle accident. From the mid-’60s on, Owens’ backing band the Buckaroos maintained a recording career of their own, releasing a string of albums (also for Capitol) that typically alternate between instrumentals and vocal spotlights by the various band members.
Recently I ran across one I had never seen before — Anywhere U.S.A. — so of course I had to pick it up. I also finally got curious enough to look up just how many Buckaroos albums there are, since over the last few years of crate digging I have continued to intermittently see discs I had not previously encountered. Turns out the Buckaroos cranked out 11 LPs of their own from 1966 to 1971, plus another credited to Rich as leader.
Anywhere U.S.A. shows the band starting to stretch out a bit more than usual. The title track throws some fuzz into the mix; “Tim-Buck-Too” is a “Classical Gas”-esque guitar instrumental (with some melodies via “Blue Skies”) by Don Rich, and “March of the McGregor” is essentially a steel guitar vs. drums battle. In a more general sense the sound is somewhat changed up by the addition of keyboard, which turns out to have been played by secret Buckaroo Earl Ball, according to session notes from the Praguefrank’s Country Music Discographies site.
The album is also one of the more engaging ones musically I’ve heard, and unlike some of their earlier titles, sounds more like a Buckaroos project rather than Buck-lite (which, if you like the Bakersfield sound they helped pioneer as much as I do, is not an insult). The band members wrote the entire album aside from the traditional “Greensleeves,” added as a fiddle workout for Rich. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for some more of their later LPs, which do not seem to turn up as much as the first handful do.
(Capitol ST-194, 1969)