Compact Capsules by Dan Ferguson
We step back into the past this week with a couple of historical collections to enlighten folks to the early sounds of honky tonker Buck Owens and a wonderful set focusing on the grand soul & R&B of the legendary Muscle Shoals-based Fame record label.
Bound for Bakersfield 1953-56
Before he was kicking out a steady stream of infectious, chart topping honky tonk hits for Capitol Records in the 1960s with his band The Buckaroos, Country Music Hall of Famer Buck Owens was a multi-stylist of sorts who dabbled in many sounds, even having to go to the extreme of recording under a pseudonym to get his rockabilly Jones off without getting blacklisted by his country peers (the 1956 tune "Hot Dog" recorded under the name Corky Jones!). Bound for Bakersfield takes us back to the early recordings of Owens for such small labels as Pep, La Brea and Chesterfield. Checking in at 24 tracks, the collection begins with selections from Owens' first known recording session in Hollywood in 1953 and sees him collaborating with some of the pioneers of the early Bakersfield country sound, one far more electrified than C&W coming out of Nashville. It is raw, undiluted Owens where his ear for melody and trailblazing talents on the Telecaster guitar are obvious from the get-go and where by 1956, his chops had grown by leaps and bounds. Simply put, the material found on Bound for Bakersfield is where the seeds were sowed for the greatness to come. Visit www.rockbeatrecords.com.
The Fame Studios Story 1961-73
It is the recording studio that put the town of Muscle Shoals, Alabama on the map. Fame Studios was the setting for classic recordings from a veritable who's who of heavy hitters of the soul, R&B and even pop ranks such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Etta James Otis Redding, and Arthur Alexander, to name but just a handful. At 75 tracks spread over 3 discs and a great book to boot, think of the superb compilation The Fame Studios Story as the motherlode of the best of all that went down at the renowned joint. Heck, even The Osmond Brothers weigh in with "One Bad Apple." Visit www.acerecords.co.uk.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 - 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3.)