Buck Owens

Open Up Your Heart

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Open Up Your Heart arrived in 1966, in the midst of Buck Owens' remarkable streak of success -- success that would propel him to the stage of Carnegie Hall in March of that year. This album followed a few months later, and while it is still firmly within his trademark Bakersfield sound, there are slight moves away from his twangy, purer material and toward material that was just a little sillier and a little poppier. Not that anybody could accuse Buck Owens & His Buckaroos of abandoning country music, or even making an overture toward the kind of country-pop coming out of Nashville, but the presentation of the music is a little streamlined and not quite as down-home as it used to be. To begin with, Owens handles all of the lead and harmony vocals on the album, with no instrumentals for Don Rich, even. Then, the songs are getting a little sillier, whether it's the characters who populate the chorus on "Sam's Place" or the corny jokes on "Waitin' in Your Welfare Line." Finally, the production is a little more open and bright, sounding like something coming out of an AM radio instead of a dark honky tonk. These are all subtle changes, and they don't change the fundamental sound of Owens' music, even if they change the feel. As such, Open Up Your Heart doesn't resonate quite as strongly as earlier efforts from Owens, nor does it warrant as many repeat plays, but it is still crafted and played well enough to make it a satisfying listen.

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