When originally issued in July of 1965, no one either noticed or cared that in reality The Instrumental Hits was actually a compilation of tracks already available on early Buck Owens & His Buckaroos albums (except for the band's signature song "Buckaroo," which is unique to this package). Regardless of the ratio of new to recycled material, this collection amply highlights the remarkable talents of Owens and his Buckaroos. The retrospective nature of this LP allows listeners to experience the evolution of the potent instrumentalists who accompanied Owens circa 1961-1965. Although it would take several years before a stable touring and recording lineup would be forged, the strong influence and collaborative efforts of Don Rich were there right from the beginning. Whether it's with a fiddle under his chin on songs such as "Bile 'Em Cabbage Down" and "Faded Love" or dueling guitars on "Buckaroo," Rich is undoubtedly the soul of the band, if Owens is the heart. Owens -- who is most notable as a lead vocalist -- is highlighted on this release as one heck of an underrated instrumentalist. The restless grace in his picking thrusts "Country Polka," "Raz-Ma-Taz Polka," and "Buck's Polka" into orbit via the trademark full-toned electric C&W feel that would ultimately create the Bakersfield sound. This compilation should not be missed.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer