Buck Owens

After the Dance

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In the '50s, before he broke big, Buck Owens -- like many up-and-coming singing stars -- recorded a number of songs for small labels like Pep and Chesterfield. After the Dance collects 11 of these songs to draw a portrait of an artist in the making, a singer recognizable but not yet distinct. Titles like "Please Don't Take Her from Me" and "Why Don't Mommy Stay with Daddy and Me" hint at the maudlin nature of these songs. Often sung against the backdrop of a steel guitar, it's easy to hear the influence that Hank Williams had over Owens and other '50s country singers. The recording quality of these songs is good if not great, while the performances are solid if somewhat standard. For Owens fans interested in his origins as a performer, After the Dance (which perhaps should be called "Before the Dance") fits the bill. There's a truly bizarre recording of "That Ain't Right," with Owens sounding as though he were making a bid to be a blues singer, and some rockabilly nonsense called "Rhythm and Booze." The biggest disappointment, though, is that the disc is slightly less than 20 minutes long, and since Masked Weasel does a poor job documenting each song's specific origin, it will be difficult for collectors to know exactly what they're getting for their money.

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