Don Rich / The Buckaroos

That Fiddlin' Man

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During the great Buck Owens gold rush of the late '60s and early '70s, there was a flood of Buck-related albums from his son Buddy Alan, from his backing band the Buckaroos, and from Don Rich, his bandleader and right-hand man. Rich appeared on the Buckaroos LPs and cut a record where he sang lead but that was shelved (Omnivore resurrected it in 2013 as Don Rich Sings George Jones), but what did come out in 1971 was That Fiddlin' Man, a ten-track collection of fiddle-led instrumentals he cut with the Buckaroos. Most of these are bluegrass breakdowns and spruced-up tunes that flirt with old-timey traditions. These songs don't have a purist sensibility -- some of this mixes up country, folk, and West Coast showbiz, creating the kind of music that would indeed sound comfortable on a televised variety show -- yet this music is hardly as modern as what Buck Owens was making at the same time, partially due to the lack of electric spark and hard-driving rhythms. Throughout it all, the Buckaroos are consummate professionals and Rich is in fine form on the fiddle, but That Fiddlin' Man is not much more than pleasant. That said, the ten tracks added to Omnivore's long-overdue 2013 reissue of the LP are all taken from various Buck Owens albums cut between 1963-1970 and they're better than the album proper: lively, varied, and spirited, nice casual showcases for the skills of everybody in the Buckaroos.

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