Omnivore's 2013 double-disc set Buck Em! The Music of Buck Owens (1955-1967) provides an interesting spin on Buck Owens: through a collection of mono singles, live tracks, alternate takes, early 45s, and other rarities, it tells an alternate history of Buck's prime years. If there's a hit on this 50-track collection, it's almost always in a version that's slightly different than what usually shows up on a standard greatest-hits. "Second Fiddle," "Love's Gonna Live Here," "I Don't Care (Just as Long as You Love Me)," "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail," and "Before You Go" are all in mono, there's an early version of "Ain't It Amazing Gracie," and "Act Naturally" is live, so they're familiar enough to not feel jarring and they do provide the core of a collection that winds up wandering into some pretty interesting territory.
Two years after the first installment comes Buck 'Em!: The Music of Buck Owens, Vol. 2, a double-disc set chronicling the eight years when Buck Owens was a crossover superstar thanks to his prominent role as a co-host of Hee Haw. Buck started to slide into a rut toward the end of this run – a process accelerated by the tragic death of his right-hand man Don Rich in 1974, a loss from which Owens never fully recovered – but producer Patrick Milligan slyly disguises this trend by nestling deep cuts, live tracks, and outtakes among the best of his hits, thereby painting a portrait of Buck Owens as a musician nearly as adventurous as he was during the purple patch of the '50s and early '60s.
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