Buck Owens - A Merry "Hee Haw" Christmas From Buck Owens and the Buckaroos
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A Merry "Hee Haw" Christmas From Buck Owens and the Buckaroos (Omnivore, 2020)

Buck Owens

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Calling Buck Owens' holiday album "A Merry "Hee Haw" Christmas" may have made commercial sense at the time because many did (and still do) associate the Bakersfield country star with that corny TV show. Those of us that love Owens' music, though, know there was so much more to the man's music than his association with the hillbilly Laugh-in. That complaint aside, though, this album is jam-packed with wonderful, vintage Buck Owens sounds.

What may be most noteworthy about this selection of songs, is how so few of them are familiar ones. Yes, Owens performs "Jingle Bells" and "Christmas Time's A Comin'," but outside of these popular seasonal songs, everything else is either original or at least rare. Some are better than others, of course. Do really need an instrumental titled "The Jolly Christmas Polka"? Then again, that is the great Don Rich playing those rapid electric guitar notes, so even the lesser tracks are worth a listen. Better, though, is "All I Want For Christmas Is My Daddy." It's a somber country tune, and Owens could really sing a sad song. Another tearjerker is "It's Christmas Time For Everyone But Me," which expresses the pain of the lonely and out of love during the holidays. Much like Merle Haggard with "If We Make It Through December," Owens knew how this supposedly happiest time of the year could be extremely sad for some.

"Here Comes Santa Clause Again" is basically a rewrite of "Santa Clause is Comin' to Town." However, its clip-clopping rhythm, steel guitar underpinning and spikey lead guitar parts – all earmarks of Owens' Bakersfield sound – will bring joys of recognition to all Buck lovers. In other words, this release does Christmas music the Buck Owens And The Buckeroos way.

CDs by Buck Owens

Country Singer's Prayer, 2018 Bound for Bakersfield: 1953-1956 The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection, 2011

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