If you've enjoyed the Omnivore country reissues we have featured recently, you're in for another treat. These two albums, released in tandem, are both instrumentals, but are played in somewhat different styles. The Buckaroos Play Buck & Merle is a combination of two old records - the 1965 LP The Buck Owens Songbook and 1971’s The Songs of Merle Haggard. It features a full, straight-up rendition of both albums - with no vocals. From the Omnivore release:
The Buck Owens Songbook was released in 1965 and gave fans a chance to sing along with their favorite Buck hits with The Buckaroos as their backing group — lyrics provided. Six years and ten albums later, the band paid tribute on their last LP to the man who named them: The Songs of Merle Haggard appeared in 1971, and featured The Buckaroos’ instrumental take on classics like “Mama Tried” and “Okie From Muskogee.” That LP, unfortunately, didn’t come with a lyric booklet like its predecessor.
While “Orange Blossom Special” was a live staple at a Buckaroos show, Don’s fiddle carried through to many of Buck’s studio releases, too. In 1971, ten tracks were compiled from a number of Buck Owens & The Buckaroos albums and released as That Fiddlin’ Man. The album was an instant hit with fans. Sadly, on his way to becoming Bakersfield’s next big country star, Rich was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1974.
Out of print for decades, That Fiddlin’ Man will be reissued for the first time ever on compact disc. Omnivore has added ten additional instrumental tracks from the Owens catalog that showcase The Buckaroos, Don Rich and his fiddle. That amounts to 20 tracks of prime Buckaroos — taken from 13 different albums recorded between 1963 and 1970.
Both will be released by Omnivore on July 23, shortly after local heroes Buck Owens and Merle Haggard are awarded honorary degrees from Cal State Bakersfield.
Omnivore Recordings - Don Rich
Omnivore Recordings - The Buckaroos