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Bakersfield Sound



Brother Duets

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The Bakersfield Sound

The Bakersfield sound was a reaction to the early '60s sweetening of country epitomized by the Nashville Sound. Bakersfield music was, by comparison, rawer, twangier and rocked more than just a little.

The Bakersfield Californian has an excellent on-line feature on the Bakersfield Sound. Check it out!

Cover-Very Best of Buck Owens, Vol 1.

Buck Owens
Very Best of Buck Owens,
Volume 1

Sure it was a formula, but what a formula! Buck and the Buckaroos ruled the country charts in the early to mid-'60s with an electric, rockabilly-influenced freight train sound that featured the tight vocal harmonies and smoking Telecaster playing of Don Rich. Buck's songs, and others written to order, are also classic, and not as dark as most classic country songs.

Further Listening: Those on a budget should plan on picking up the Very Best of Buck Owens, Vol. 2. If you have the bucks, skip them both and go for Rhino's 3-CD box, which has all of these and more, and is the most beautifully packaged box set I've ever seen.

Cover-The Lonesome Fugitive

Merle Haggard
The Lonesome Fugitive (2 CDs)

I really wrestled with this selection. You can live with this as an introduction, but you eventually should be familiar with the music on the 4-CD Capitol box Down Every Road. Even that doesn't do justice to someone who, in addition to being a great singer and bandleader and a pretty damn good guitar player, is among the most sophisticated and original songwriters in American music.

That said, there's nothing here that isn't totally amazing, including the stunning playing of Merle's band, the Strangers. If all you know is Okie From Muskogee, prepare to have your eyes opened.

Cover-America's Most Colorful Hillbilly Band

Maddox Brothers and Rose
America's Most Colorful
Hillbilly Band, Vol. 1

Rose Maddox gets my vote for coolest girl singer ever, any genre. This collection is filled with raw hillbilly energy, maniacal laughter, wacky asides from all the brothers, and Rose's foghorn of a voice. The Maddox Brothers and Rose began playing a radio show in California in the late 1940s when Rose was only 11 years old, and Rose was a professional entertainer until her death in 1998. Their sound was clearly an influence on the later Bakersfield sound, as well as rockabilly.

Cover-Best of Red Simpson

Red Simpson
Country Western Truck Drivin' Singer (Best of)

If you've ever driven the highways of America after midnight with only an AM radio to keep you awake, you probably know Red Simpson. This is the classic trucking music, with Red's great songs and playing courtesy of the Bakersfield guys. This guy must be Junior Brown's biggest influence--the original Highway Patrol is here and JB just basically covered it.

Cover-The Very Best of Wynn Stewart 1958-62

Wynn Stewart
The Very Best of Wynn Stewart 1958-62

Stewart was probably the best of all the Bakersfield singers, and his band was populated by nearly every prominent star of the Bakersfield establishment, including Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, steel player Ralph Mooney (later with Waylon Jennings), and guitarist Roy Nichols (later with Merle Haggard). This album replaces the slightly better but out of print California Country: The Best of the Challenge Masters.

Link: Here's the official Wynn Stewart Website.


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