Don Rich didn't release records under his own name. He led the Buckaroos, Buck Owens' stellar supporting band, giving Owens an expert collaborator, colleague, and musical foil. Owens is quoted in the liner notes to Sundazed's stellar Country Pickin': The Don Rich Anthology: "I think my musical life ended when his did," he says, referring to his distinct lack of interest in music following Rich's tragic death in a motorcycle accident in 1974. He may very well be right, since this collection proves that Rich pushed Owens to great heights, and was a magnificent guitarist and fine vocalist in his own right. Owens occasionally gave Rich a song to sing on his albums, plus the Buckaroos released their own records. This 24-track collection draws from these songs and, while there are no revelations, per se -- if you know Buck Owens' music, you know what you're going to get -- it's still a pleasant, mild shock to discover these collected as a piece, since Rich's talents as a guitarist not only shine forth, but he sounds as if he could have had hits on his own accord with his warm, friendly voice. True, the songs, apart from the theme song "Buckaroo," aren't as good as Owens' hits of the '60s, but they're solid, respectable songs, delivered handsomely by Don Rich & the Buckaroos. So, Country Pickin' might not be a lost classic, but it's fine listening and an appropriate, loving testament to one of the finest guitarists and musicians of his time.
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