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Release Info: The Derailers: Under the Influence of Buck (2007)
The Derailers cut their musical teeth on the rough but sweet Bakersfield honky tonk sound that Buck Owens made his trademark, and they even had the pleasure of sharing stages with Owens during the twilight of his career, so if anyone ought to pay homage to Buck's great music, it's this band. On 2007's Under the Influence of Buck, the latest lineup of the Derailers records 12 songs Owens either wrote or co-wrote, and one that he covered both in the studio and on-stage (Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode"), and while Brian Hofeldt and company don't stray terribly far from the sound or approach of the originals on these sessions, the group manages to bring enough of its own spirit and enthusiasm to the tunes to prevent these recordings from coming off as rote sound-alikes. Hofeldt's vocals recreate the loping twang of Owens' trademark delivery, but there's a keen passion to his performances that's impressive on weepers like "Cryin' Time" as well as uptempo numbers like "Sam's Place," and the interplay between Hofeldt's six string and Chris Schlotzhauer's pedal steel gives the melodies a sound that's a bit different from Don Rich's tasty Telecaster picking on the originals. And while the choice of material on Under the Influence of Buck may not seem especially challenging (given that they were all hits for the same guy), a quick spin confirms that Owens was a great country & western songwriter, he could share the joys and sorrows of honky tonk life with intelligence and clarity, and the Derailers more than do right by his fine tunes. While Under the Influence of Buck is no substitute for a good Buck Owens collection (try Rhino's 21 #1 Hits: The Ultimate Collection), anyone who likes either Buck or the Derailers will get a kick out of this disc, a tribute offered with love and showing a real understanding of what made this music memorable in the first place.
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