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The Derailers


As low-cost, surefire panaceas go, it's hard to beat a Buck Owens record. That Bakersfield twang, the sunny, upbeat melodies, and those twin vocal harmonies of Buck and his brother by a different mother, Don Rich. It's potent stuff. If you're feeling low, a quick spin of a song like "I've Got A Tiger By The Tail" or "Together Again," will leave you smilin' like a goat in a briar patch.

Yet for all the incredible music Buck left us, when he passed away in March 2006 there was a noticeable lack of encomiums from the world of country music, beyond a few obligatory newspaper and magazine articles. A year and a half later, the Derailers mean to set things right, giving us a loving, authentic tribute worthy of the old Buckaroo himself.

The Austin quintet (now minus founding member Tony Villanueva) has a long history with the man born Alvis Edgar Owens. It was the lean, mean Bakersfield country sound that was a key inspiration for the band when they formed in the early '90s. And in 1995, after playing for Buck at a birthday bash in his honor, they became friends and regular performers at Buck's night club, the Crystal Palace.

For Under The Influence, the Derailers lean heavily on Buck's signature tunes such as "Love's Gonna Live Here," "Foolin' Around," "Together Again", "Sam's Place," and "Before You Go," while dusting off a few lesser known numbers such as the waltz-time "Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass" and the melancholic "Big In Vegas." Throughout, they honor the original arrangements, copping the tight vocal harmonies (Brian Hofeldt imitates Buck without sounding self-conscious), the signature Telecaster twang and the honky-tonk shuffle beat.

A well-known couplet of Buck's sums this disc up nicely: "Things are gonna be the way they were before / Love's gonna live here again."

Three cheers for the Derailers for bringing back the Buckaroo sound. • Bill DeMain

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see our 2003 review of Genuine by The Derailers

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