Dwight Yoakam live at the Palais
Photo by Carol Taylor
Kentucky born, Californian singing actor Dwight Yoakam is well qualified as one of several artists recording Buck Owens tribute discs.

Yoakam, 51, sang at the funeral of Owens who died at 76 in March, 2006, and revived the late singer's career with a duet on #1 hit Streets Of Bakersfield in 1987.

That chart success landed the multi-millionaire Texas born star new record deals and a brace of exposure for his famed Bakersfield honky tonk The Crystal Palace.

And, of course, Yoakam spent most his career ploughing the rich Bakersfield sound created by Owens and Wynn Stewart as an alternative to the Nashville formula.

So why is this about Yoakam and not Jann Browne and Austin based Derailers who also released acclaimed Owens' tribute discs?

Sadly Browne's Buckin' Around and Under The Influence of Buck by The Derailers, who played Owens 70th birthday party at his club, haven't been unleashed here.

So this is an aural pleasure - especially for Owens' fans who enjoyed original versions here at his 1974 Festival Hall concert.

Yoakam struts his stuff effortlessly on 15 tunes dating back to 1956 hit Down On The Corner Of Love and Under Your Spell Again and Harlan Howard curio Above And Beyond - both from 1959.

Not surprisingly the peaks include laid-back cut of Red Simpson's oft-covered Close Up The Honky Tonks and late Johnny Russell's royalty-spinning smash Act Naturally.

That was one of Owens' great talents - blending outside material that challenged rock music of the day and originals from his deep catalogue.

Yoakam, like mentor Buck, is the master of mood swings from the optimistic bounce of Under Your Spell Again and melancholic Your Tender Loving Care to the ache of Cryin' Time.

Song sequencing is not bad either - the disc bookends are rollicking My Heart Skips A Beat and funereal finale Together Again.

So how will this go here in the unlucky radio country?

Well, the Close Up The Honky Tonks video, directed by Limp Bizkit Fred Durst, might ascend from CMC and Nu Country TV to Rage.

Yoakam uses the same band as his Oz tour but it's not the same soundman so vocals are front and centre and guitars, drums, sitar, piano and pedal steel enjoy a sweet divorce in the mix.

Buy this before Porter Wagoner tribute discs flood the market.

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