Close Up The Honky Tonks
Release date: April 16, 2011
Close Up The Honky Tonks (Early Version) / My Heart Skips A Beat (Early Version)
Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr., was born in 1929 and by the age of four had declared his new name as “Buck”—after the family mule. This steadfast nature would follow Buck as he became a pioneer, a superstar and a legend.
1963’s “Act Naturally” was Buck’s first of 21 number one singles—many of which were recorded with his band, The Buckaroos. In a time when Country & Western had lost the “Country,” Buck brought it back in—stripped down and with honky-tonk rhythms that resonated with the world. Releasing over 30 albums with Capitol Records (including twelve #1 hits), his success allowed him to ultimately gain control of most of his recorded output. He also purchased a number of radio stations in and around his adopted home of Bakersfield, California.
After Buck acquired all of his masters from Capitol Records, most everything he recorded for the label found its way back into the marketplace in one form or another. Everything, that is, except this January 28, 1964, take of “Close Up The Honky Tonks.”
Recorded at the same sessions as his double-sided, #1 single “My Heart Skips A Beat” / “Together Again,” the Omnivore version of “Close Up The Honky Tonks” was recently discovered, buried on a multi-track reel—thought to be lost for years. It’s in a different key than the released version (recorded five months later), and whether this was an abandoned take (it does not feature Buck’s trademark, overdubbed harmonies) remains unclear. What is clear is that it is a fascinating peek into the evolution of The Buckaroos and a classic song. Although never issued as a single, “Close Up The Honky Tonks” became a fan favorite and has been covered by artists including Dwight Yoakam, The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers.
The flip features “My Heart Skips A Beat,” recorded during the “Act Naturally” sessions in 1963. Very much in the “old” Buck Owens vein, this early performance carries elements—like fiddle and the honky-tonk shuffle—that Buck would eventually move away from. The track was finished and apparently readied for release, but the song was buried until the tune was re-cut almost a year later (it is possible that the success of the newer sound of “Act Naturally” was the reason for shelving the original version). While this version appeared on the Bear Family box in 2008, it has never been released in mono on a 45.
The 45 sold out immediately, but you can still get both tracks as a Digital Single.
Close Up The Honky Tonks(Early Version) My Heart Skips A Beat(Early Version)