Pop Life

Rotation: The Derailers, Under the Influence of Buck

The Derailers Under the Influence of Buck

Austin’s Derailers have never kept their love for the late Buck Owens a secret; in fact, the man himself dug their “Beatles-meets-Bakersfield” sound so much he asked them to be house band at his 70th birthday party. Thus the idea of a tribute record may seem obvious, but the end result suffers from the departure of former co-frontman Tony Villanueva, who found Jesus and left the band in 2003. Fellow singer/guitarist Brian Hofeldt admirably took up the reins, and last year’s surprisingly solid Soldiers of Love reflected his poppier POV. Unfortunately, Buck cries out for Villanueva’s deep, twangy, very Owensian voice. The Derailers’ take on most tracks (“Together Again,” “Sam’s Place,” “Down on the Corner of Love”) are simply adequate, and the “Johnny B. Goode” cover of “Johnny B. Goode” is completely unnecessary. However, the peppy “Foolin’ Around,” heartfelt and sincere “Big in Vegas” and buoyant “Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass”stand out, Chris Schlotzhauer’s pedal steel licks are sweet throughout and the disc might well introduce Owens’ music to people who only knew him from Hee Haw’s cornfield. Nonetheless, the album screams “WWTD (What Would Tony Do?)” to longtime fans. Well-intentioned as it may be, it’s a mere curio in the Derailers’ discography. – Bob Ruggiero

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero