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Omnivore Recordings

Omnivore Recordings will release two new albums from Buck Owens and Don Rich in January 2013.

Bakersfield's Buck Owens and Don Rich are no longer with us but we'll be hearing new songs from both in 2013.

Omnivore Recordings on Jan. 23 will release two previously unreleased albums:

* "Honky Tonk Man," a collection of songs Owens recorded while co-hosting the TV series "Hee Haw."

* .

Of the 18-song Owens' CD, Omnivore said:

"Over the course of this collection, pulled from the vast trove of material Buck recorded for 'Hee Haw,' Owens provides us with a concise tutorial on the history of country music--from 'In the Jailhouse Now,' a song first popularized by Jimmie Rodgers in 1928--to 'Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer,' a hit for Johnny Russell in 1973.

"Many of the songs Buck recorded for 'Hee Haw' were originally recorded by some of Buck's biggest and earliest influences. 'Stay a Little Longer' had been a hit for Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys. 'My Bucket's Got A Hole In It,' 'Jambalaya,' and 'Hey, Good Lookin' ' were all Hank Williams staples. Other early favorites of Buck's were Jack Guthrie's 'Oklahoma Hills' and Hank Snow's 'I'm Moving On.' "

"Also included is 'Swinging Doors,' a song written and first popularized by fellow Bakersfield Sound stalwart Merle Haggard."

Rich was best known as Owens' longtime guitarist until dying in a 1974 motorcycle accident. But the guitarist's skills as a vocalist in the Buckaroos led to the recording of "Don Rich Sings George Jones," whose songs Omnivore said "sat in Buck's tape vault -- unreleased and long forgotten -- until now."

Omnivore shares some of the back story leading to Rich's solo shot:

"By 1970, several of the tracks featuring Don's vocals had become charting singles, making a solo album by Don Rich pretty much a foregone conclusion.

"Buck approached Don about recording a solo album of his own. Fellow Buckaroo, Jim Shaw remembers, 'He just went to Don and said, "Why don't you do an album of George Jones covers?" I suspect Buck thought, "Well, that's a good commercial way to go. George Jones has a huge pile of hits to choose from." '

"The question, then, isn't, why George Jones songs? The real question is, why did the album languish unreleased in the tape vault for over 40 years? Since Don and Buck are both gone, there's no one left to provide the answer.

"Maybe Don's album was simply forgotten. As Jim Shaw points out, it's not like Don would've bothered to remind anybody: 'Don didn't have a lot of ambition to be a solo artist. He just wanted to read his books about military airplanes and ride his motorcycle.' "