Six CDs that cover the "Bakersfield Sound"?
September 5, 2019 8:45 PM   Subscribe

My old car has a six-disc changer and I'm driving to Bakersfield. What six CDs can I reasonably easily find that will introduce me to the Bakersfield Sound? I'm a Jazz guy; the last 'country' album I bought was Terry Allen's Lubbock (On Everything). I've gathered some names but I want album recommendations. Thank you!
posted by niicholas to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
* not the new box-set, it's a little steep - I'm picturing I'll run down to Amoeba and hit the used bins.
posted by niicholas at 8:50 PM on September 5, 2019

I think country, especially pre-1970s country, is a good singles genre (where jazz is much more an albums genre). So I'd be looking for compilations; Buck Owens 21 #1 Hits: The Ultimate Collection, The Very Best of Dwight Yoakam if you're not going to be a purist about the original Bakersfield Sound, and the like for other artists.

Given the presence of the Crystal Palace, you might want to hit Bakersfield with two Bucks; maybe add the Carnegie Hall Live concert?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:04 PM on September 5, 2019 [8 favorites]

Is this what Steely Dan is?
posted by tristeza at 9:30 PM on September 5, 2019

You need to put some Dwight Yoakam in it
posted by wats at 10:16 PM on September 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

If you're looking for used stuff at Amoeba, there's no guarantee any specific thing will be there, but the SF store has an awesome country section (and I know there are at least couple people there you could ask for recommendations, if they're working when you stop by). I don't know later stuff, but I can recommend a few things from the 60s-70s.

Definitely get Buck Owens & The Buckaroos. I would recommend buying any of these albums if you see them:
Buck Owens Sings Harlan Howard
I Don't Care
Together Again
I've Got a Tiger by the Tail
The Instrumental Hits of Buck Owens and His Buckaroos
Tall Dark Stranger
There may be some good greatest hits compilations, too; some good ones from the 60s, and there's been about a million since then.

Also definitely get Merle Haggard. Album-wise, I'd say some of the more representative ones are:
Branded Man
Mama Tried
Swinging Doors
I'm a Lonesome Fugitive
Pride in What I Am
Okie From Muskogee (live album)
The Fightin' Side of Me (live album)

See if they have any Red Simpson. Essential Bakersfield trucker country! A greatest hits album would be good, like The Capitol Years. There's also Roll Truck Roll, which is one of my all-time favorite albums, but there's other good ones like A Bakersfield Dozen and The Man Behind the Badge. I'd buy any of these if they were there.

Also not one of the most successful artists, but I think Liz Anderson is an essential, if Amoeba has anything by her. She was more successful as a songwriter, but she wrote some pretty famous songs for pretty famous people (most notably Merle Haggard's hit "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers." An early greatest hits album would be great, but also the album (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers or Liz Anderson Sings. If you see a copy of Cookin' Up Hits, you should buy it for the cover alone.

Oh also, check the compilations -- there may be some Bakersfield-specific comps in stock (I have a great one called Bakersfield Rebels, but since that's a collection of obscurities, I don't know if it's necessarily representative. Good comp, though!).

I'm sure there's other obvious stuff I'm forgetting, but that's a few suggestions anyway.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:48 PM on September 5, 2019 [15 favorites]

Is this what Steely Dan is?

posted by thelonius at 3:03 AM on September 6, 2019 [9 favorites]

The Rolling Stones "Far Away Eyes" is in this style and specifically name drops Bakersfield in the lyrics. I know, it does not exactly work as you are looking for full CDs, but I just wanted to note this for the sake of completeness.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:41 AM on September 6, 2019

I'm a Jazz guy
One of your six CDs should definitely be a Jimmy Bryant/Speedy West compilation.
posted by neroli at 5:46 AM on September 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Allmusic has lots of descriptions of various genres, along with key albums, artists, etc. I like browsing through them to learn about different genres and sub-genres. Their entry on the Bakersfield Sound looks useful.
posted by aka burlap at 5:57 AM on September 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

I feel like this is a good thread to share this video for Dwight Yoakum and Buck Owens doing "Streets of Bakersfield", in case folks want a quick primer in what this sound IS.
posted by uberchet at 6:28 AM on September 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Heather Myles!
Highways and Honky Tonks or Rum & Rodeo are great.
posted by exceptinsects at 9:51 AM on September 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

This 10-CD Bear Family box set is a little more than you're looking for, but maybe you could just bring discs 5-10.
posted by box at 9:52 AM on September 6, 2019

You should get some Dale Watson in there.

Honkiest Tonkiest Beer Joint
Country My Ass
I Lie When I Drink
posted by Lexica at 10:48 AM on September 6, 2019

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