I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail
This 1965 album was a #1 country hit, but it also hit #43 on the pop charts and was named Billboard’s Country Album of the Year. Owens’ exuberant, hiccupping vocals are perfectly backed by the sharp, stinging guitars of the Buckaroos, particularly Don Rich’s Fender Telecaster and Tom Brumley’s pedal steel. The title track, “Trouble and Me,” and “Wham Bam” (sung by Don Rich) are uptempo romps, despite their lovelorn lyrics, while “Let the Sad Times Roll On” and “Cryin’ Time” are classic barroom weepers. The album concludes with two covers, one more surprising than the other. Fiddler and bandleader Bob Wills’ arrangement of “Maiden’s Prayer,” by 19th century Polish composer Tekla Badarzewska-Baranowska, is a Western swing classic, and the Buckaroos do a creditable version, but the album-closing version of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis” is a real bolt of lightning, emphasizing the links between the Bakersfield honky-tonk sound and rock ’n’ roll.