Let it be known that even though country musician Buck Owens was a stern taskmaster, he was perceptive enough to realize that his backing band The Buckaroos had enough talent to stand on their own without him, and he was always more than willing to give talented members a chance to spotlight on his albums, in his shows, and on their own solo records. Pedal steel player Tom Brumley was one of the band’s secret weapons, and his talents have been recognized on a new compilation, Steelin’ The Show.
Brumley, the son of legendary Gospel songwriter Albert Brumley, joined The Buckaroos in 1963 as a last minute replacement, and he would remain a centerpiece of the band throughout the decade. Almost from the first, Owens recognized the greatness in front of him and did not hesitate to highlight his new guitarist. His first major solo came on the song ”Together Again,” one that Owens considered to be one of the best representations of pedal steel guitar, and the weepy, tear-in-your-beer sound of the instrument is known for is in full force here. It’s easy to understand why Owens loved this song; Brumley simply shines, giving the song all of the emotional heft it needed.
The other sixteen songs on Steelin’ The Show don’t pack the same emotional heft, but they do demonstrate the guitarist’s range and the band’s versatility. These original compositions could best be described as whimsical, and one would expect no less from songs entitled “Apple Jack,” “Steel Guitar Polka,” “Tom Cattin’” and “Pedal Patter.” On the handful of waltzes found here, he does slow it down a bit and offers some romantic Country slow dance numbers, most notably on “The Waltz Of The Roses.” Although many of the songs found here fall under the two minute mark, they are impactful enough to never feel skimpy.
Brumley would leave the band in 1969, just as Hee-Haw was becoming successful and making the Buckaroos a very demanding commitment. He would remain in the music business, most notably working with Ricky Nelson, and would become a notable session musician for both rock and country artists, passing away quietly in 2009. Steelin’ The Show is a delightful collection highlighting the impressive talent of a relatively unknown country music voice.