December 18, 1989 12:00 PM

Buck Owens

The old Buckaroo has been working hard to live down his buffoonish Hee Haw image, first with last year’s duet with Dwight Yoakam on “The Streets of Bakersfield,” now on this not-too-shabby-for-an-old-duffer album.

Owens sounds like his own twangy self on such new tunes as “Out There Chasing Rainbows” and “I Was There,” but the smartest thing BO did for this project was in selecting the hired help. One duet is sung with Ringo Starr—”Act Naturally,” the Johnny Russell—Vonie Morrison song that was a hit for Owens himself in 1963 and the Beatles in 1965; Ringo and Buck may not exactly be soul mates, but their playful, loose-larynxed approaches to vocalizing are remarkably similar, and they give the tune a maximum entertainment value.

On the sublime side, Owens joins Emmylou Harris for a poignant version of “Crying Time,” a 1965 song associated with Ray Charles but written by Owens long before he became a TV star. Thus does it appear that Owens is getting in a final word with those of us who wrote him off, as in he who hee-haws last…(Capitol)

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