Buzz Cason is one of those music guys who's been around forever and has an almost impossibly cool resume, spanning several decades spent at the center of various country and pop scenes. As a Nashville teen in the late 1950s, he formed a teenpop/rock band called the Casuals, which released a couple of singles and got the band noticed by Nashville's studio producers. Using the pseudonym "Garry Miles," Cason took a fling at solo stardom, scoring a Top 20 hit in 1960, and was also the voice of Alvin of the Alvin & The Chipmunks novelty act(!) Eventually he settled into a more laid-back role as a studio musician and backup singer, working with numerous pop and country stars, and found even greater success as a songwriter, penning hits such as "Everlasting Love" and a string of country singles throughout the '70s and '80s. Cason worked with several studio insiders, notably Mac Gayden and Leon Russell and songwriter Bobby Russell, and also found success as a studio producer and music publisher -- pretty much everything you can think of in the music biz... Plus, he's found time to record himself from time to time! Here's a quick look at his work...
Buzz Cason "Buzz" (DJM, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Buzz Cason, Todd Cerney & Brent Maher)
This is a very odd, kind of embarassing album, a Nashville fling at various 'Seventies pop styles -- disco, power-pop, aggressively pretentious AOR and hyperactive, super-dorky geek rock glam, replete with tinny harmonies and falsetto vocals. It's a very try-it-all, see-what-sticks kind of outing, with Cason's country roots pretty firmly hidden in the weeds. Oh sure, he's got Doyle Grisham playing steel on the opening track, "Stage Fright," and folks like Janie Frickie and Billy Swan are in the background as studio musicians, but overall this is a pretty cringeworthy pop outing. One big exeption is Cason's charming homage to the queen of country-rock, "Emmylou," which was also covered by the Oak Ridge Boys -- I like their version better, but it's nice to have this one for comparison. If you're a really big fan of '70s pop kitsch, you might get into this album, but for your average twangfan, I'd have to say pass on this one.
Buzz Cason "Living The Rock'N'Roll Dream" (EP)
Buzz Cason "East Of Nashville" (Arena, 2000)
Buzz Cason & The Dartz "Rhythm Bound On An American Saturday Night" (Yellow Label, 2007)
Buzz Cason "Hats Off To Hank" (Palo Duro, 2007)
(Produced by Buzz Cason & Parker Cason)
A rambling, discursive, roots-rock set from craggy-voiced veteran songwriter Buzz Cason, a Nashville old-timer who formed one of Music City's first rock bands, back in the 1950s and has been plugging away ever since. This album echoes the weather-worn, stream-of-consciousness style of JJ Cale or maybe even someone more crotchety, like Jim Dickinson, with a dose of geezerly discontent and anger fueling some of the songs. These aren't pop songs, or even conventional-sounding country or blues -- they ramble and detour all over the map, and I'll be danged if I can really tell you what half of them are about. Personally, I'd go for a little pruning down and editorial control, but folks who like weird, swampy, unusual stuff might get a kick out of this... File it along with Swamp Dogg, Hasil Adkins, Chip Taylor and Guy Clark. Not bad company, depending on your taste!
Buzz Cason "Busload Of Love" (Palo Duro, 2009)
(Produced by Buzz Cason & Joe Funderburk)
Cason works in a wide variety of styles and has the sound and enthusiasm of a much younger man on this earnest, eclectic outing... There's some chunky, semi-acoustic twang, a hint of rockabilly, a deliberate homage to Dylan (where he even asks Dylan not to sue him for plagiarism) and a few almost-power poppish tunes, with lyrics that range from playful and silly to world-wise but not overly rueful reflections on life. This rambling, uneven set isn't for everyone, but there are some gems... For the country-riented among us, his tribute to Porter Wagoner ("Porter's Gone Home") is a highlight, along with "She Falls For Singers" as well as "Song Man," which reflects on his own experience and namechecks a bunch of folks such as Willie and Guy Clark. A nice, personal album from an old-timer who's really earned the right to the old-man attitude so many country singers try to take on in their youth...
Buzz Cason "Working Without A Net" (Arena, 2010)
Buzz Cason "Surf And Turf" (Arena, 2012)
Hick Music Index