' signature Bakersfield sound wasn’t fully formed when he recorded for the independent Pep, Chesterfield, and La Brea labels between 1953 and 1956 before signing with Capitol Records early in 1957. For one, his early recordings didn’t have the gifted Don Rich
on guitar yet, and Owens
' songwriting skills, although far from amateur, hadn’t quite reached the wonderful country-pop blend he championed later in the 1950s and through the 1960s. But his early recordings are hardly throwaways, as this 24-track compilation of them makes clear. His voice is strong and versatile here, and songs like “Right After the Dance” and “It Don’t Show on Me” are really only different than Owens
' later material by lacking Rich
's guitar playing, an undeniably key factor in Owens
' famous and mature Bakersfield sound.