This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.
This is number twenty seven in the series of albums I’m featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my personal collection.
The series is called, “Cream of The Crate”, and they represent vinyl albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.
No matter who you are, if you are a collector of contemporary music or just a early Rock and Roll, there must be a place in your collection and your heart for Buddy Holly!
I actually have a few Buddy Holly albums in my collection but this one steps up because of the comprehensive list of tracks on it. Buddy Holly – A Rock and Roll Collection is variously identified as being released in 1972 and 1977, in fact it is a matter of which release version.
Although there are no release dates on the album or cover research reveals it was in fact a NZ pressing released in 1972.
It is a gate fold cover with two LP’s, and it has 21 tracks on it and was released on the MCA Label (MAPS 6140).
Charles Hardin Holley was born on September 7, 1936, Lubbock, Texas, to Lawrence Odell and Ella Pauline (Drake) Holley. His family always called Holly “Buddy”.
The story is told that he met up with Bob Montgomery in 1952 whilst attending Hutchinson Junior High. At 16 years of age and heavily influenced by ‘Bluegrass’ music, he discovered that he and Bob shared similar tastes and they teamed up as a duo, called Buddy and Bob.
Performing at local clubs and High School talent Shows, they experienced modest success, but when they performed on a local radio station KDAV Sunday broadcast that made them a top local act, for Buddy it was just another element that drove him passionately toward a full on musical career.
The story of Buddy Holly is so well known and so well documented.
He wrote his own material; used the recording studio for double tracking and other advanced techniques; popularised the two guitars, bass, and drums lineup; and recorded a catalog of songs that continue to be covered: “Not Fade Away” “Rave On,” “That’ll Be the Day,” as examples of the many.
His playful, mock-ingenuous singing, with slides between falsetto and regular voice and a trademark “hiccup,” has been a major influence on Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, the Stones, and numerous imitators.
And so it was that just over 60 years ago, on February 3, 1959, that the chartered plane carrying singers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, fell out of the sky and rock ‘n’ roll was forever changed.
Although his success lasted only a year and a half before his death, critic Bruce Eder described Buddy as “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.” His works and innovations were copied by his contemporaries and later musicians, and he exerted a profound influence on popular music.
Time to look at the tracks on this album!
1. Rave On
2. Tell Me How
3. Peggy Sue Got Married
4. Slipin’ And Slidin’
5. Oh Boy!
6. Not fade Away
1. Bo Diddley
2. What To Do
4. Well All Right
5. Words Of Love
6. Love’s Made A Fool Of You
2. Lonesome Tears
3. Listen To Me
4. Maybe Baby
5. Down The Line
6. That’ll Be The Day
2. Brown Eyed Handsome Man
3. You’re So Square
4. Crying, Waiting, Hoping
5. Ready Teddy
6. It Doesn’t matter Anymore
It is simply impossible to criticise the music!
We can consider the playing, the composition and the vocal delivery as being close to cutting edge for its time. Buddy Holly and the Crickets were the consummate performers. The Crickets original line-up consisted of drummer Jerry Allison, bassist Joe Mauldin, and rhythm guitarist Nikki Sullivan.
Yet when it comes to this album, there is one criticism I will make. It was produced in ‘Simulated Stereo’!
The original mono recordings have a unique sound, and to me it’s like colourising a movie or rebuilding the Sphinx to make it like new!
The mono sound of the Holly material is part of his sound and I wish they had left it alone!
Buddy was a one-man hit machine way before the music moguls thought of (trying to) create such creatures. His music is so alive even over 50 years later he delivers it in a fresh, exciting way that still captures the listeners ears today.
Is it any wonder that groups and artists raced to use his music. We can hear it with Bo Diddley who made very popular the ‘Diddley Beat‘ which is taken from Buddy and the Crickets. In terms of popularising Holly’s music to a new audience we can turn to the Rolling Stones, who did an excellent version of “Not Fade Away“
Not Fade Away
His delivery was immaculate and his voice is immediately recogniseable, especially because of that upward lilt that he was able to so easily get.
“Maybe Baby” is a most excellent example of this vocal feature.
He recorded a plethora of tracks, and what makes it hard to determine the exact number is that he released them under several names.
It is officially recorded that he wrote 40 tracks himself, not a bad effort for one who was only alive for such a short time. I
It is also interesting and somewhat surprising to note that only three albums were released while he was alive! These were:
The Chirping Crickets – 1957 – Brunswick 54038
Buddy Holly – 1958 – Coral 57210
That’ll Be The Day – 1958 – Decca 8707
He took the same care recording other peoples compositions as he did his own.
One that has always been a favourite with me is, “It Doesn’t matter Anymore“, written by songwriter and singer Paul Ankar.
There are some so called Holly aficionados who dismiss this element/styyle of Buddy Holly.
Yet there were so many sides to his creativity and his is a track that is typical of the ‘studio production’ side to his work. Yes that straight almost stripped down early Buddy and the Crickets music is wonderful.
Yet with It Doesn’t matter Anymore we have a full orchestral arrangement with dominant strings, and in fact, no Crickets.
It should never be dismissed as being mushy and overproduced pap. It is really a wonderful ‘love song’ quite unlike the saccharine sweet music that was beginning to dominate the airwaves at the end of the fifties, as the music producers tried to ’emasculate’ the growing Rock and Roll music.
It is a most beautifully composed and delivered track!
It Doesn’t Matter Anymore
But in case you think that Buddy wasn’t capable of delivering gutsy and pumpin’ R&R, just check out “Ready Teddy“
Buddy’s tragic death in itself was a tragedy of monumental proportions and he died all too soon.
He was the brightest rising star on the music horizon and it all seemed to be there for him ready to take.
His death has been told on screen, stage and, in Don McLean’s “American Pie“.
His last performance was at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on February 2, 1959. He couldn’t wait to get out of town and to the next gig and because inclement weather making the bus trip near impossible, he chartered a small airplane to take him to the next stop on the tour.
Holly, Richie Valens and ‘The Big Bopper (J.P Richardson) and the pilot Roger Rogerson were killed en route to Moorhead, Minnesota, when their plane crashed soon after taking off from nearby Mason City in the early morning hours of February 3.
There was a snowstorm and the pilot was not qualified to fly by instruments only.
Bandmate Waylon Jennings, had given up his seat on the plane, causing Holly to jokingly tell Jennings, “I hope your ol’ bus freezes up!” Jennings shot back facetiously, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes!” It was a statement that would haunt Jennings for decades.
No one even heard the crash!
The bodies lay in the blowing snow through the night…… February indeed made us shiver!
It was more than the cold of February that third day of the month in 1959. It was the shiver of a greater sometimes senseless reality invading our sheltered, partying, teenaged life of the 50’s.
And so, in many ways the music really did die!
Yet Buddy and his music will continue to live on forever in the hearts of the young and young at heart.
In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Holly #13 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included Holly among its first class in 1986.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame also inducted Holly in 1986, and said his contributions “changed the face of Rock ‘n’ Roll”.
In 1997, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences gave Holly the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Holly was inducted into the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2000
Very sadly, “virtually all of Holly’s masters were lost” in the 2008 Universal fire.
We are so fortunate that clips of major artists in the 1950’s still survive. In regard to Buddy Holly, here are three of the best!
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
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