It’s always pays to err on the side of caution when approaching a tribute album, but Buddy Holly frequented my record player as a youth and resides still, in my heart and playlists. This, combined with the all star cast including The Black Keys, Fiona Apple, John Brion, Lou Reed and Patti Smith – interest was piqued, for sure.
Buddy Holly, cited as one of the most influential musicians of all time, crashed to Martyrdom after a year and a half of be-speckled success. He set the rock and roll standard – two guitars, lead vocals, bass and drums. The Beatles mimicked his vocal style and chose their name in reference to Holly’s ‘crickets.’ Elton John’s famed four eyes developed in homage to Buddy’s iconic frames. He was one of the first musicians to bridge the racial split which divided American music and was in the first group to be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The album is a mixed bag of straight covers and reinventions, a mix of good and average and a little too long, with 19 high profile contributions. My stand out numbers are undoubtedly biased. I’ve never heard anything by Fiona Apple that I haven’t fallen for. Everyday, a duet with John Brion is no exception. Simple and barely a side step from the original, relying totally on Apple’s sweet as pie vocals. It’s delicate and convincing – a winner.
Florence and The Machine’s sexy, soulful, big, brassed and broody version of not fade away undoubtedly deserves mention, Flo tells us how it’s gonna be, dark, innocent, haunted. She reminds us that a legacy like Holly’s will not fade. A fantastic reinvention. The ladies certainly stand out on the album, giving something a little more to the songs. Patti Smith, sounding sometimes so much like Marianne Faithfull sings a soppy, ethereal Words Of Love. Her vocals are great, but i’m unsure about the band. They’re a bit bland.
My Morning Jacket play a wonderful True Love Ways – all strings and heartbreak, it’s spot on, I like it better than any of their own songs. Modest Mouse twist That’ll be the day in to their own song successfully and how I wish I could say the same thing for Lou Reed’s Peggy Sue. It tries hard. Really hard. Unsurprisingly ex-hollies Grahame Nash gets a look in, making raining in my heart sound like a track from a bad musical. Also unsurprising is an epic track by Paul McCartney, who owns the rights to Holly’s music and sets one to wondering how much Sir Paul pocketed from this endeavour. His ode it’s so easy is catchy but over the top, too long and a trifle annoying.
Rave On Buddy Holly, involves such a diverse range of musicians and approaches and caters for a huge audience, a clever success.