Rave on Buddy Holly
In some respects, Rave On Buddy Holly is a standard tribute album: it salutes a legend by rounding up classic rockers and hipsters to cover his canon, a practice that has been in place for nearly a quarter-century. In another regard, Rave On Buddy Holly is quite different. Encouraged by producer Randall Poster, the 19/a>/i>/i>
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Buddy Holly would have been 75 years old this year, had he not die in a 1959 airplane crash, which also claimed the lives of Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. Lucky for us, the 22-year-old Holly left us with a lot of great, original music, which always manages to find its way to another generation of music lovers. Fantasy Records has just come out with a charming collection of Buddy Holly songs performed by other artists. While "Rave On Buddy Holly" is not the perfect collection one would hope it to be, one will be surprised as to who's covering these songs. The disc starts off with The Black Keys covering "Dearest", a Holly outtake that eventually found its way to the soundtrack of "Juno". When The Black Keys do this song, they turn it into a quietly soulful garage tune. Cee Lo Green appears here as well turning "You're So Square (Baby, I Don't Care)" into an amazingly bright Carribean tune. But when Lou Reed sings "Peggy Sue", grinding guitars and all, he sounds more like Ian Curtis and gives you the impression that Peggy Sue would have been the coolest chick on The Lower East Side. Even the punk poet Patti Smith was touched by Holly; she manages to turn "Words Of Love" into a gruffy, meditative song. I was struck as to how so many girls like Holly's music. The majority of them on this disc happen to be girls---Fiona Apple singing "Everyday", Karen Elson singing "Crying, Waiting, Hoping", Zooey Deschanel of She & Him singing "I'm A-Gonna Love You Too" and Florence & The Machine's take on "Not Fade Away", one of Holly's finest tunes. I'm surprised, though, that they didn't include The Rolling Stones' cover of "Not Fade Away". Mick Jagger once said that Buddy Holly was perhaps the finest rock and roll talent ever because he was "the only white musician who didn't borrow or steal from the blacks"; although when The Stones did "Not Fade Away", they made it sound black, Bo Diddley-beat and all. Of course, Holly's music had as much roots in country music than anything else. Just listen to Justin Townes Earle's cover of "Maybe Baby", with a gutbucket beat and a smoky touch of Red Gibson. However, the most impressive song on the record comes from one of Holly's greatest admirers: Paul McCartney. He covers Holly's "It's So Easy" and if you've ever heard Linda Ronstadt's version of this song, Macca's version will floor you. He sounds as raucuous and wild as he ever has, even going so far as to mimic Little Richardesque rants towards the end. One wishes that McCartney's music in the 1970's had this much crackling energy. It also makes you want to hear all of Holly's music, which is still available on MCA Records and even features a few outtakes and unreleased gems. If there is a bittersweet feeling about The Day The Music Died, it's important to keep in mind that it hasn't really died. Not when you've heard an album this refreshing, that is.