Ritchie Valens was only 17 when he died in 1959 in the same plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, and he had only been working in a recording studio for about seven months when the tragedy occurred; thus, his musical legacy rests on about an album and a half of completed studio material, a poorly recorded high-school concert, and a handful of demos and rehearsal tapes. This set is a straight reissue of Valens' first album for Bob Keane's Del-Fi label, and it presents essentially the only truly finished work Valens recorded. It includes Valens' big hit, "La Bamba"; its flip side, "Donna" (which was actually the A-side, but "La Bamba" has emerged over time as Valens' signature tune); a halting, beautiful version of "Bluebirds Over the Mountain"; and the oddly haunting "In a Turkish Town." Valens' output is so sparse that it is probably best to pick up something like Rhino's Best of Ritchie Valens, which has all the key tracks from this first album plus the highlights from his patched-together second album, Ritchie. It is impossible to know the kind of artist Valens would have developed into, but this set suggests that the loss to music on that fateful day in 1959 may have been even greater than many realize.
|Label:||Wounded Bird Records|