Sunday, October 15, 2006

Review #7: Buddy Holly

The 1950's gave us the birth of Rock 'n' Roll. Specifically, the latter '50s is when it begins to get noticed. Although the single was king, a few artists managed to release albums that included at least twelve songs. Several of these albums are disregarded as unoriginal, filled with filler songs that were dull and a few hit singles. However, some did become important and one of those albums, released in 1958 was Buddy Holly. Despite having success with the Crickets, this album was a 'solo release' and part of an ingenious plan of Decca's to get twice the amount of Buddy Holly product out at once. With that tiny bit of history aside, it's on to the review of Geffen's 2004 'Rock 'n' Roll 50th Anniversary' edition. Read on....! (or should I say 'Rave On'?)

It's got Peggy Sue, Words of Love, Rave On, Ready Teddy, Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues, Everyday....and that's just half of it. All twelve tracks on Buddy Holly might not be all rock classics, but they're all great. None of the songs clock in anywhere near three minutes and the entire album lasts less that a half-an-hour, but somehow it still seems to mean so much. Later, artists would go on to make double and even triple albums and it would take all that space to tell the listener what they wanted to say. Buddy Holly took 25 minutes to say 'I love you' and the listener was happy.
The music contained in the packaging is too good to say something bad about. It's like trying to review the best artwork you've ever seen.
It's sound is great and the three bonus cuts all are pretty nifty, although the female backup singers sound terrible and don't mix well with Holly's vocals.
The cover to the album, during a time when all you needed was a simple portrait of an artist, is the most striking cover ever. Despite all the innovative covers that would come out of the '60s and '70s, this picture of Holly is more interesting than any of those. Holly stands, arms crossed and without glasses, against a yellow-orange wall. He is staring right at you. The picture feels more like a painting and is totally different than what anyone might have expected. The back has a bland doodle of a guitar and people dancing, with a description of Holly and the music within. This 2004 copy adds an excellent essay that tells you where the songs came from and explains the three bonus tracks included. Also included is two outtake pictures from the same session that produced the cover and a picture of Holly and the band that worked on the album with him.
If there ever was an album that a music fan just could not live without, Buddy Holly is one. What makes it so sad is that this is only one of two albums he released in his too-short lifetime. This makes it as much of a historical artifact as it is an enjoyable piece of music that will lift your spirits, even if their already as high as you think they can be.

Album: ****
Packaging: ****
Overall: ****

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