His sphere of influence still endures and grows. Rave on, Buddy...
Chris Jones 2009
This latest collection commemorates the 50th anniversary of the day that Charles Hardin Holley (sic) climbed aboard his last plane ride. Who, you wonder, really needs to hear the story one more time: of how the geeky boy from Lubbock Texas heard Elvis and eventually turned from his first love, country to the new-fangled rock and roll with his band the Crickets? Well, like all great tales it bears re-telling and this double cd does the job perfectly.
It was the guiding hand of Norman Petty that captured the exhilerating blast of That'll Be The Day (named after John Wayne's catch phrase in John Ford's The Searchers) and got Holly and his friends signed to the Brunswick label. Throughout 1958 Holly recorded virtually everything you hold in your hands if you buy this album, including the visceral driving bursts like Rave On, Think It Over, Oh Boy! and of course that most primal of stomps: Peggy Sue. Over a backing so basic it makes the White Stripes look like Genesis, this is purest rock 'n' roll, all topped off with Holly's amazing nasal stutter. Quite literally, nothing had ever sounded like this before.
And then there's the 'later' pieces, recorded in New York with full orchestra and no band: sensitive and yearning hits like Raining In My Heart and True Love Ways. Joined by demos and rough covers of other rockers' standards like Brown-Eyed Handsome Man, Ready Teddy or Blue Suede Shoes, this is just about everything you need to really know about the quiet Texan.
Divorced from any of the tragedy of such an early death, or even from the the fact that this extraordinary creative burst lasted barely a year and half, these songs still stand as utterly essential symbols of youthful desire, wild times and joyous music making. The Beatles were named in honour of the Crickets. Hank Marvin got his first Fender Stratocaster because Buddy played one. His sphere of influence still endures and grows. Rave on, Buddy...