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'Ultimate' Buddy Holly or not, this collection is tremendous value.
on 9 September 2008
I first heard Buddy Holly when I was a schoolboy in the late '50s. It may be difficult for today's teenagers to understand his impact, but Buddy changed our lives forever. He looked geeky but was great. He gave us hope and made us dream on. He wrote about our lives in his songs. Some of us got hold of cheap guitars and learned a few chords to play Oh Boy!, Peggy Sue, Not Fade Away and That'll Be The Day mainly trying to impress the girls. OK, well maybe we didn't win 'em over quite so easily, but Buddy provided the soundtrack to our lives for a while. Then unbelievably he was gone. I can remember sitting in the lockers with my pals, before school assembly, when someone came in with the news. We were stunned, devastated. But we had his records. Most of us had little money, so we played his 'singles' and those first two LPs until they were almost white, be we got to know every note. But I digress!
What 1-disc or 2-disc compilation would constitute the ultimate Buddy Holly and The Crickets collection? Well, as they say, it depends what you are looking for. There have been many excellent compilations over the years including more recently, these for example:
Words Of Love: Buddy Holly And The Crickets - a 1-CD compilation (28 tracks) - Polygram TV/ MCA (1993)
The Very Best Of Buddy Holly: 28 Classic Hits - a 1-CD compilation (28 tracks) - Dino (1996)
The Very Best Of Buddy Holly And The Crickets - a 1-CD compilation (36 tracks) - Universal (1999)
The Buddy Holly Story - a 1-CD compilation (12 tracks) - Commercial Marketing (2001)
The Best Of Buddy Holly - a 1-CD compilation (20 tracks) - Universal (2002)
The Best Of Buddy Holly - a 1-CD compilation (20 tracks) - Commercial Marketing (2002)
Buddy Holly Gold - a 2-CD compilation (50 tracks) - Geffen (2005)
The Definitive Buddy Holly - a 1-CD compilation (25 tracks) - Geffen (Australian Import) (2006)
All of these compilations include tracks by Buddy and The Crickets that first appeared on The Chirpin' Crickets album in 1957.
This particular 2-CD collection of 40 tracks running to almost 90 minutes is a very good one indeed. It may not include Peggy Sue, It's So Easy and Not Fade Away, nor others such as True Love Ways, Fools Paradise, Tell Me How, Well All Right and What To Do for that matter. All of these songs do appear on the above-mentioned 50-track Gold collection, as it happens. But there are other such gems here such as Bo Diddley, Love Is Strange, Mailman Bring Me No More Blues, Send Me Some Lovin', That Makes It Tough and Valley Of Tears - none of which are on the Gold CD. Most of the 40 tracks first appeared on the first 5 Buddy Holly albums as below, and/or as 'singles' in the '50s and early '60s.
- from The Chirpin' Crickets (1957) - 6 from the 12 tracks
- from Buddy Holly (1957) - 9 from the 12 tracks
- from That'll Be The Day (1958) - 5 from the 11 tracks
- from Reminiscing (1963) - 6 from the 11 tracks
- from Showcase (1964) - 3 from the 12 tracks
The rest of the tracks in this collection include Early In The Morning, written by Bobby Darin, which was Buddy's last chart hit during his lifetime. It was the first track he cut without The Crickets, after they had gone their separate ways in October 1958. There's also Heartbeat, familiar to half the nation through the long-running TV series, memorably decorated by Tommy Allsup's distinctive guitar sound. Included too are It Doesn't Matter Anymore/ Raining In My Heart, the 2 songs on the 'single' rush-released in the US to coincide with the Winter Dance Party tour. A few days later Buddy died in that fateful plane crash in Iowa with Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper (JP Richardson) and the pilot, Roger Peterson.
Worth noting is the fact that none of the tracks are ruined by those rotten 1984 vocal overdubs by The Picks, which seem to crop up on so many Buddy Holly compilations these days, pushing Buddy's voice further down the mix, and giving a totally false impression of his great music. What you do have is a very modestly-priced, representative collection of many of Buddy's very best recordings. There are no duds to worry about . The useful 8-page accompanying booklet has track details and an informative if brief overview of Buddy's career by music writer Dave McAleer.
Additionally, you could get hold of any missing tracks, according to what you are looking for, by checking out the track listings on the above compilations, and going for the one that best suits your needs. All are currently available on Amazon/ Amazon Market Place at a very modest price. You would probably have a number of duplications but certainly would then have the ultimate - if not the complete - Buddy Holly and The Crickets collection. All for around a tenner.
Oh Boy! Hog Heaven!