Newest Review: ... the C&W field - as a songwriting force as powerful as his would never have chosen to lie fallow. Without Buddy Holly's enormous influ... more
The music never died!
The Best Of - Buddy Holly
Member Name: GentleGenius
The Best Of - Buddy Holly
Advantages: The largely best known work of a true legend
Disadvantages: Could have included a wider range of Buddy's material
Despite having been on sale for almost 40 years, it wasn't until 1996 when The Best Of Buddy Holly showed its face in the UK album charts, reaching a seriously modest no.24 in December of that year.
Buddy Holly in my opinion was an exceptionally gifted songwriter, and although his voice wasn't by any means the best, his very distinctive sound - both musically and vocally - has shone brightly through the corridors of pop music history. It is possible that at least some of the admiration he has received, together with his legend status, could have arisen from his very untimely demise in a plane crash in February 1959 (in which his travelling companions Big Bopper and Richie Valens also lost their lives) aged just 22, but I feel we have to look at the enormous influence he was having on youth prior to his death, to realise that had he lived, he possibly could have gone onto bigger things.
Had Buddy lived, it's my own and possibly wrong feeling that he simply would have 'gone country' rather than absorbed the influences from the beat movement which was happening all around him in Greenwich Village, New York, where he chose to live with his new wife Maria Elena not too long before his death - I don't see Buddy growing his hair, trekking down to San Francisco and becoming an acid shop poet or a sandal and flower-wearing hippie - nor can I envisage him having taken the stage at Las Vegas and wearing tight white sparkly catsuits like Elvis did. Buddy Holly and Elvis to me, although they shared a rock & roll era superstar status during the 1950s, were worlds apart at root, and were completely different kinds of performers. I feel certain Buddy would have done SOMETHING though - as said probably in the C&W field - as a songwriting force as powerful as his would never have chosen to lie fallow.
Without Buddy Holly's enormous influence on the Fab Four, would The Beatles have hit the big time in the way that they did? Of course it's impossible to say, but there's no doubt that - and according to their own admissions - Buddy Holly was almost the single largest driving force for John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison when they were learning guitar and scribbling their own songs in their mid-teens.
For the most part, this album contains the songs of Buddy Holly that we all know best, yet it's strange that aside from Peggy Sue which reached no.6 in the UK singles charts in 1957, Rave On making it to no.5 in June 1958 and at the time of his death, It Doesn't Matter Any More hitting the number one spot, then into the early 1960s Reminiscing, Brown-eyed Handsome Man and Bo Diddley posthumously making it into the top ten, none of the other tracks on this album reached Britain's top ten singles charts. (NB: For some strange reason, Bo Diddley doesn't appear on this album which I'm reviewing).
The Best Of Buddy Holly is an excellent selection of his material, but omits what for me is some of his very best work. I find it odd that the album contains the lesser known tracks such as Midnight Shift, Wishing, Learning The Game and Reminiscing, yet (for instance) doesn't include Crying Waiting Hoping or Ready Teddy....two of Buddy's absolute gems which I am disappointed have in this instance been overlooked. I guess the excuse given may be that of space restraints on a CD, but this collection of tracks as it stands is comprised of songs that are all less than 2:50 minutes long, so surely it wouldn't have been so difficult to include a wider diversity of Buddy's material?
Essentially, Buddy Holly began as a rockabilly artist, who like so many other white performers from the south-east corner of the USA, was greatly influenced by pre-rock & roll music such as blues, boogie-woogie, R&B etc. (people like Big Joe Turner), and he cleverly incorporated these influences into his music, yet still kept it sounding "white" - NB: Please everybody don't take that as a racist comment, as it isn't in the slightest. I am merely examining where Buddy Holly was coming from as a singer/songwriter/performer, and what the outcome was.
It's very difficult for me to pick a favourite track from this particular collection of Buddy Holly material, but when push comes to shove, I'd probably opt for what I refer to as the 'Peggy Sue saga'. The track, which was originally called 'Cindy Lou', has always had an air of mystery about it - who was 'Peggy Sue'? Some say that she, in the form of Cindy Lou, was an ex-girlfriend of Buddy's, but I have no idea as to whether that analysis by many rock/pop journalists over the decades is truth or speculation. The track Peggy Sue has that classic, soft, continuously rolling drumbeat behind Buddy's very gently strummed guitar, yet Peggy Sue Got Married (which is my joint favourite on this album) is somewhat different in that has more of a 'pop-ish' sound and is less mesmerising - just as good though.
My least favourite track on this collection - and I can honestly say it's the ONLY Buddy Holly track that I dislike out of all his material, including that which doesn't appear on this album - is True Love Ways. I realise that it's his very best liked track by many, many people, but it just doesn't do it for me. Firstly I find it a surprisingly weak song for such a gifted songwriter; secondly I feel that Buddy's voice is completely unsuited to it and thirdly, I hate the instrumental accompaniment. Maybe it would sound a little better if it were just Buddy and the Crickets, without the added violins and muted cornet (I think it's a cornet!!). I don't think Buddy's talent laid comfortably with penning a slushy love song - I feel he was much better at the other, high-school type stuff when it came to all things romance-orientated, but my favourite works of his are those rock'n'roll flavoured or rockabilly laced pop songs. I just wish this album had included a couple of the songs which I mention way up above - things like Crying, Waiting, Hoping.
There are some people who tell me they can't abide Buddy Holly, and to me that is just as much of a mystery as to why some people hate The Beatles - what is there to hate about either of them? That's just me and my opinion though.
Despite lacking some of Buddy's best material, this CD I feel contains a valuable representation of his fantastic work - remember he was only aged about 18 or 19 when he wrote much of this material - and would proudly grace any music collection. Buddy's 1950s music is now more than 50 years old, and a lot of the tracks on this album have gone down as all-time standards.
I can't believe there's anyone out there, of whatever age, who isn't to some degree extremely familiar with at least one or two of Buddy Holly's songs even if they don't know it's Buddy Holly (a bit like people loving the song Have I Told You Lately, believing it to be a Rod Stewart composition and are gobsmacked when they learn it's a Van The Man song). If you love Buddy Holly yet don't have any of his music, or if you have a vague idea as to who he is (or not!) and want to know more, you can purchase this collection of one of the greatest songwriters of all time's work.
At the time of writing, The Best Of Buddy Holly can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: From £2.70 to £58.24
Used: From £1.13 to £14.86
Collectible: £5.00 (only one copy available at the moment)
A delivery charge of £1.24 should be added to the above costs, although one or two Amazon sellers are offering free delivery.
Alternatively, just to get a feel of the man if you don't already have one, why not scout around on YouTube? There are many vintage clips of Buddy Holly & The Crickets performing their classic stuff live - don't let the black & white, grainy appearance of the film put you off - remember...these clips are more than half a century old. Also, Buddy and his band didn't shake their hips like Elvis, or beat hell out of their piano with their feet like Jerry Lee Lewis....nor was he sex on legs like Ricky Nelson - but he and his band gently and truly ROCKED!!!
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: Buddy Holly....long gone, but never forgotten!