Buddy Holly is one of those artists that one must simply have in their collection. As a rock and roll pioneer, Holly forever changed how music was performed. His new sound came at a time when the audience was ready for a shift from the big band vocal jazz and blues performances that had been culturally popular prior to the 1950s. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with those before mentioned styles, Holly was able to adapt his new sound and integrate it with traditional genres. Although, I’ve no doubt that many parents took offence, at the time, to his style and the topics he discussed via song. Perhaps it is simply a generational thing, but that response is still applicable in modern society.
Unfortunately, Holly would die tragically in a plane crash when he was only 22. It still amazes me how much wonderful music he brought to the world in the four short years between 1955 and 1959. I often sit and ponder what could have been if he, and many other musical greats, remained with us longer. Would they have further evolved music into a different art form that would seem foreign to us today? Of course, I don’t have any answer for my own hypothesising, but I can say with certainty that we are extraordinarily lucky to have the collection of songs we have.
Over the years, I had become aware of Holly’s most famous songs, but I never owned any of his albums. In 2007 I decided to change that as I purchased That’ll Be The Day from iTunes. Along with that song, that he recorded with The Crickets, I purchased a variety of 50s and 60s tracks that I didn’t have at the time. I cherish all those songs to this day and will write about them in future posts, but for now I’m busy collecting as much of this music on vinyl as I can.
With that in mind, I had recently picked up Buddy Holly and The Crickets’ album, The Chirping Crickets. It is fantastic! Seriously, get yourself a copy. For streamers, it is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi and Apple Music.
By now, you’re probably wondering how I came about collecting Buddy Holly’s Greatest Hits. For Christmas my closest friends gave me the book Rockwiz Decades – The Greatest Songs Of Our Time. Within its pages, I came across Buddy Holly’s song True Love Ways. I was captivated by the song’s beauty. It has the perfect mixture of jazz, blues, and orchestral backing music. As a result, I truly believe it is now my favourite song from Buddy Holly’s catalogue. Interestingly, I had never heard the song before and I went in search of obtaining a copy. The album it was originally released on was the posthumous release The Buddy Holly Story, Vol. 2. Unfortunately, that album hasn’t been re-issued on vinyl, so I kept searching and found that it was available on the Greatest Hits vinyl release. I was elated to find my most trusted record dealer, Goldmine Records, had a copy in stock. I was equally excited when the album arrived this morning.
The Vinyl Passion pressing contains a selection of 19 songs and certainly lives up to it’s Greatest Hits moniker. It is also perfectly silent. I’ve never fully researched how the actual DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) Cutting process works, but I have noticed that albums done using this process are always of high quality, while being reasonably priced. Regardless, the sonic mastering of this album is exquisite and matches my expectations.
Unfortunately, this album and the specific track listing, isn’t available on CD or via streaming services. That said, I will discuss some of the songs in further detail and link to the editions that are available for purchase via iTunes. The songs are also available on TIDAL Hi-Fi and Apple Music, so simply copy and paste the song names. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this collection; I know I do.
Peggy Sue reminds me of many of the songs from that era that would be named after an individual known to the writer. This candid biographical style of writing music seems to have diminished in the last couple of decades and I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t a case of avoiding litigation these days. If it is, the world has surely gone crazy. Regardless, the song has a great early rock beat that is easy to sing–along with.
Oh, Boy! is a wonderful song with a speedy tempo that mixes the lead vocal and background harmony so well, you will not be sure which one to sing–along with. I like songs like that. The ones where you are the lead performer during the chorus, but can then sink into the background during the verses.
Maybe Baby is the song that makes me think Buddy Holly is the sing–along king. Seriously, I’m not normally a lyrics kind of guy, but when Buddy is playing, I have to sing. The songs are so catchy, but they are not clichéd. Maybe Baby, along with Holly’s entire catalogue, remain timeless.
Listen To Me is quite a shift in tempo and I feel that is slows down the record a little too much. A simple re-tracking would have solved this problem but I find Listen To Me has a very similar tone to some of the early Beatles songs well over a decade later. I know The Beatles were inspired by 1950s rock and roll, I would love to know if this song had any impact on them.
Rave On is an epic song that sounds more akin to the early 60s style of rock and roll. I certainly don’t believe it would inaccurate to say that Holly was well ahead of his time.
Fool’s Paradise sounds like a lovely place to be. I was there once in my early courting days. If anyone knows how to get back there, please let me know! Fool’s Paradise is just one of those lovely romantic songs.
Early In The Morning is perhaps the only song that I find irritating on the album. It is a good song, but I feel the background vocals are a little too much. Think The Chipettes.
Heartbeat reminds me of the UK television police drama. The show used a cover of Holly’s original, recorded by Nick Berry, as their theme song. I truly like both editions of the song, but sometimes the overcommercialisation of a song can have detrimental effects on one’s recognition.
It Doesn’t Matter Anymore is a song that I recall from my childhood, I just can’t exactly recall why. Not being able to remember is going to drive me nuts. If I ever figure it out, I will update the post.
Raining In My Heart is a tragic love song, but beautifully executed. Unfortunately, on my copy of the record, there are a couple of dropouts that occur within five rotations of the song commencing. It isn’t the end of the world. This is just one of the limitations of vinyl. It is just a shame given how good the rest of the album is. That said, I still love looking at the record spinning and the needle gliding through the groove. It may be old technology, by today’s standards, but it is still amazing and dare I say it, it sounds better (okay, different!).
Midnight Shift is simply a catchy song that works well in this compilation.
Peggy Sue Got Married is a sequel to the original song Peggy Sue. While it pays homage to the original, it is uniquely different with a more bluesy sound. I have always enjoyed song sequels and their appearance on concept albums. While this song in particular wasn’t part of a concept album, it was likely one of the first songs that was presented in the sequel format. That said, as with movies, the song sequel rarely meets the expectation set by the original. That is certainly true in this case.
Learning The Game isn’t one of my favourite songs as it has too much guitar twang. That said, I recognise how popular the acoustic twang was in that era and I’m sure many of you would enjoy it.
(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care is a fun song. It has also been covered by a who’s who of the music industry including, of course, Buddy Holly. I have Queen’s edition on Hungarian Rhapsody (Live In Budapest 1986). They do it well, but the mimicking vocal style Freddie Mercury applies to the song is a little over-the-top.
Valley Of Tears closes out the album with the haunting pipe organ being used in the backing track. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would love to see the pipe organ used more in modern music. I think it has a undesirable reputation due to its association with churches and associated ceremonies, along with horror medias, but it is a powerful instrument that immediately invokes emotion.
Buddy Holly is an amazing artist with a catalogue of songs that any musician would envy. If you don’t have his music in your collection, you should change that as soon as possible. You will never regret it!