Friday, August 26, 2011

Buddy Holly is rolling over in his grave.

Okay this is a total red letter. I started my tirade about two months ago on my Tumblr and decided to move it here for a more detailed explanation, but it seems this got left in the drafts folder. Well... on with the show.

Someone please kill me.

I'm waiting. Seriously.

When I first heard about the Buddy Holly tribute album, Rave On Buddy Holly, I was ecstatic. I love Buddy Holly. There I said it. I love Buddy Holly. Buddy Holly was a genius long before the time of rock geniuses. Sure, some of his singles were utter pop crap, but if you really look at what he did with music and when, well, Buddy Holly rocked that shit. Hard.

Concord Music Group posted the entire album on SoundCloud for you to "enjoy" for free.
Sadly his legacy has been tarnished by his early demise. Tarnish? Yes, tarnished. He's remembered as the guy that sang "That'll Be the Day" and died in the plane crash, not as a songwriter, producer and musician that left a lasting impact on the music industry. If you listen to the body of work he recorded in the four - FOUR - short years of his music career, you can just imagine what he'd have done if he had lived.


I'm obviously passionate about Buddy Holly and to me, Rave On Buddy Holly lacks serious guts; every single artist fails to reach their potential. It's almost like they intentionally tried to make a bad record. Frankly, I think it's a waste of talent and craftsmanship.

Dearest (The Black Keys) by concordmusicgroup

The biggest disappointment for me was The Black Keys. I love The Black Keys. The power-blues sound that Dan and Patrick pump out on a regular basis puts most four-piece bands to shame. However, their contribution of "Dearest" is utterly unimpressive; drab and boring.

Maybe I developed some preconceived notion about The Black Keys sound. Maybe I expected them to perform a Buddy Holly song; "Dearest" was written by Bo Diddley. Regardless, what I got certainly wasn't what I expected.

Everyday (Fiona Apple & Jon Brion) by concordmusicgroup

Paul McCartney sounds like a fool; his version of "It's So Easy" reminds me of a drunk garage band screwing around at the end of a recording session. Lou Reed and Patti Smith need to retire; permanently. Listening to their offerings, "Peggy Sue" and "Words of Love" respectively, is actually painful. She & Him, Florence and the Machine and Modest Mouse perform lackadaisically and Kid Rock has once again proven to me that he is a talent-less schmuck.

Picking highlights for this was honestly a bit rough, but there are a few - very few - redeeming moments. Fiona Apple & John Brion win with me over with their no frills, straight take of "Everday". I liked Justin Townes Earle's roughed up "Maybe, Baby"; the bluesy overdrive and Nashville twang are a nice touch, but otherwise it's a pretty straight forward rendition of the classic Buddy Holly sound.

Maybe Baby (Justin Townes Earle) by concordmusicgroup

Honorable mention goes to She & Him and (sadly, or is that ironically) Cee Lo Green for their contributions, but they didn't play songs Buddy Holly wrote, they played songs Buddy Holly played. Okay, okay, it's a technicality, but still.

The album is missing a real standout diversion from the Buddy Holly sound. Something that you wouldn't know was a Buddy Holly song just by the sound of it, say, The Crystal Method covering "Don’t Come Back Knockin’" or LCD Soundsystem (yes, I know they broke up.) doing "Think It Over".

Reading this back, I think I've developed a more scathing view on the album between the time I wrote the original outline and when I click publish post. As much as I'd love to say it's because Rave On is really that tragic, it's most likely due to the release of SPIN Magazine's Nirvana tribute, another artist that I love, love, love.

And let me say Newermind is FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC. But that's another blog, one that also fell into the red letter bin. Fear not. It will soon see the light of day.

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