CD reviews: Buddy Holly’s retro mix
August 25, 2011
produced by Randall Poster and Gelya Robb (Fantasy)Buddy Holly’s songs were created before anyone could even float the argument that rock ‘n’ roll was art. Holly’s songs, then, were simple and straightforward, and on the compilation “Rave On Buddy Holly,” a wide spectrum of singers see the songs as clean slates, as a way to stamp their own artistry on them. Holding the album together is a clever, overall retro feel that touched on a variety of styles from the ’50s and ’60s. The three-chord simplicity of “It’s So Easy” brings the best out of Paul McCartney, who hits an energy level – manic raving rocker – that he probably hasn’t reached, at least not on record, since the early days of the Beatles. The Black Keys go the other direction, keeping their version of “Dearest” slow and barely simmering. The British soulsters Florence + the Machine bring “Not Fade Away” to a dark, trippy corner of old New Orleans, with twisted bits of horns and a Big Easy rhythm melded with the distinctive “Not Fade Away” beat. Another Brit, Karen Elson, updates the girl-group approach on “Crying, Waiting, Hoping”; She & Him, the duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, does something similar with “Oh Boy!” My Morning Jacket goes into lounge-crooner mode on “True Love Ways.” (It’s not one of their finer moments.) Kid Rock reminds us he’s from Detroit with a wonderful take on “Well All Right” that nods as much to Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels as to Holly. Graham Nash and Lou Reed slip into their customary roles (Nash – soft piano and voice; Reed – grungy and droning) on “Peggy Sue” and “Raining in My Heart,” respectively. Julian Casablancas of the Strokes gets the honor of doing the title track, and takes it for a guitar-noise ride.All the bases are covered here, and Holly, who would have turned 75 next week, can consider himself thoroughly tributed.
produced by Brent TruittI always associated Vermont with happy music, thanks mostly to the state’s favorite sons, Phish. “Time to Go,” from Vermont singer-songwriter Erin McDermott, erases that association quite nicely. McDermott’s songs are of death and prison, drink and loneliness. But she doesn’t overplay this in her sound; her voice is pure and honest, lacking clichs. And her character-driven stories are sharp and detailed, with a sense of time, place and history. The title of “40 Acre Holocaust” alone might give you a chill, but the song, about the lasting aftermath of the Civil War battlefields, is smart and goes a long way toward illuminating the darkness. McDermott’s band on “Time to Go” is pulled from Nashville’s A-list: guitarist Bryan Sutton, fiddler Stuart Duncan, bassist Byron House. But here, rather than doing the acrobatics they are well capable of, they play in service to the tone of the firstname.lastname@example.org