17.77 Out Of Stock
There's a lot of good to be said for this double-CD set, which assembles what seems to be Buddy Holly's complete 1956 output -- 41 songs, including outtakes -- in one place. But before one does, it's important to point out, as well, that this set also carries an inherent moral problem -- it is an unauthorized release of Holly's work, made possible by the lax copyright laws in Europe which allow it but, nonetheless, a "theft" from Holly's widow and family, and it says something for how personally this reviewer takes Holly and his music that this matters enough to write this; others will have to decide for themselves if they mind stealing from the family of a legitimate idol, but it doesn't make this reviewer feel good. That said, this is a phenomenal collection, in terms of content and sound quality, allowing one to trace the evolution of Holly's performing and songwriting across his first year in music as a solo performer. Most serious fans will already be familiar with the core of this collection, as it has been released as the That'll Be the Day album as well as The Nashville Sessions, but it's still a serious revelation to hear these tracks in close, glittering sound, and to get Holly's complete output from the period. If a dozen or more songs from those Nashville sessions made for good listening, the presentation here is exponentially more powerful, as the complete output from that year (which also includes sides recorded with Norman Petty in Clovis and Lubbock) unfolds -- the lesser songs and ballads are actually propped up by the presence of the classic rockers ("That'll Be the Day," "Changing All Those Changes," "Rock Around with Ollie Vee" etc.), while the latter, heard in a sympathetic (and appropriate) musical environment, take on an even greater musical impact. And the last round of Nashville cuts, in particular, hold up extremely well as a coherent body of work, complete with Dutch McMillin's tenor sax, putting a new wrinkle into the established rockabilly sound of the period. The producers were also smart to divide the set in two, with the first disc anchored in Holly's official recording efforts in Nashville, while the second is built on the Lubbock demos -- the latter aren't all in the best of shape, and don't constitute commercial recording, as they are undubbed; but they show Holly at his most raw and basic, rocking out hard and fast and experimenting in the studio to see what works and what doesn't. Most of what is here has been heard before, but the assembly and the presentation, complete with very thorough annotation (though a sessionography would have been nice) make it a virtually essential acquisition for Holly fans, and even casual listeners might be amazed by what some of them find here. And if not for the set's bootleg status, it would probably get an even higher rating than it does.