Rave On Buddy Holly/Various Artists
Despite the diverse cast of characters found on this cover collection, the album still has consistency. It’s found in Buddy Holly’s enduring song writing. With all of the different writers and performers contributing to the record, it is the heavy hitters you expect the most from who deliver the least: McCartney, Patti Smith, and Lou Reed.
Patti Smith sticks with herself in slowing down Words Of Love, making it poetic (and almost inaccessible.) She leaves her punk roots behind, along with the original charming rockabilly strum-a-long. McCartney tries to sound young and we only hear his overproduced It’s So Easy, more than doubling the length of the original version. Lou Reed gives us a great sound on Peggy Sue but with a voice that sounds just what it is, bare and worn out. It is with Gram Nash’s closing track, Raining In My Heart, we find articulation and enchantment with a chorus of strings and reverb on the harmonica that is mindful and charming.
Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys croons and delivers on the opener Dearest, proving that the band’s soul never really leaves them. With Every Day, Fiona Apple is still round and full. Her thick voice rumbles and patters well with the every present xylophone chiming along. Florence Welch wails on the lines of Not Fade Away. My love a-bigger than the Cadillac/I try to show it ‘n you drive-a me back, reminds us of Holly’s time when the Cadillac was king. (You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care is a true carnival, highlighting Cee Lo Green’s ability to not only make a great track, but make any track great. Karen Elson gives us a straight delivery on Crying, Waiting, Hoping. As does Julian Casablancas. He finds himself wedged in a guitar chorus with seamless panning and a grungy echo that always works perfectly as he fronts The Strokes.
The album stays true to Texas, and Holly, with Jenny O. on I’m Gonna Love You Too. Justin Townes Earle is sure of his country twang on Maybe Baby and Nick Lowe’s Changing All Those Changes remains a hop-to rockabilly rock song. She & Him follow suit. Zooey Deschanel might be one of the most recognizable female vocalists – remaining timeless herself while still holding her own on a track preceding her by decades. Her other half, M. Ward, remains anything but mysterious through his guitar work. My Morning Jacket become the slow jam kings (also mastered on their new release, Circuital) and focus the photo with strings accompanying their acoustic romance on True Love Ways.
Modest Mouse wisps you up with their odd, yet epic memorable dream scape on That’ll Be The Day. With the dirty channel on the bass at full force they let you forget the original song. You’ll need to go back and revisit it’s vocal jabs and consistent sounds, which you won’t find in the cover.
The sleeper track remains to be seen, to some, but is found here with Kid Rock. Play the hundred guesses game and no one will select him as the performer on Well…All Right. The guitars are groovy and slide around, the horns are in full swing and his voice finds its soul placed wonderfully between hand percussion and toe tappin’.
Rave On Buddy Holly stands out as a great cover record. Each track can be it’s own featured on any radio playlist or as a whole piece in tribute to one of America’s greatest loves, Buddy Holly. The only surprise we find here is that the performers in furthest removed generation deliver the best portion of the album. We shall expect nothing less of our current musical community, eclectic and noteworthy on its own, to still find value in honoring Holly’s songwriting. Out on Fantasy/Concord on June 28th, Rave On Buddy Holly will do just that. Rave On.