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Rave On – Buddy Holly (Various Artists)

Rave On, Buddy Holly (Various artists)

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

RAVE ON – Buddy Holly is a tribute album with a difference. Rather than enlisting artists to merely deliver faithful cover versions of the singer’s classic tracks, it’s a collection that left the songs open to interpretation.

What’s more, it was put together and overseen by legendary music supervisor Randall Poster (whose film work includes I’m Not There and The Darjeeling Limited) and who has collaborated with everyone from Martin Scorsese and Todd Haynes.

The line-up, meanwhile, is amazing, featuring everyone from Sir Paul McCartney and Lou Reed to Florence + The Machine, Julian Casablancas, Cee Lo Green and She & Him.

And while some songs sound vastly different from the original rock ‘n’ roll format, the spirit of each is maintained.

Florence + The Machine, for instance, bring an industrial New Orleans vibe to Not Fade Away (with help from Bayou icon Ivan Neville on keys) , while Modest Mouse takes That’ll Be the Day into truly avant-garde territory.

Cee Lo Green’s exquisite vocals, meanwhile, echo among handclaps and percussion on his epic reading of Baby, You’re So Square, Paul McCartney’s take on It’s So Easy is raw, propulsive and filled with boisterous spoken ad-libs, and Lou Reed lays down a blazing Peggy Sue, replete with overdriven guitars and loopy keyboards.

Says Poster: “As the tracks from various contributors were gathered for the album we seemed to be gathering pieces of a complex and original puzzle … that traces back to the roots of rock and roll and shapes so much of the music that followed.”

Admittedly, there may be some die-hard Buddy Holly purists among you that guffaw and scream outrage at some of the more radical reinterpretations. But for the majority of the time, the quality is such that every track has something positive to say about it.

And there are some wonderful surprises. My Morning Jacket’s stripped back, even tender, take on True Love Ways (complete with string arrangements) being one such example, and The Detroit Cobras’ retro-romp of Heartbeat being another.

Further highlights come in the form of Fiona Apple and Jon Brion’s sweetly disarming version of Everyday, She & Him’s similarly enchanting take on Oh Boy, and Karen Elson’s violin-backed version of Crying, Waiting, Hoping – which benefits from her distinct vocals.

Cee Lo Green, meanwhile, proves he really can do no wrong by bringing his soulful vocals to a breathtaking version of Baby, I Don’t Care, while Julian Casablancas also brings a distinct vocal performance to the post-punk infused Rave On.

We also liked Modest Mouse’s That’ll Be The Day, Sir Paul’s It’s So Easy, Graham Nash’s poignant Raining In My Heart and Jenny O’s sweet, retro flavoured I’m Gonna Love You Too, which is utterly delicious.
But then, in truth, there wasn’t much we didn’t like about this.

Download picks: Everyday, It’s So Easy, Not Fade Away, (You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care, I’m Gonna Love You Too, Oh Boy, True Love Ways, That’ll Be The Day, Heartbeat, Raining In My Heart

Track listing:

  1. Dearest – The Black Keys
  2. Everyday – Fiona Apple & Jon Brion
  3. It’s So Easy – Paul McCartney
  4. Not Fade Away – Florence + The Machine
  5. (You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care – Cee Lo Green
  6. Crying, Waiting, Hoping – Karen Elson
  7. Rave On – Julian Casablancas
  8. I’m Gonna Love You Too – Jenny O
  9. Maybe Baby – Justin Townes Earle
  10. Oh Boy – She & Him
  11. Changing All Those Changes – Nick Lowe
  12. Words of Love – Patti Smith
  13. True Love Ways – My Morning Jacket
  14. That’ll Be The Day – Modest Mouse
  15. Well All Right – Kid Rock
  16. Heartbeat – The Detroit Cobras
  17. Peggy Sue – Lou Reed
  18. Peggy Sue Got Married – John Doe
  19. Raining In My Heart – Graham Nash