I wonder what Buddy would say today?
When the preview link for the new Buddy Holly tribute album, “Rave On” popped up on NPR’s website on Monday, I was super excited. I’m not sure when exactly I became a crazed Buddy Holly aficionado, but it started somewhere with memorizing “American Pie” around the age of 8, hit a new high around the time I saw “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” in the early 90’s and remained with me every time I’d play the cast recording to death or hear Weezer’s love tribute song. He was cool long before it was cool to be a hipster, and I could listen to his songs and never be tired of them. And trust me, I didn’t earn any cool points in middle school for professing my love of his music…
But I guess it’s inevitable that he’d be back in style now that his glasses and geeky chic are cultural norms… only, I’m not sure this is a good thing. Because, to be perfectly honest, there are some songs on this album that would make you cover your ears and run for the hills… and I’m pretty sure Buddy would agree.
I found four songs that I liked: Everyday by Fiona Apple and Jon Brion, Oh Boy! by She and Him, True Love Ways by My Morning Jacket and (You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care by Cee Lo. Everything else is, um, how do I put this gently… absolutely horrific? (And yes, this includes Paul McCartney’s version of It’s So Easy)
Most of the songs are overproduced and sung with no passion at all. It’s exactly the opposite of how Buddy Holly performed and recorded his songs… something that you can hear in those records still today. You can’t be lazy with his music, and these people seemed like they showed up to the studio on barely any sleep, drew a song out of a hat, drank something to sedate them, and sang these to their pet iguana. And then the producer just started hitting buttons and hoped that the end result would sound “cool.”
Tribute albums can be dangerous things… and this one, my friends, does the recipient no honor. Stay far far away from “Rave On” and stick to the real thing…
I like The Black Keys cover of Dearest, but that was our wedding song, so I may be biased.
Makes me worry about the Hum tribute album I’m about to pre-order. But I know I will anyway. :) Tribute albums are always a little worrisome, but if you like the band, it’s almost like you can’t say no.