Buddy Holly – Not Fade Away — Buddy Holly 1957: The Complete Recordings
Over three CDs, the aptly titled Not Fade Away details Buddy Holly’s rise from struggling singer to international star during 1957. Along with Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins, Holly helped to create the template for the singer-songwriter with his breakthrough hits “That’ll Be The Day” and “Peggy Sue”.
Taking a cue from fellow guitarist Les Paul, Holly was a visionary in the recording studio with his use of overdubbing. His double-tracked guitars and vocals give “Words Of Love” a haunting and ethereal quality in an era of monaural recording. He and his backing band, the Crickets, incorporated unconventional sounds in their recordings. Jerry Allison slapped his knees as a form of percussion on “Everyday” and played a cardboard box instead of drums on “Not Fade Away”. With his liberal policy on studio time, producer Norman Petty deserves credit for giving Holly the freedom to experiment.
The box set also offers a look at the lesser-known side of Holly. Three takes of Bo Diddley’s “Mona” provide a glimpse of Holly and Allison discussing and working on the song. An alternative version of “Oh Boy!” omits the backing vocals and is a revelation. Holly’s surging guitar is pushed forward in the mix and adds a level of excitement to the rockabilly-styled romp.
Holly moves from frontman to sideman in a role as a session guitarist for Carolyn Hester and Charlie Phillips. The latter’s version of “Sugartime” would become a hit for the McGuire Sisters. Not Fade Away features recordings of Holly and the Crickets performing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Arthur Murray Dance Party” television shows, where they are introduced as “rock ‘n’ roll specialists.”
Legal wrangling between Holly’s widow and his record company has prevented the release of a comprehensive box set of his work in the United States. With different copyright laws in Europe, El Toro has helped to ensure Holly’s achievements won’t fade away.