Buddy Holly


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Giant marked the tail end of the pre-revival Buddy Holly posthumous LPs -- that is, it was the last album issued before the general public began developing a special awareness of Buddy Holly and his music. It's also a very frustrating album and the release that divides more of his fans than any other record associated with him; on the one hand, it's described by many critics as little better than a bootleg and an example of grave-robbing in progress, as it consists of demos and song fragments heavily redubbed and re-edited into complete songs by Norman Petty; to make matters worse, none of the sides here except for the instrumental "Holly Hop" are originals -- everything else is a cover of songs written by or associated with Fats Domino, Little Richard, and the like. On the other hand, Giant is a fun album, if not quite a good one; it's nowhere near as important as any of Holly's official releases in his lifetime or as edifying as his sides as part of Buddy & Bob (released on Holly in the Hills), some of the overdubbing is a good distance away from what we can figure Holly would have allowed or done himself, and none of it would or could rate a place on a best-of Buddy Holly, but it's still difficult to complain about most of this album, based on it as a listening experience; while not defending the specific choices made, nor the process or the practice behind it, can anyone imagine ten outtakes or song fragments from Bill Haley or Chuck Berry from the same era coming out this well? Or ten fragmentary, mostly unfinished songs by the Beatles showing up this way and sounding so good (then again, listeners did get that around the same time -- it's called Let It Be)? The renditions (one hesitates to call them Holly's renditions) of "Ain't Got No Home," "Good Rockin' Tonight," "Love Is Strange," "Slippin' and Slidin'," "Blue Monday," and "(Ummm. Oh Yeah) Dearest" make this album worth hearing, even for purists.

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