Ritchie Valens

In Concert at Pacoima Jr. High

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With only two brief albums and some demos and rehearsal tapes to draw from, the legacy of the late Ritchie Valens rests on an extremely small canon. Bob Keene managed to release two fairly decent Valens LPs on Keene's Del-Fi label, but this third LP, In Concert at Pacoima Jr. High, was literally the bottom of a very shallow barrel material-wise, consisting of six songs drawn from a poorly recorded junior high assembly concert at Pacoima Junior High in Los Angeles (including ragged versions of Valens' hits "Come On, Let's Go," "Donna," and "La Bamba"), and five studio fragments that were little more than song sketches. Mixed in are bits of totally unnecessary commentary by Keene himself, making the whole thing sound more like a radio documentary than a coherent artistic statement, and in essence, this set may be rock & roll's first official bootleg album. As such, it has some historical and archival importance, but it doesn't add up to a very good set, and in the end just illustrates the one inescapable fact about Ritchie Valens: he died too young.

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