Various Artists

Rave on Buddy Holly

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AllMusic Review by

In some respects, Rave On Buddy Holly is a standard tribute album: it salutes a legend by rounding up classic rockers and hipsters to cover his canon, a practice that has been in place for nearly a quarter-century. In another regard, Rave On Buddy Holly is quite different. Encouraged by producer Randall Poster, the 19 artists involved do not settle for mere replications of Buddy’s hits, they play fast and loose, sometimes radically reinterpreting the original. Often, the effort is appreciated even when the rearrangement doesn’t quite work, as on Karen Elson's overly ornate “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” or Lou Reed’s turgid grind through “Peggy Sue.” Yet even if these particular cuts don’t click, they nevertheless sound faithful to both the artist and Holly, a trick that’s usually not pulled off on tribute albums yet often is here. This is as true of Nick Lowe’s casually straight-ahead “Changing All Those Changes” as it is of Florence & the Machine's “Not Fade Away,” which strips the tune of its signature Bo Diddley beat, and the pleasures of the album lie in discovering which direction an artist choose to follow: to discover Julian Casablancas turning “Rave On” into a Phrazes for the Young outtake, to hear Kid Rock try to wrestle “Well All Right” into the confines of a Stax stomper, to hear Modest Mouse work a handful of tempos into “That’ll Be the Day,” to hear Paul McCartney go inexplicably batty on his slow-grooving “It’s So Easy.”

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