The Crickets

Rockin'

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This is one good album, transcending its origins as part of the early 70's rock 'n' roll revival. The usual idea in those days was to get the original players from some classic band together with modern equipment and hand them an "oldies" concept, and let them go through the motions. What makes Rockin' (originally released as Rockin' 50's Rock 'N' Roll on the Barnaby label) better its rivals is that the group members still had some passion to contribute to the material. The album starts off with the only new number here, a good, relatively unselfconscious oldies anthem that was several cuts above similar efforts by the Righteous Brothers et al. With Delaney Bramlett and the Crickets themselves sharing production responsiblities, the result was a surprisingly lean and energetic album, offering Sonny Curtis on lead vocals and guitar, Glen D. Hardin at the piano, Jerry Scheff on bass, and Jerry Allison on drums and vocals. Just when it seems like the record takes a wrong turn with what appears to be an unnecessary horn and string embellishment coming out of an otherwise nicely rocking "That'll Be The Day" (sung by Allison), it slides into "True Love Ways", where the strings are called for. The rest of the album consists of mostly spirited re-recordings of the group's classic repertory -- "Raining In My Heart" melding a restrained orchestral accompaniment and a lean band sound, a twangy and briskly paced "It's So Easy", with Curtis embellishing Holly's style of playing on the guitar break; and a medley consisting of a lyrical rendition of "Everyday" with an almost Baroque-style keyboard accompaniment, reminiscent of the harpsichord break on the Beatles' "In My Life", a hot performances of "Think It Over", and a triumphant finale of "Maybe Baby" with some beautiful and joyous harmony singing. Every time the record -- whose 25-minute running time keeps it all very brief -- seems inching toward disaster, it straightens out and flies right in a surprise move. Having said all that, there's nothing essential or notably original here, though it is all a lot of fun.

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