Various Artists

Stay All Night: Buddy Holly's Country Roots

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This 20-track CD, without a catalog number and with its "label" origins hidden inside -- but a fully legitimate release -- will probably turn up in the "Buddy Holly" bins of most music stores, à la the typical tribute album. On the other hand, there are a pair of 1953 vintage, previously unissued Buddy Holly tracks, cut with Jack Neal. But all of that is a little misleading, inviting the uninitiated purchaser to think that the contents of this CD are made up of vintage country tracks that influenced Holly. Rather, Stay All Night consists of current (2004 vintage) recordings by the artists represented. These aren't bad -- and there is something affecting about hearing Larry and Travis Holley doing "Remember Me," the current incarnation of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys isn't bad, and Judy Luis Watson is superb on "Suitcase Blues" -- but they also lack some of the interest that historical recordings would have. Instead, what you get is current versions of the country, country-blues, gospel, Western swing, and hillbilly songs, which make for an interesting and entertaining document, but nothing as informative or revealing as what one hoped for. The sound is state-of-the-art on the new sides, of course, and the band (including Tommy Alsup, Al Perkins, et al.) is first-rate, so it's difficult to complain too loudly; the record ends up being a close cousin to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will the Circle Be Unbroken, with an honesty about the work and the music that is compelling in its own right, and the annotation in the accompanying booklet is very thorough.

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