Buddy Holly

The Late, Great Buddy Holly [DVD]

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Buddy Holly simply wasn't alive long enough for him to be filmed that often. That, however, doesn't stop enterprising unauthorized labels from trying to construct compilations of Holly footage, or Holly-related footage, that will fill up one or even two discs. Such is the case with this two-DVD set, which combines actual archive footage with documentaries that, while not the best such Holly projects, are rarely seen items that serious fans might not to have. Disc one, which lasts just under a half-hour, is almost wholly devoted to actual Holly footage, including the few television clips that survive in watchable condition -- most notably his two Ed Sullivan Show appearances, as well as a less commonly circulating one of the Crickets doing "Peggy Sue" on Arthur Murray Dance Party. Less essential viewing are a half-dozen brief segments of home movie footage, showing Buddy and the Crickets relaxing and clowning around at home and on tour, though to the disc's credit, at least these are made more watchable by the use of Holly recordings on the soundtrack. Stretching things further are a couple montages combining brief live recordings of Holly on tour in England in 1958 with images of him and the Crickets in performance, though it's not clear from the packaging whether those images are from the actual television programs or gigs at which those recordings were made.

Disc two, though it has no stand-alone actual footage of Holly, does feature a couple of documentaries that aren't easy to come by if you weren't fortunate enough to tape them off the TV when they were originally broadcast. One, titled Rave On, is a general documentary of his life and music; the other, The Last Day (aired in 1999), focuses on his last tour and the plane crash that took his life. Both programs have interviews with quite a few people who played and worked with Holly, and thus are worthwhile for hardcore fans, though neither is as good as the two best (and more widely available) Holly documentaries, The Real Buddy Holly Story and The Music of Buddy Holly & the Crickets: The Definitive Story. The second disc also includes some entertaining but irrelevant late-'50s movie trailers and TV commercials that have nothing to do with Holly, though at least it does also have a few decent television clips of fellow late-'50s rock & roll stars Bill Haley, the Silhouettes, Sam Cooke, Jerry Lee Lewis (in a great live version of "Great Balls of Fire"), Dion & the Belmonts, and the Big Bopper.