Norman Petty's studios in Clovis, NM are most famous for recording the bulk of Buddy Holly's greatest sides, but it also recorded a lot of other rockabilly musicians in the late '50s. This 24-track compilation, half of it previously unissued, is devoted to these largely forgotten also-rans. A reason they're generally forgotten is that they're largely derivative, most frequently (surprise surprise) of Holly. Some of the artists, indeed, had significant Holly connections: Sonny Curtis was in the Crickets for a while, Gary Tollett recorded some material with Holly, Sonny West helped write Holly's "Oh Boy!" and "Rave On," and Ronnie Smith recorded with musicians who backed Holly on his final tour. Sometimes the resemblance to Holly seems extremely deliberate. The Nighthawks' "When Sin Stops" blatantly copies Holly's hiccuping vocal style and the Crickets' instrumental approach (this was a big local hit in Amarillo, TX and Nighthawks leader Eddie Reeves says Holly asked if he could cover it). Wes Bryan's "Blue Baby" leads off with a lick that's a direct rip-off of the Crickets' "That'll Be the Day." It's not only Holly who gets imitated: West's 1956 single "Rock-Ola Ruby" is one of the closest Sun-era Carl Perkins approximations you could ask for (and a pretty good track on its own merits), and Weldon Rogers' "The Sale of Broken Hearts" is a cop of Johnny Cash's early Sun sound. There are also Roy Orbison connections via the Roses (whose vocalists backed up Orbison on some Sun tracks); Rogers was in the Teen Kings, the Orbison group that did a pre-Sun single with Petty; and Peanuts Wilson, who played guitar on some Orbison Sun sessions, and whose previously unissued cover of Orbison's composition "Paper Boy" (included here) predates Orbison's own version. This anthology is interesting for Holly/Petty historians and rockabilly obsessives, but is too generic and imitative to interest others.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger