Buddy Holly

The Music of Buddy Holly & the Crickets [DVD]

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Since the 1980s video The Real Buddy Holly Story was very good, some fans might have questioned the need for this entirely separate 100-minute documentary done years later. This DVD is very good as well, however, and -- remarkably, among projects of this kind -- really does concentrate on the music, rather than giving the personal life of the subject equal or greater priority. The basic outline and highlights of Holly's career are here, but the real focus is on interviews with several of his closest surviving associates, including fellow Crickets Jerry Allison and Joe B. Mauldin; Sonny Curtis; Sonny West, who wrote Buddy's hits "Oh Boy" and "Rave On"; Peggy Sue Gerson, who married Allison in the late '50s and was the inspiration for the title of "Peggy Sue"; and Carl Bunch and Tommy Allsup, who were part of the Crickets for Holly's final, ill-fated tour. And these are good interviews, not the sort where they just tell stories that were funny at the time they happened, but don't mean much these days. Even for dedicated Holly fans, there are some little-known stories about both his early days and his brief period of fame, and some very astute musical analysis by his cohorts. Particularly interesting are the segments in which it's revealed that the arrangement for "Maybe Baby" was inspired by Little Richard's "Lucille"; that the quirkiness of Allison's drum part in the instrumental break of "That'll Be the Day" is a goof, owing to his belief that they were only doing a demo; that his classic drum part on "Peggy Sue" was partially inspired by the percussion on a pop record by Jaye P. Morgan, "Dawn"; and that the melody for "True Love Ways" was adapted from a gospel recording by the Angelic Gospel Singers, "I'll Be Alright." About the only mild criticisms to offer are that the occasional voiceover narration is a little too dramatic, and that some of the general details of Holly's rise to fame aren't specifically covered, but those are minor drawbacks. The extra features are good as well, including 20 extra minutes of interview material with various of the participants; the complete clips of all three of the songs Holly performed on The Ed Sullivan Show; a sizable booklet with biographical sketches of his musical collaborators; and a "DVD Juke Box" of 14 of his more interesting, lesser-known songs that's more worthwhile than you'd think, as montages of old photos, record sleeves, and memorabilia appear while the tracks play. Every feature of the DVD, in fact, surpasses the expectations rock & roll fans usually have of these documentary projects.