Various Artists: Listen to Me: A Tribute to Buddy Holly

Listen to Me: A Tribute to Buddy Holly was released so shortly after the Rave On Buddy Holly that it got lost in the shuffle of my review folder last year. Even months later, Listen to Me still suffers by comparison to the other Buddy Holly tribute. This is at least in part due to what seems to be a bit of a musical identity crisis – some truly great folk and rockabilly moments are lost betwixt bland pop covers and random classic rock. It’s good enough to bother reviewing, but had the potential to be so much better.

The opening cover of “Not Fade Away” by Stevie Nicks can’t hold a candle to Florence & The Machine’s wailing, quaking rendition on Rave On Buddy Holly, but it is nonetheless endearingly peppy and handclappy.

Imelda May‘s brassed up, punk meets rockabilly take on “Lookin’ for Someone to Love” and Linda Rhondstadt’s classic 1976 cover of “That’ll Be The Day” are highlights.

The stand out track is a beautiful piano and vioin rendering of “Learning the Game” by Natalie Merchant.

Fall Out Boy singer, Patrick Stump, gives a surprisingly gentle and melodic version of “Everyday,” but I was disappointed with Zooey Deschanel‘s “It’s So Easy.” I usually love anything she sings, but this particular arrangement weighs her voice down.

The humorous spoken word “Raining in My Heart” by Monty Python’s Eric Idle is the tribute’s bizarre finale. Otherwise, this is a very safe, adult contemporary collection of Buddy Holly covers. Which isn’t a bad thing, just nothing to get excited about.

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Tribute Official Site

Various Artists: Rave On Buddy Holly

Rave On Buddy Holly will be released on June 28th and you can stream the album in its entirety below. With a cast of superstar singers like Florence + The Machine, Fiona Apple, Patti Smith, She & Him and Lou Reed, I’m not at all surprised that I love this new tribute to rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Buddy Holly.

First, the spectacular: I would’ve written this review much sooner had I not been listening to Florence + The Machine‘s cover of “Not Fade Away” on repeat. The Machine saves Buddy Holly’s trademark quirks for their clanging, banging-industrial-sized-pots-and-pans arrangement, allowing lead singer Florence Welch to unleash all the unearthly wails and gorgeous vibratto of her magnificent voice.

Fiona Apple and Jon Brion opt for a simpler, splendidly tinkling, truer-to-original rendition of “Everyday.” Who knew Fiona Apple was a folk singer?

Nevermind that, who knew that Kid Rock was a soul singer? I do now thanks to his wonderfully brassed up cover of “Well…All Right.” He needs to drop the country-rap stuff and collaborate with Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears.

Julian Casanblancas’ moody “Rave On,” Jenny O.’s cooing “I’m Gonna Love You, Too,” She & Him’s retro dance party “Oh Boy!,” and the legendary Patti Smith’s soulful rendering of “Words of Love” are also stand outs.

Elsewhere, Cee Lo Green reminds me why I loved Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” but couldn’t stomach his tepid new solo pop album. Cee Lo’s unusual pipes can be so powerful, but he requires an interesting and solid arrangement to bring out the best in his voice. The Caribbean chimes and percussion of “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” is the perfect song for him.

Other highlights on the tribute include Karen Elson’s “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” (featuring Elson’s husband Jack White), Nick Lowe’s “Changing All The Changes,” My Morning Jacket’s “True Love Ways” and The Detroit Cobras’ “Heartbeat.”

But, ugh, Modest Mouse’s dreary, deadpan “That’ll Be The Day” reminds me why I always referred to that surge of irksome, post-Death Cab “indie-rock” boy bands as “mouse rock.” It’s the only track on the album I skip every time.

Rave On Buddy Holly gives a solid finish, however, with a trio of covers by Lou Reed, John Doe and Graham Nash.

Rave On Buddy Holly by concordmusicgroup

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