Buddy Holly Raves On Into 21st Century

Lonesome Onry and Mean's buddy doesn't like the new tribute to Buddy Holly, Rave On, which features a major-league lineup of artists ranging from Sir Paul McCartney, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, and Graham Nash to youngsters like Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket, Black Keys and the unlikely inclusion of Cee-Lo Green.

Our buddy's complaint? "No one can do Buddy Holly songs as well as Buddy Holly," he pontificates. "And these versions are trying so hard to be different than the originals, it's just like what's the point?"

Realize LOM's buddy also hates metal bats, the American League, college sports events and probably hot dogs, baseball, and apple pie.

Lonesome, Onry and Mean, on the other hand, grew up just 130 miles south of Holly's hometown of Lubbock, and was nine years old when the 22-year-old singer's plane plunged into a frozen Iowa field in February 1959. Who's to say whether Holly rather than Elvis Presley might have reigned as King had he lived? What we do know is that in West Texas we worshipped Holly like a deity.

And indeed it is inarguable that, as a composer, even at his tender age Holly was one of the Zen masters of the nascent genre known as power-pop. His music influenced everyone, the Beatles, the Stones, Rockpile and almost anyone who's ever been in a recording studio and called themselves a rock band.

And while it might seem that our devotion to Holly might cause us to agree with our curmudgeonly compadre, we in fact quite like Rave On. We like it for the attempts to deconstruct and reconstruct some of Holly's most popular tunes.

Some highlights:

McCartney's version of the ever-popular "It's So Easy" is so over the top in a "Rocky Raccoon" way that the tune becomes a goof. But it's an entirely bearable goof, even when Sir Paul breaks into cornball Southern jive talk.

Cee-Lo Green only needs 93 seconds to smoke "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care." The man is such a natural rock and roller.

Lou Reed and John Doe give interesting interpretations of "Peggy Sue" and "Peggy Sue Got Married" in back-to-back slots. The juxtaposition is near perfect.

Another nice pairing is My Morning Jacket ("True Love Ways") and Modest Mouse ("That'll Be The Day"). Both bands find new depth in these old chestnuts.

We also have to give props to battle-scarred veteran Nick Lowe for "Changing All Those Changes," Kid Rock's Detroit-soulman take of "Well All Right," and Julian Casablancas' muscular rendition of the title track.

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But the standout track for us is "Maybe Baby" by Justin Townes Earle, who finds all of the joy and rhythm that made Holly's music so palatable to so many.

So if you're a Holly purist, Rave On may not be for you. But to LOM's ears, the album's many and varied reinterpretations make it a suite of music that is going to stick with us for quite some time.

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