Buddy Holly died at the tender age of 22. In those 22 years, Holly amassed a career that got him elected to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, got him named #13 on Rolling Stones’ “The Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time,” and got him several tribute albums. The latest tribute album is Listen to Me: Buddy Holly.
Holly died in 1959 which means that many modern artists are not directly influenced by him. That is why older artists like Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Jackson Browne, Chris Isaak, Linda Ronstadt, Lyle Lovett, and Natalie Merchant all appear on Listen to Me. Unsurprisingly these seasoned veterans turn out some of the best performances of the album. Especially of note is Stevie Nicks‘ album opening cover of “Not Fade Away.” She perfectly encapsulates the 1950s pop aspects of Holly’s sound while incorporating bluesy slide guitar to give the song a little edge. It shows how Holly’s sound transcends time and genre.
To continue to show Holly’s transcendence, the album includes some more modern artists. Artists like Pat Monahan, Cobra Starship, The Fray, and Patrick Stump try their hand at Holly’s songs. Needless to say these songs are not nearly as successful. Most insufferable is Cobra Starship’s handling of the Holly classic “Peggy Sue.” Having to listen to Gabe Saporta hamhandedly attempt to sing in the style of Buddy Holly is incredibly painful.
Luckily not much on the album quite compares to the pain that is brought about by Cobra Starship. Most of the album is well done and tasteful. The oddest moment of the album is Eric Idle’s handling “Raining In My Heart.” The Monty Python cast member starts the song off as a spoken word track and slowly it evolves into a ragtime Weird Al-esque jaunt. It is an amusing closing note for the incredibly eclectic tribute album.