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Great Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly
Great Buddy Holly
Genres: Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1

Originally released as That'll Be the Day, The Great Buddy Holly does indeed boast that landmark Holly hit, as well as nine other tracks of lesser import, notably "Modern Don Juan" and "Rock Around with Ollie Vee." On the ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Buddy Holly
Title: Great Buddy Holly
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Mca Special Products
Original Release Date: 11/3/1994
Re-Release Date: 1/1/1995
Album Type: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
Genres: Pop, Rock
Styles: Oldies, Oldies & Retro
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 076731103723, 076732073742

Originally released as That'll Be the Day, The Great Buddy Holly does indeed boast that landmark Holly hit, as well as nine other tracks of lesser import, notably "Modern Don Juan" and "Rock Around with Ollie Vee." On the downside, this 1958 collection is on the skimpy side (we're talking 10 songs, none over two and one-half minutes long). Still, this is one of the bedrock rockers of all time, so those who are building a Buddy Holly collection will want to pick it up sooner or later. Noncollectors have plenty of superior options, The Buddy Holly Collection providing a particularly brisk jumping-off point. --Steven Stolder

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CD Reviews

Mark | Santa Monica, CA | 02/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

These are of course the sessions Holly cut for Decca in Nashvile in 1956.

As a record buyer I've sort of followed the strange wandering persistance of "The Great Buddy Holly" over the years, so for anyone who has ever wondered about it...

(1) Holly made these tracks in Nashville, mostly with Lubbuck musicians Jerry Allson, Sonny Curtis, and Larry Welborn. Holly/Allison co-wrote `That'll Be the Day' and initially recorded it at that time.

(2) Decca dropped Holly's contract after two failed singles and shelved everything else. Holly and Allison strongly believed in `That'll Be the Day', but Decca declined to release another single -- and Holly was forbidden by contract to re-record his Decca session material elsewhere for two years.

(3) Holly and Allison re-recorded `That'll be the Day' at Norman Petty's studio in Clovis, New Mexico. They evaded the Decca prohibition by releasing it under the name "The Crickets" on Brunswick. (Joe B. Mauldin and Nikki Sullivan were quickly recruited to fill out the quartet, but had not participated in this first recording or its flip side.)

(4) The Brunswick release took off in late summer of 1957. Nashville hastily issued its version by "Buddy Holly" as a Decca single. For probably the only time in music history, an artist was up against his own cover on the charts. The Crickets on Brunswick beat out Buddy Holly on Decca (and still another cover by the Ravens) to achieve a million seller.

(5) Decca released the rest of Holly's Nashville sessions as the album "Buddy Holly - That'll Be the Day" the following year. Its cover photo of Holly is cropped from a group shot of the Crickets and pasted over a painting of Southwest desert. This album fared little better than their single, and languished in the Decca catalogue as a special order item.

(6) MCA Records acquired Decca around 1970, including its Nashville division and the New York subsidiary labels Brunswick and Coral - in effect, the entire Holly catalogue. (But had no special interest in Holly.)

(7) Back then various budget labels sold albums in drug store racks for about 99 cents. Most were junk, though occasionally you could strike astonishing pay dirt (e.g., Ritchie Valens' then-unreleased rehearsal tapes mislabeled as his hits).

MCA's budget label Vocalion wanted a Holly album in their catalogue, but MCA did not want to give away anything valuable. The obscure Decca album, with its version of a major hit, fit the bill. `Ting-A-Ling' was cut to bring it down to the 10 track Vocalion format. Its cover is a water color of Holly with Stratocaster from a full page photo in the 1966 Coral double album "Best of Buddy Holly". The original back cover was a small print listing of the Vocalion catalogue, and looked like a page from a telephone directory.

Retitled "The Great Buddy Holly," it sold for $1.98.

(8) This cheap ploy to hustle a quick buck blew up in MCA's faces. Somehow a copy of the album found its way to Rolling Stone magazine, where apparently no one had heard these tracks before. They loved it. A rave review in Rolling Stone plus the $1.98 price tag sent it flying off drug store racks.

(9) MCA was appalled, as they had not intended to give away something of actual commercial value. Faced with steady sales, they eventually took action - upgrading the album to the MCA label at full retail price.

They had to come up with a minimal back cover to replace the Vocalion catalogue list, but neglected to restore `Ting-A-Ling', banishing that track (in the USA) to rockabilly heaven.

(10) When Compact Disks were introduced, this was among the first of the Holly titles in the new format - again at full retail price.

(11) Eventually it was lowered a notch to the "Best Buy" status.

* * *

Well, a brief review...

What always bothered me about this album was the misrepresentation. That striking cover and bold title give promise of a "Best of" or "Greatest Hits" compilation. I'm sure a lot of people who had heard of Holly, but didn't really know his music, picked this up as a cheap sampler. Such buyers have a total misconception of his career.

While the Nashville sessions are every bit what other reviewers here say of them, they are not "typical" Holly and not the recordings that made him famous. They are totally different in style and content from his work as a major star on Brunswick/Coral. These tracks are a valuable part of his legacy, but only when labeled as what they are - pre-stardom 1956 Nashville sessions.

That having been said...

The sound quality on this CD is excellent. As an album it is one track short of a full deck. The "full deck" album is again available under its original Decca title, "Buddy Holly - That'll Be The Day" (BGO's double album "Remember/ That'll Be the Day" [B00006CY63] is nice). There is even a "loaded deck" version with alternate takes now on MCA [BOOOO4DTPG]. .

"The Great Buddy Holly" was a mistake that refuses to go away because it persists in selling. It has almost certainly "moved more units" (as they say) than the complete Decca version. And that's sort of the corporate bottom line...

What a great title -- what a great cover! If only it could be used honestly to package the Brunswick/Coral tracks Holly was recording when that photo was taken."
A Rockabilly classic
Jacobus T. Boot | Perth, Western Australia | 02/27/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

""The Great Buddy Holly" is the re-release of the original Decca recordings made in Nashville at the very start of Buddy Holly's Rock'N'Roll career which (together will "Ting-a-ling" which has been omitted here for some unknown reason) was originally released as an album titled "That'll Be The Day" at a time calculated to cash in on the success of the (later) hit version of the song. It includes the highs and lows of the Decca sessions which were a stumbling block early on for Buddy. The sessions were however important as they convinced Buddy that he needed control of his music as amply demonstrated by the early version of 'That'll Be The Day' compared to the hit version arranged and produced by Holly himself with Norman Petty.The CD contains Rockabilly classics such as 'Blue Days-Black Nights' 'Rock Around With Ollie Vee' and 'Midnight Shift' and is worth the cost for these tracks alone.There are a number of 'filler' tracks on the album of lesser quality however these should not be dismissed out of hand as they form part of the learning process. 'Modern Don Juan' 'Love Me' and 'I'm Changing All Those Changes' are fun and appealing tracks in their own way and, although not up to the standard of the Rockabilly tracks, are still substantially better than the 'hit' records of some of Buddy's peers.Again, well worth the money and a must for any Buddy Holly fan."
This CD is a must for R&R enthusiast.
Rayner ( | Australia | 11/22/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am a great fan of the R&R era, and Buddy Holly was one of the best.This CD has some of his best recordings on it and I strongly recommend it to all you R&R fans."