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Pop - Released March 1, 2017 | CTS Digital

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Pop - Released January 1, 1978 | Geffen

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Pop - Released June 21, 2011 | Geffen

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Pop - Released January 1, 1999 | Geffen*

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Pop - Released September 28, 1993 | Geffen

Given the reluctance of MCA to release a CD version of the complete Buddy Holly recordings (due to either legal issues or a skepticism of its commercial worth), the double-disc 1993 set The Buddy Holly Collection stands as the most comprehensive and greatest CD-era retrospective of the legendary rock & roller. Though it contains all the big hits, this is not the place to turn if you're only looking for "That'll Be the Day," "Not Fade Away," "Everyday," "Oh Boy!," "Peggy Sue," "Maybe Baby," "Rave On," "Well All Right," and "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" -- they're all here, but they don't start unrolling until track 15 on the first disc. No, this collection is for listeners who know the hits but need more; namely, they need proof that Holly was one of the greatest, most inventive artists in the first wave of rock & roll, which this collection certainly illustrates, through its selection of lesser-known sides that showcase both his wild-man rockabilly ways and his sensitive songwriting. If the set takes a little while to get going -- it kicks off with the dynamite "Down the Line," but then the collection, and Holly, take a little while to find a groove -- there are also no bum tracks here, and taken as a whole, Buddy's gifts as a songwriter and a rocker are staggering. Until the complete box is finally issued on CD, this will have to stand as the most comprehensive Holly collection on CD, and as such, it's absolutely necessary for anybody who loves American music of the 20th century. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released May 18, 1964 | Geffen

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Pop - Released February 3, 1999 | Geffen

Like any record company worth their salt, MCA knows a good gimmick when they see it, and when the millennium came around...well, the 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection wasn't too far behind. Supposedly, the millennium is a momentous occasion, but it's hard to feel that way when it's used as another excuse to turn out a budget-line series. But apart from the presumptuous title, 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection turns out to be a very good budget-line series. True, it's impossible for any of these brief collections to be definitive, but they're nevertheless solid samplers that don't feature a bad song in the bunch. For example, take Buddy Holly's 20th Century volume -- it's an irresistible 12-song summary of his Decca/MCA recordings. There may be a couple of noteworthy songs missing, but many of his best-known songs for the label are here, including "That'll Be the Day," "Words of Love," "Peggy Sue," "Everyday," "Not Fade Away," "Maybe Baby," "Oh Boy!," "It's So Easy," "Rave On," "True Love Ways," "Think It Over," and "It Doesn't Matter Any More." Serious fans will want something more extensive, but this is an excellent introduction for neophytes and a great sampler for casual fans, considering its length and price. That doesn't erase the ridiculousness of the series title, but the silliness is excusable when the music and the collections are good. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 1983 | Geffen

When this album was originally released in 1983, it was a major revelation in collector's circles. Here were the original, undubbed versions of eight songs that had appeared on posthumous Holly albums like Reminiscing, Showcase, and others with overdubbed backing provided by the Fireballs and producer Norman Petty, along with two rarities to pad things out. And hearing the stripped-down Holly minus the audio cover-ups and beef-ups revealed strong (and sometimes superior) efforts all by themselves without the assistance. With future Cricket Jerry Allison on drums, a set of revolving bass players, and Sonny Curtis handling lead guitar chores on three tracks, Holly blasts through some bona fide Texas rockabilly here. Four of the eight tracks come from Buddy's pen, and these early efforts ("Rock-a-Bye Rock," "Because I Love You," "Changing All Those Changes," and "I'm Gonna Set My Foot Down") are sign pointers toward his later, more commercial style; in this case listeners get stripped-down, elemental pop tunes disguised as rockabilly ravers and country ballads. The collection is bookended with two more tracks, the original studio swipe of "Maybe Baby" and "That's My Desire," a ballad from the 1958 New York session that produced "Rave On." Although the overdubbing done to Holly's music made sense from a commercial standpoint at the time, this collection only whets your appetite to hear more of the real thing. ~ Cub Koda
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Rock - Released February 3, 1999 | Geffen

When Buddy Holly & the Crickets broke through nationally in 1957, they were marketed by Decca Records as two different acts whose records were released on two different Decca subsidiaries -- Brunswick for Crickets records, Coral for Holly records. But there was no real musical distinction between the two, except perhaps that the "Crickets" sides had more prominent backup vocals. Nevertheless, coming three months after The "Chirping" Crickets, this was the debut album credited to Buddy Holly. It featured Holly's Top Ten single "Peggy Sue" plus several songs that have turned out to be standards: "I'm Gonna Love You Too," "Listen to Me," "Everyday," "Words of Love," and "Rave On." The rest of the 12 tracks weren't as distinctive, though Holly's takes on such rock & roll hits as "Ready Teddy" and "You're So Square (Baby I Don't Care)" provide an interesting contrast with the more familiar versions by Elvis Presley. This was the final new album featuring Holly to be released during his lifetime. Every subsequent album was an archival or posthumous collection. ~ William Ruhlmann

Miscellaneous - Released September 20, 2013 | SendMusic

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Pop - Released September 24, 1996 | Geffen

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Pop - Released January 1, 1969 | Geffen

Giant marked the tail end of the pre-revival Buddy Holly posthumous LPs -- that is, it was the last album issued before the general public began developing a special awareness of Buddy Holly and his music. It's also a very frustrating album and the release that divides more of his fans than any other record associated with him; on the one hand, it's described by many critics as little better than a bootleg and an example of grave-robbing in progress, as it consists of demos and song fragments heavily redubbed and re-edited into complete songs by Norman Petty; to make matters worse, none of the sides here except for the instrumental "Holly Hop" are originals -- everything else is a cover of songs written by or associated with Fats Domino, Little Richard, and the like. On the other hand, Giant is a fun album, if not quite a good one; it's nowhere near as important as any of Holly's official releases in his lifetime or as edifying as his sides as part of Buddy & Bob (released on Holly in the Hills), some of the overdubbing is a good distance away from what we can figure Holly would have allowed or done himself, and none of it would or could rate a place on a best-of Buddy Holly, but it's still difficult to complain about most of this album, based on it as a listening experience; while not defending the specific choices made, nor the process or the practice behind it, can anyone imagine ten outtakes or song fragments from Bill Haley or Chuck Berry from the same era coming out this well? Or ten fragmentary, mostly unfinished songs by the Beatles showing up this way and sounding so good (then again, listeners did get that around the same time -- it's called Let It Be)? The renditions (one hesitates to call them Holly's renditions) of "Ain't Got No Home," "Good Rockin' Tonight," "Love Is Strange," "Slippin' and Slidin'," "Blue Monday," and "(Ummm. Oh Yeah) Dearest" make this album worth hearing, even for purists. ~ Bruce Eder
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Rock - Released November 16, 2018 | Decca (UMO) (Classics)

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Rock - Released January 1, 1965 | Geffen

On its face, Holly in the Hills was seemingly one of the more artistically dubious Buddy Holly albums to appear posthumously. Built around Holly's pre-Crickets recordings circa 1955, as part of the duo of Buddy & Bob, the familiar Holly voice is present and easy to appreciate, though he's sharing the spotlight with Bob Montgomery and doing a repertory that's steeped thoroughly in country music, complete with fiddle accompaniment ("Baby It's Love," "I Gambled My Heart"). Holly was beginning to discover rock & roll and work out a sound of his own, as demonstrated by some of the cuts here, but he was still a country artist and doing a lot of ballads in that idiom as well. Apart from "I Wanna Play House With You," "Wishing," and "Down the Line" -- and as it happens, those three are killer tracks, worth the price of the album -- little here resembles the sound that Holly subsequently became known for. All of it, however, is fine music, occupying a place in Holly's career to what the Everly Brothers' early Columbia sides represent in their history (though it is far more sophisticated than the Everlys' sides). The presence of the Fireballs, a band managed and produced by producer Norman Petty, on several of the tracks, does bring the material up to a modern standard (circa 1965), and it's easy to see why this record sold well, especially in England, where it rode the charts for six weeks and just missed the Top Ten. Holly in the Hills does represent a formative and legitimate component of Holly's music, which is perfectly valid, and he does amazingly well in tandem with Montgomery on numbers like "Queen of the Ballroom" and "Soft Place in My Heart" -- had rock & roll not come along, it would be easy to see these Buddy & Bob sides having opened a career in country music for the two of them that could easily have carried them into the 1960s before a very different audience from the one Holly actually ended up finding. ~ Bruce Eder
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Rock - Released November 16, 2018 | Decca (UMO) (Classics)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | Geffen

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Pop - Released January 1, 2012 | Verve Reissues

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Rock - Released September 14, 1967 | Geffen

Pop - Released March 25, 2016 | Westmill

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Pop - Released January 14, 2008 | Geffen

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Buddy Holly in the magazine
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