Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Buddy Holly

  • 20 Golden Greats [MCA, 1978]
  • For the First Time Anywhere [MCA, 1983] B+
  • The Buddy Holly Collection [MCA, 1993] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

20 Golden Greats [MCA, 1978]
[CG70s: A Basic Record Library; CG80: Rock Library: Before 1980]

For the First Time Anywhere [MCA, 1983]
If like me you were crying, waiting, hoping, or just wishing for new songs, dream on--other versions of the five originals and five covers are already familiar to owners of the six-disc Complete Buddy Holly import, most of whom bought this the week it was released. Those who've settled for 20 Golden Greats will greatly enjoy meeting the originals, especially since they sound much stronger in these recordings. And now here's wishing I could say the same for the covers--Holly rejected "That's My Desire" because it was a dog, and if the new "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man" is competitive with the one you know, the new "Bo Diddley" isn't. B+

The Buddy Holly Collection [MCA, 1993]
Finally a compilation format suitable to a minor genius whose achievement seems permanently shrouded in myth: neither 20 astonishing hits nor every hiccup and fingerpick he ever committed to tape, just 50 songs running barely an hour and three-quarters. Even these tracks vary considerably in quality, held together like so much classic pop by the aural glue of an identifiable sound and style--the signature of a miniaturist who till the day he died was comfortable with a radio that preferred two-minute ditties to three-minute extravaganzas, and who found untold emotional and rhythmic nuance within the constriction. He was no nerd, but nerds loved him for a reason: he played by the rules without letting them stop him. A

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