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Various Artists

Not Fade Away (Remembering Buddy Holly) – 1996 (MCA)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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This tribute to a man whose influence far outweighs his chart success features a cast which obviously was not assembled for commercial clout. That's a promising sign for the music lover. But the disc gets off to a frightening start; an original Holly vocal given a dreadfully inappropriate backing track by British group The Hollies. Needing a shot in the arm, the album instead wastes a lovely but languid version of "True Love Ways" by The Mavericks, which would have worked much better later on the disc. Surprisingly, it's Nanci Griffith who finally gets things moving; the normally soporific chirper displays an unexpected flair for twangy rock 'n roll.

But the best tracks kick off the second half. Mary-Chapin Carpenter does a delightful duet on "Wishing" with Kevin Montgomery (the son of Holly's original duet partner and co-writer). Joe Ely is in vintage rocking form on "Oh Boy"; (Todd Snider is along for the ride, but this is Ely's track and it's a reminder of how great he is capable of being.) Marty Stuart and Steve Earle then dazzle on "Crying, Waiting, Hoping." The combination of Suzy Bogguss and Dave Edmunds also works very well. The other tracks are solid to varying degrees, and overall the album rates as a big winner.