ALBUM TITLE: The “Chirping” Crickets
ARTIST NAME: The Crickets
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1957
Holly: Not Fade Away
Kelly: Not Fade Away
The “Chirping” Crickets was recorded from February through September of 1957 and released in November of that year as the Crickets’ debut album. It was the only album released while Buddy Holly was alive, and was re-released in 1962 as “Buddy Holly and the Crickets”, and re-re-released in 2004 with bonus tracks.
The album featured songs written by Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, and band mates Joe Mauldin and Jerry Allison.
Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holly was born September 7, 1936 in Lubbock, Texas. Buddy grew up one of four children into a family that had interest in music, and the brothers would perform in local talent shows. By his early adolescence he was taking piano lessons but then switched to guitar after he saw a classmate playing it on the bus. But he was influenced by local musicians as well as more famous one such as Hank Williams Hank snow and the Carter family and would listen to radio program such as the grand old Opry. He started pairing up with other musicians from his high school including future bandmates sunnies Kurtis and Jerry Alison. After graduating high school but he decided that he wanted to pursue a career in music full-time. He was influenced by seeing Elvis Presley perform locally and was starting to put together his own band with standup bass and drums and started to lean more towards rock ‘n’ roll and less towards the more present pervasive country sound. In October 2019 55 buddy Holly and his band we’re booked to open for Bill Haley and his comments in Nashville and they were soon signed by Decca Records in 1956. In January 2019 56 but he attended his first recording session with a producer but became frustrated due to lack of creative control. Buddy was disillusioned with his time with Decca but was still inspired to create music and was continuing to draw influence from other musicians at the time, including Buddy Knox. He got together with Norman Petty, who had produced Buddy Knox’s hit Party Doll and joined with Jerry Allison, guitarist Niki Sullivan and bassist Joe Mauldin and went to Norman Petty’s studio in New Mexico. They recorded the demo of That’ll Be the Day, a track that Holly had previously recorded during his time in Nashville. Unfortunately he was still under contract with Decca and could not release the record under his name so they used the band’s name, the Crickets. Buddy got a basic recording agreement that allowed him both artistic and financial control of all of his future recordings. The executives at Brunswick records were very impressed with That’ll Be the Day and had the Crickets record some more tracks for them. The band started getting more and more traction and were booked to play a stint at the Apollo theatre, and by the end of the run That’ll Be the Day was climbing the charts. Buddy and the Crickets continued to record and release music until Buddy split from the band in 1958 after his final recording session (where he recorded one of my all-time favourites True Love Ways). Holly continued touring until February 3, 1959 a day that will live in infamy. Also known as the day the music died, Holly, along with fellow musicians Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper all died when their airplane went down and crashed into a frozen corn field outside of Mason City, Iowa. Buddy was 22 years old.
The original and correct spelling of Buddy’s last name is Holley, but in his contract with Decca they spelled it as Holly, so Buddy went with the incorrect spelling from there on out.
Holly decided to get horn rimmed glasses, as it was a style made popular by Steve Allen at the time. They were later known as “Buddy Holly glasses”.
Well, this is impossible. I think Buddy Holly is probably the first musician I was aware of, he was the first musician whose songs I knew super well, and this album is imprinted in some permanent way in my psyche. It was incredibly hard to choose a favourite track on this album because Buddy Holly’s whole discography is kind of one entity in my mind. I tried really hard to objectively listen to this album, and here’s what I’ve come up with.
First, the band is really tight. The balance is great, the drums, guitar, and bass all communicate super well, and Buddy Holly’s voice is UNIQUE. It’s clear, strong, energetic, playful, just all of those things. Thinking about it, I feel that the only thing that makes this album sound at all dated would be the background vocals. Something about their tone or their vowels or something really places this in an era. I ended up choosing Not Fade Away as my favourite track because I think that’s the track I had the most visceral reaction to when I heard it. It’s also pretty inventive with play between the guitar and the background vocals and the fact that the snare is off on the snare drum the whole song, which gives a playful and different feel to the song. It’s also a tempo that’s hard to pull off and still sound energetic.
So, in conclusion, I can’t actually listen to this album objectively at all. I love Buddy Holly and always will. A few years ago I was actually in Lubbock, Texas, Buddy Holly’s birthplace and got to go to the Buddy Holly museum. It was a great experience (See picture below). If you’ve never heard of Buddy Holly, go seek out his music. He’s worth knowing, and this album is so close to perfect.
How on earth am I supposed to objectively critique an album by the man who almost single handedly sparked my wildfire love of music as a small child? I call Buddy Holly my “first love” of music, and to this day I listen to him with a profound love and fondness. His music was so ubiquitous in our household, and I think the tragic brevity of his life is what helped shape my love of stories with ambiguous or sad endings. I have so much to say and so many competing thoughts about this album that I’m having trouble organizing what I want to say. It’s the first time I’ve had to sit down and analyze the songs and the music, which is difficult because just hearing Buddy’s full, southern, personable voice stirs up visceral emotions. Anyway, lucky for me, I got to pull his album off my shelf and listen to it on my turntable rather than on youtube as we normally do! This is my first album and song review where I actually own the album itself. And it’s on cool yellow vinyl, so that’s neat too!
What I obviously didn’t and couldn’t know as a child listening to this album is how ahead of its time, how interesting and diverse the rhythm and the melodies are from the standard fare of the time, and how Buddy Holly would be so incredibly influential and set the trajectory for modern rock music. Musically, throughout the whole album the band is tight, the levels sound good, the vocals are all in tune. There seems to be a basic guitar solo that gets plunked in the middle of some of the songs, but what people don’t realize is this was one of the first times people were seeing a Fender Stratocaster, a guitar that would become so ubiquitous in rock music. Now for the songs themselves- let’s start with the first track, Oh Boy. What a way to kick in the door on the album! It’s so high energy Buddy Holly sounds like a firecracker just ready to explode onto this record, and those drums are pretty hard for 1957. The background vocals tread into doo wop territory, which as we all know, I love. The next track is my favourite of the album, Not Fade Away. I just think it’s so interesting rhythmically, and the drums are…a cardboard box? I know they used a box for percussion on Peggy Sue, and it sure sounds like they did it here too. Also adding to the percussion is the “bop, bop, bop bop” from the backing vocals. These add like a combo auxiliary percussion and horn section. Other close seconds for favourite song on the album include Maybe Baby, That’ll Be the Day (Buddy Holly got the name from a John Wayne movie), and Last Night. Tell Me How is also really good – Buddy’s voice is general in the nasal area, but he has this great, brooding darker tone that he brings in sometimes, and you can hear that on Tell Me How (you can also hear it on It Doesn’t Matter Anymore, different album).
It’s weird to think that this is Buddy and the Crickets’ debut album of only 3 studio albums that Buddy would release in his incredibly short life – and this was released in 1957 – he died 2 years later. His influence would extend to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Elton John, just to mention some heavy hitters. I think a great way to judge music is the gauge how it makes you feel and effects your mood, and talking about this album, putting these words down and revisiting the songs and Buddy’s story has made me INCREDIBLY emotional. Buddy Holly helped make me the woman I am today. And my tears speak for themselves.
Average grade out of 10:
Link to the album on Spotify: