The Crickets • The "Chirping" Crickets

Brunswick/Analogue Productions APP 109
200-gram mono LP
1957/2017

Music

Sound

Buddy Holly • Buddy Holly

Coral/Analogue Productions APP 107
200-gram mono LP
1958/2017

Music

Sound

by Dennis Davis | April 28, 2017

uddy Holly released only three LPs before dying in an airplane crash in 1959 at the age of 22. These two reissues by Analogue Productions are Holly’s only contemporaneous recordings (the third was an archival release of material recorded in 1956). Notwithstanding his short career, Holly's influence on The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, among many others, kept his flame alive. He was in the first class inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, he was at the forefront of the singer/songwriter movement, and he established the composition of rock ensembles for the coming explosion, helping to invent rock'n'roll. His geeky big-glasses look made space for the Roy Orbisons and Elvis Costellos of the music world.

Brunswick and Coral, the labels on which these LPs were originally released, were subsidiaries of Decca Records. Decca reissued Holly’s greatest hits (essentially everything he recorded during his peak years) on the Coral imprint as The Buddy Holly Story, Volume I [CRL 57279] and Volume II [CRL 57326]. Given the timing, those much more common reissues, on the original plum-colored label, are as close to first pressings as most collectors get. Holly’s hits were also mastered anew by Steve Hoffman in 1985 and released as a two-fer LP set [MCA 2-4184]. The Coral reissues and Hoffman remaster are easy to come by on eBay for modest prices, so the choice to purchase these Analogue Productions reissues boils down two considerations: whether you want the music configured as it was first released and whether these LPs sufficiently improve on the sound of earlier releases.

These are both mono recordings, and neither possesses audiophile sound. Of the two, many cuts on the Buddy Holly LP have a more extended frequency range and sound best overall. It was recorded at producer Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico, and a Decca studio in New York City. The "Chirping" Crickets was mostly recorded on the road in Oklahoma at a makeshift studio, or at the Clovis studio. For late-1950s sound, they may not reach the peaks of the best Rudy Van Gelder recordings of the period, but they are still quite good. Both deliver solid, dynamic, stripped-down, in-your-face mono sound that seems appropriate to the material.

Both the Coral and MCA reissues reorganize the songs, and the packaging ranges from safe and solid (Coral) to lightweight and cheesy (MCA). Analogue Productions presents the original running order and artwork, and the covers, from Stoughton Printing, are first-rate. If all of that doesn’t have you reaching for your wallet, then the improvement in sound should. Kevin Gray’s remastering breathes new life into the music, enhancing tonality, dynamics and retrieval of inner detail. The sound of these reissues easily outstrips that of any prior releases.

These are two of the greatest LPs of the rock era and have always been high on my wish list for audiophile reissue. Replete with rock classics -- "Not Fade Away," "Maybe Baby," "That’ll Be The Day," "I’m Lookin’ For Someone To Love," "Peggy Sue," Everyday" and "Words Of Love" -- both offer a non-stop roller-coaster ride of important music that now sounds better than ever.

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