REVIEW: Buddy Holly – 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of

Happy birthday David. You were a fan, this is for you.

BUDDY_0001BUDDY HOLLY – 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of Buddy Holly (1999 MCA)

Normally I rank all of these 20th Century Masters CDs as 2 stars across the board. That’s mainly because I am a believer in buying the albums, not the greatest hits.  With an artist like Buddy Holly, it’s much less about albums and more about his singles.  For Buddy I prefer compilations.  20th Century Masters are budget priced, limited to 10-12 songs, and brief running times.  In this case I think it’s worth spending money on.

This one is pretty near-perfect for a quick starter set. Every song is amazing, not a weak one in the bunch. From “Not Fade Away” to “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”, and of course the classic “Everyday”, this is a CD to listen to start-to-finish with nothing to skip.  “Words of Love” is still a masterpiece, using the then-new technique of double tracking the lead vocal.  It still sounds full, deep and perfect.

Meanwhile, “Oh, Boy!” is full of joie de vivre, Buddy leading the charge gleefully.  “Rave On” is very much in the same mold, completely memorable and toe-tapping.  “Think It Over”, by Buddy and the Crickets is an old fashioned rock and roll song with a nice big grand piano, completely fun.  The CD closes with “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”, a Paul Anka song featuring Buddy backed by orchestra and acoustic guitar.  It’s just one of the greatest songs ever written, period.

There are better and more complete compilations out there, but not at the price that this series sells for. Buy this first, check out some Buddy Holly, and once you’ve digested these songs, move onto the bigger picture. I think new music is more easily digested in small packages and this is the best way to go if you are new to Buddy Holly.

5/5 stars all the way, I still listen to this all the time.

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90 comments

  1. It’s amazing what he put out before passing away at age 22 – “The chirping crickets” is on the 1001 list and I quite enjoyed it.
    Love the short & sweet running times and I’d imagine the guitar lick from ‘that’ll be the day’ would be a smart way to hook listeners from the album’s first note.
    My daughter’s name is Holly & some friends call her Buddy Holly, so that only adds to the original Buddy Holly’s appeal for me!

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  2. I definitely have a building interest in the early Rock N’ Roll stuff so I’ll be keeping this one in mind. I’ve always though Holly would be too smooth for my taste but I might be wrong about that? I totally agree with you about these artists being more about singles too.

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    1. Do you have the movie, American Grafitti? I can’t think of a better way to get a taste for these oldies.

      Holly does have some smooth, smooth ballads and love songs, but it’s amazing how quickly they appealed to me. I’m a rocker too. Obviously I was gonna love stuff like “Not Fade Away” but even stuff like “Words of Love”…Buddy’s integrity shines through. He was an incredible songwriter.

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      1. Not seen that but you reviewed it didn’t you? I’ll keep an eye out for it on DVD.

        I’ve really enjoyed the Little Richard and Chuck Berry stuff I’ve got but not really known where to go next… might have to try out some Buddy!

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        1. I think it’s a good idea.

          I have not reviewed American Graffiti yet but it’s a 5/5 star movie. Lucas at his very best. Young Dreyfuss, just a kid. Ronnie Howard, Harrison Ford, the real Wolfman Jack, and a buttload of sweet, sweet cars and music.

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  3. Daddy had me rocking to those songs from my earliest memory using a cassette called Buddy Holly Lives – a great musical spirit.

    Happy Birthday Daddy – we’ll have a few wings in your honour today.

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  4. These collections are nice, but Buddy’s output is consistently great and worth exploring beyond just 12 tracks. For years the go-to collection was a 2-CD set (The Buddy Holly Collection), but I’m a big enough fan to also have the 1979 “Complete Buddy Holly” box set (on 6 cassettes…it was never reissued on CD) as well as the incredible 2009 6-CD set, Not Fade Away: The Complete Studio Recordings And More. I listened to that one straight through three times in a row…that’s how good it is.

    Then again, when it comes to early rock ‘n roll, I only have single-disc collections of several key artists (Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran) and a 2-disc Jerry Lee Lewis anthology, so I’m sure there are fans who would insist I explore those catalogs more deeply. I’m a huge Elvis fan, though, with at least 30 disc of his music.

    Another great post, Mike, on one of my favorite artists. Well done.

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    1. Hope you don’t mind me leaping in to pick your brains Rich? Where would I start with Elvis if I wanted to get some of his stuff? Is there a particularly good collection or album to start with? I especially liked his comeback special acoustic performance if that helps!

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      1. For me, the best initial Elvis purchases are the three 5-CD box sets on RCA/BMG, each one covering a different decade. I realize that’s a tall order, but I’m wondering if those aren’t as expensive as they used to be. Those are the basis of my Elvis collection, and from there I’ve also gotten a number of live recordings from the ’70s (my favorite era of his career, with that amazing band) as well as a 2-CD collection of his soundtrack recordings and another 2-CD set of his gospel recordings. I also recently got the 3-CD box set of “Elvis At Stax” which is excellent but likely more than a casual fan needs. There are probably some shorter (and cheaper) collections of the different eras of his career to be found, but since I have those box sets I’ve never felt the need to search for them. I will say to avoid any Elvis CDs pressed before the mid-90s. Prior to that they used really bad noise-reducing technology that removed hiss as well as all the high-end. Later remasters sound so much better.

        Not sure where I would recommend you going based on your appreciation of the acoustic segment of the ’68 Comeback Special, but “Elvis – That’s The Way It Is” (in any format) is a great listening & viewing experience. It’s his first steps after the Comeback Special, prior to the jumpsuits & over-the-top theatrics that started around 1972 (which I love, but many people find ridiculous).

        Sorry I couldn’t be of more help, but Elvis’ catalog is so sprawling and there have been so many releases & re-releases that it’s hard to keep track of (and I’m not an obsessive fan…just a passionate one).

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      2. HMO I only own one Elvis CD, but it is the 30 #1’s. And it is AWESOME. It doesn’t have the variety that the box sets Rich is talking about have, but it’s great for a single play.

        Those box sets Rich has were hard to find complete. They came with postage stamps and stuff, and most people didn’t seem to keep those.

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        1. Those #1’s collections are nice but they only scratch the surface of artists like Elvis or The Beatles. By focusing on songs that hit #1 they really limit themselves, and in Elvis’ case most of my favorite songs of his were not #1. That being said, it’s a great place to dip your toes into the water, and then there are others that let you dive into the deep end.

          I’ll never understand why people get rid (or lose) certain inserts, especially in box sets. I always keep every element of the original packaging. The only exception was one of the Frank Zappa “Beat The Boots” box sets that came with a t-shirt. I wore it until it basically fell apart, and when I unloaded the set years later (for a very nice profit) the missing shirt (which I clearly indicated was missing) was not a deterrent to finding a buyer. But something like those replica postage stamps in the Elvis box sets…what were people doing with them? Just keep ’em in the box.

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        2. I have worn my Tragically Hip shirt, from special package, a lot! But to me that doesn’t count, it was kind of a retail exclusive that was packaged up after the fact. But I have kept other shirts that came in box sets mint. Metallica, Black Sabbath, Sloan, even Family Guy. It’s not a big deal to me, I have LOTS of shirts.

          I did open and wear my Beautiful Kazakhstan shirt that came in my Borat DVD!

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        3. It’s one thing if a t-shirt is packaged as an add-on for a retail exclusive, but when it’s part of the actual package I would most likely keep it in mint condition. The other “Beat The Boots” box came with a beret. I’m happy to report that I never wore it, and when I sold that set (again for a very nice profit) it included everything. My buyer was a very happy shopper. I don’t sell much of my music collection, but every once in a while if something is valuable and I haven’t played it in years, I’ll consider being a capitalist…and using the profit to buy more music, of course.

          On a totally separate note, based on your recent Deep Purple post and the follow-up conversation, I’ve since bought the expanded versions of In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head (2CD0, Who Do We Think We Are, Burn, Stormbringer, Come Taste The Band (2CD) and Made In Japan. I don’t often go on buying tears like that, but I was inspired and I’ve really been enjoying all of them. Still waiting for those last two to arrive in the mail.

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        4. Very cool Rich. When I receive a big fan of music by a single artist, I like to space them out in my listening. Just so they stay distinct.

          I have another Purple review coming…tomorrow, I think? It’s a live bootleg, I hope you enjoy checking it out.

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        5. I’ll definitely check out your latest Purple review, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be tempted. I’m happy with the studio albums and a few key live releases. The more I play their albums, the more I wonder why Ian Paice is not discussed among the greatest rock drummers of all time.

          Since I already knew the Purple albums but only had them as digital copies from a friend’s CDs, I enjoyed having a big blast of their music in a short span of time. Otherwise I agree with your approach of spacing them out. Of course, with my blog I do the opposite, which is why I often need some down time between each series.

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        6. Yeah, tomorrow’s review will be a purchase to be made by collector’s only. However what I hope is that it will still be interesting to read, because every Purple show is different. This one is no exception. And that’s one reason I collect Purple.

          I was listening to some Whitensnake on the way home today, with Paice on drums, and I had the sa,e thought.

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        7. Well I can’t really talk about throwing away bits of box sets as I have form in that area but generally I agree haha. I do wear my Zep Song Remains the Same T-Shirt constantly though. It’s held up well!

          That is my main concern about many comps. I worry they just scratch the surface like you say.

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        8. That’s how it has worked best for me in the past. I bought Journey’s greatest hits…then I bought the box set. I bought ZZ Top’s greatest hits…then I bought the box set. And so on and so forth :)

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        9. I think this is where I run into difficulty… the compilation route has rarely worked well for me so I tend to shy away from them and try and find a respected album to start with (Escape in Journey’s case) but with a lot of the old artists the singles were the main thing rather than the album so I need to get over my aversion to compilations really!

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        10. I do too. My first box set was Zeppelin (the orange one). The second was Aerosmith – Pandora’s Box. After that, I lose track, but it may in fact have been Zeppelin’s Box Set 2 that came second.

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        11. Man, I even use scissors and cut around the stickers that are placed on the outside of packaging. Usually they are kept in the case, or in the middle of the booklet (at the staples binding point). I keep EVERYTHING with a release.

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        12. isaacandsophie :
          Man, I’ve done that sticker thing for years. Kindred spirits, I’m telling you.

          I’ve also been cutting out album stickers with scissors since I was a kid. Lots of kindred spirits here. Amazing what a conversation about Buddy Holly can turn into. I used to have a large envelope filled with every sticker I ever cut out (the biggest being from The Stones’ “Sucking In The Seventies”) but I might have purged that at some point. These days if there’s a good sticker worth saving it goes inside the CD packaging.

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    2. My father in law had that 2 CD set. My mother in law still has it, I would love it if she passed it onto me! She knows that I want it, so if she decides so, then I will get it that way :)

      Thanks for the compliments Rich!

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        1. Naw, those jokes ain’t no thing. After all, IT’S SO EASY.

          I know all about mushy brain. I have a 4 and a 2 year old! Nothing can turn your brain to tapioca faster than all day with whirlwinds like that. I do sometimes wonder if I know more kids’ songs lyrics than I do my own music… That’s why i play them Maiden. They like it!

          I do indeed have a real name! It’s Aaron! Nice to meet you!

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        2. Yeah, he’s my Sasha Fierce. Except I am nothing like Beyonce (if I was built like that I would stay in all day every day, if you know what I mean). The only trouble is that Statham and I get mixed up, like in that Ed Norton movie, where the bad personality is the real one, and the nice personality is the multiple. Because of this, I spend most of my days kicking ass. It’s a living.

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        3. I like that answer.

          Have you considered changing your WordPress name?

          When I was mining my old, unused Record Store Tales this week, I found my original title page…and apparently back then I had decided to go by the nom de plume of “Johnny Cock”. Do you remember that? I used to email you the early, early chapters.

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        4. I have considered changing the name, yeah. When I started on WP, all I had was the kids blog (hence the isaac and sophie), and the kma with James under that name (not attached to my kid blog account. Then I went through all those other attempted blogs and settled on the HAAPs. I could change the name to that, but my parents would probably wonder wtf if they saw things posted as that name. :)

          Haha I remember Johnny Cock. I think you should have kept that. I enjoyed getting those early drafts, that was quite a time for you – getting started, trying to decide what was OK to say. Yeah man, that seems ages ago. Johnny Cock. I hereby nominate the return return of Johnny Cock! Can I get it seconded?

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      1. Yeah it’s awesome. Totally recommended. I played that thing a lot. And I lent it to somebody and… well, I need to replace my copy. Fortunately, in two days Mike and I will be in Toronto and I can do just that!

        A 6CD box set would be a lot of Buddy. I think I’d have to break something like that up, listen to it over time, in between other records. I know it would all be awesome but damn! That’s too much awesome for any mortal to listen to from A-Z in one go! Besides, my CD carousel only holds 5 CDs, so one disc would get left out and we can’t have that…

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        1. Believe it or not, I listened to the 6-CD set straight through (over the course of a couple of work days), and then played it again. It’s that good, but you REALLY have to be in the mood for Buddy Holly. I guess I was. I also needed to justify the money I spent on that set.

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      1. Me like comment you make. Glad you liking my writings.

        (This has me thinking of an old Simpsons episode when Homer met a woman from a Reader’s Digest-type publication. His comment was something like: “I liked the part of your magazine about increasing your word power. I thought it was really…really…really……good”)

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  5. mikeladano :
    I do too. My first box set was Zeppelin (the orange one). The second was Aerosmith – Pandora’s Box. After that, I lose track, but it may in fact have been Zeppelin’s Box Set 2 that came second.

    I’ve got so many box sets it’s ridiculous. Can’t remember which was my first one, but I’ve got well over 100 (including numerous “Complete Albums Collection” sets). For some artists a box set is the perfect purchase, but for others it’s just a springboard for getting all the individual albums. Some of my favorites are various artist collections like “Nuggets” (I have three of those) or the ones that focus on a single label (like the 9-CD “Stax/Volt” complete singles collection). Oh, how box sets make me happy. There’s a John Martyn mega box coming out next month that I REALLY want, but right now it’s priced at more than $200. There’s no way I can justify spending that kind of money.

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    1. I have over 100 box sets too now. Those Nuggets and Stax/Volt sets are hard to find!

      No box sets are on my immediate horizon that I know of. But not all the Christmas releases have been announced yet. There could be ANYTHING coming.

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      1. I was fortunate to work at several record labels & had good connections over the years. I did get a lot of stuff for free, but mostly it was a matter of getting things like box sets for employee prices. Sometimes there would be an import box set that I had to spend the money on, like Thin Lizzy, The Zombies & Nick Lowe, and those were all money well spent.

        This year there’s also a super deluxe edition of The Who’s “Tommy” that looks amazing. For what they’re offering, though, the current price (well over $100) is insane. I’m hoping it comes down to around $60-$70.

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        1. I have a problem with my OCD, and these super deluxe box sets. So many of them look great! I can’t buy them all! Tommy does look amazing, but I already have the LAST deluxe of Tommy. At some point I need to ask myself how much I really do care.

          I’m good with my Tommy. Zeppelin though? That’s a whole different ball game.

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      2. You have over 100 box sets? Dude, you don’t need to buy a new house. You need to buy 2 – one to live in, one to house your collection!! Or maybe you can convert the garage into an insulated man-cave…

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        1. Well, that’s an idea, I’ve seen it done. But I look forward to parking my car indoors :)

          Yeah I would say easily over 100. Maybe 200. Many are small enough that I could file them in with my CDs. Many have spilled into 3 different rooms.

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        2. Bah, parking indoors is overrated, in this province. You don’t get WINTER here, you just get winter. And you live well south of me, so you get even less! Man I laugh when people around here complain about the winter. What’s the coldest it gets, -25C? Psht! Naw man, you’re fine parking outside. Then the whole garage can be for MUSICS!!

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        3. I’ve noticed that people in this province have a mental block when it comes to winters here. Like “Wah wah I HATE winter!!” when really it isn’t so bad. So you gotta shovel some snow and drive a bit slower on icy roads. Big deal. Ever since I lived in Saskatchewan, you can’t scare me with winter in this province. It’s just a few months to get through, not something standing in your way from doing anything. Heck, here the kids can still safely play outside! Got it good here, man. Yer fine in the driveway. Man up, buttercup!! Hahahahaaaa!

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    2. My first box set was a pink Rolling Stones box with the tongue as the opener flap. It covered 1971 Sticky Fingers through to 1989 Steel Wheels, with a Collectors Edition disc too. That was a gift to my from my Mom, I was still in high school.

      I bought that first Nuggets box set recently, used but so like new you’d never know, for $70. I LOVE IT. One of these days I’d love to get the others, but that first one was an especially cool find.

      I would buy anything from Stax/Volt. Even car insurance, at this point.

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  6. mikeladano :
    Well, that’s an idea, I’ve seen it done. But I look forward to parking my car indoors :)
    Yeah I would say easily over 100. Maybe 200. Many are small enough that I could file them in with my CDs. Many have spilled into 3 different rooms.

    Just did a quick count and…*yikes*…I’ve got between 195 & 200 box sets. Imagine how much money I would have if it wasn’t for this damn obsession with music. But my life would be incomplete.

    Like

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