Down the Line: Rarities (Geffen / Decca)
Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., April 24, 2009
Buddy HollyDown the Line: Rarities (Geffen/Decca)
Fifty years after Buddy Holly's death, remnants of his genius are still being uncovered. Down the Line: Rarities, a companion piece to recent 3-CD set Memorial Collection, lacks definitive new finds, but it's an accessible entry point full of historical significance. From the Lubbock native's first home recording in 1949, a precocious reading of Hank Snow's "My Two-Timin' Woman," to The Apartment Tapes, his final solo recordings in Manhattan a decade later, this 2-CD collection covers the arc of Holly's all-too-brief career. The unretouched intimacy of the latter, most of which were overdubbed for the posthumous Buddy Holly Story 2, highlight the earnest sincerity of the singer's songcraft ("Crying, Waiting, Hoping"). His early potential plays out similarly, notarized here through his Western and bop duets with Bob Montgomery ("Flower of My Heart," "Door to My Heart," "Soft Place in My Heart"). Yet, Holly didn't hit his streak until Elvis rolled through town, resulting in the startlingly confident, rockabilly romp "Down the Line," the birth of his golden hiccup on Arthur Gunter's "Baby, Let's Play House," and the jukebox standards collectively known as The Garage Tapes. Rough cuts of songs reveal the subtle nuances that separate each version, like Holly's drawn out delivery on the alternate take of "Gone" and eventual perfection of "Think It Over." Savor every moment.