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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Various Artists

Great Tragedy: Winter Dance Party 1959 Part 2

Review by Gary Hill

This is a various artists set commemorating the fateful plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. This collects a number of songs from them along with songs about the tragedy and other numbers from the time. It includes a nice booklet to complete the package.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Winter Dance Party - The Story
This has a narrator and bits of interview clips, sound effects and more along with some driving music. It tells the story of the well-known tragedy.
Lee Davis - Three Young Men
Very old styled music is heard on this thing. It has some 1950s pop music along with some old rock and roll and hints of country music. This is very much not my kind of thing, but it works alright.
Bobby Vee & The Shadows - Flyin' High
I dig this kind of surf guitar a lot. This is such a classy tune. In fact, it's one of my favorites of this set.
The Big Bopper - Walking Through My Dreams
This is exactly the kind of 1950s styled rock and roll you expect from The Big Bopper. This is catchy and fun.
Tommy Dee with Carol Kay & The Teen-Aires - Three Stars
Mellow old school rockabilly serves as the backdrop for a spoken delivery about the three stars who died in the crash.
Jimmy Clanton - You Aim To Please
This is some killer energized rock and roll. It's a lot of fun.
Frankie Avalon - I'm Broke
This little doo wop tune is fun. It's a catchy cut.
Bobby Vee & The Shadows - Suzie Baby
Some intricate guitar is heard on this cut. The vocals deliver emotion and some hooks.
Frankie Sardo - No Love Like Mine
This energetic tune feels quite a bit like Elvis.
Ritchie Valens - That's My Little Suzie
Another fun rock and roller, this is one of the highlights of the set. I can see why Valens was popular. He was one of the better performers of the time. I dig the guitar solo section on this cut quite a bit.
The Big Bopper - Someone Watching Over You
This balladic piece has a very old-time pop music vibe to it. I'm not a big fan of this cut.
Jimmy Clanton - That's You Baby
An entertaining rocker, the saxophone brings a lot to the table here.
Dion & The Belmonts - Don't Pity Me
With a 50s pop ballad approach, this song is an entertaining one.
Fabian - Steady Date
There is a fun rock and roll boogie vibe to this thing. It's catchy and entertaining.
Frankie Avalon - Venus
This is a classic version of this tune. The chorale backing vocals and strings make it a bit too precious for my tastes, but it's still a classic.
Ronnie Smith - My Babe
I dig the rock and roll groove on this. It has some cool guitar.
Terry Lee & The Poorboys - My Little Sue
The guitar work on this cut really sells it. It's a fun and energized piece of music.
Jimmy Clanton - Just A Dream
More of a balladic piece, this works pretty well.
Frankie Avalon - Ginger Bread
With some catchy hooks, this is a fun tune.
Fabian - I'm In Love
Bouncy and fun, this is catchy. It's not my kind of thing, but I like it. That says a lot. There is an unusual and cool instrumental section built into this thing.
Dion & The Belmonts - Just You
This balladic tune is tasty, but nothing Earth-shattering. The jazzy elements are a nice touch.
Jimmy Clanton - A Part Of Me
Another tasty doo-wop tune, this is fun stuff.
Frankie Avalon - Teacher's Pet
Bouncy rock and roll is on the menu here.
Fabian - I'm A Man
This has a lot of energy. It's a rockabilly stomper that works pretty well.
Terry Lee & The Poorboys - Driftin'
More of a surf guitar piece, I like this a lot. It's another highlight of the set for me.
Bill Parsons - The All American Boy
Rockabilly is the order of business on this little number. It's a fun tune.
Frankie Avalon - I'll Wait For You
A balladic number, I'm not all that enamored with this one.
Waylon Jennings - Jole Blon
I dig the saxophone on this tune. This cut is actually a lot of fun. It has a good energy and some great melodies. It presents some solid variety, too. This is one of my favorites here.
Buddy Holly - Raining In My Heart
This mellow number has too many strings for my tastes. I like Holly's vocals, but the arrangement just doesn't work for me.
Bill Parsons - Rubber Dolly
The rockabilly on this thing is fast-paced and effective. I dig the cool little guitar workout built into the tune.
Frankie Avalon - You Excite Me
Fast paced and bouncy, this is another that's quite strong. I'm not sure if this song is labeled right, though, because the lyrics sound the same as the earlier tune from Avalon titled "I'm Broke."
Frankie Sardo - Oh Linda
There are some hints of jazz and country in this rockabilly piece. It's entertaining but not a standout.
Buddy Holly - Early In The Morning
Now, this song is so strong. It's energetic and rocking. It has a real gospel vibe to it, too.
Jimmy Clanton - A Letter To An Angel
This is a slower old-school number. While not one of my favorites, it works pretty well.
 
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