Buddy Holly’s original full-length release with his first recording outfit, The Crickets, simply titled The Chirping Crickets, has been re-released on high quality virgin vinyl by Germany’s Doxy Records. This import is a great purchase for those looking to explore one of the most influential albums in the history of rock and roll music. With no less than four of Holly’s biggest hits, The Chirping Crickets is the record that would leave a serious impact on The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, the San Francisco psychedelic community, and other burgeoning rock scenes such as the one containing rock legend Roky Erickson and his 13th Floor Elevators. Modern rockabilly also owes its popularity to The Crickets’ clever musicianship as captured here.
Rock and roll was still very fresh in 1957. Northern radio stations weren’t absolutely certain what to make of this energetic, guitar-driven music with gospel-styled backing vocals bubbling up in the South, but the kids loved it. The Chirping Crickets presented audiences with Holly’s first smash, “That’ll Be The Day,” and a package that included other tunes headed for the airwaves, “Oh Boy!,” the oft-covered “Not Fade Away” and the hopeful “Maybe Baby.” In addition, the collection includes two songs co-written by a young Roy Orbison, “You’ve Got Love” and “An Empty Cup (And A Broken Date).” Holly’s lead guitar lines are bold and precise, while The Crickets’ rhythmscompliment and drive Holly along. The backing vocals on nine of the 12 tracks are not credited to their true source, a combo called The Picks who were quite good at emulating a small yet full-voiced church choir.
Holly’s work following this release would lean more toward pop music rather than rock and roll, and he would never again record with the line-up of bassist Joe Maudlin, drummer Jerry Allison and rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan. Holly and The Crickets led careers separate from one another, with The Crickets touring and recording long after Holly’s tragic death in early 1959. Yet the four musicians were together for this, one of only three LPs released during Holly’s life, and the record that most of Holly’s fans treasure most. Doxy’s reissue of The Chirping Crickets will be the best way for music fans to own and enjoy this material on vinyl if they’re hesitant to play a collectible copy over half a century old. As an essential part of any comprehensive rock and roll music library, The Chirping Crickets may best be experienced through the warmth and clarity on a 33 rpm vinyl record.
- Mark Polzin