Thursday, November 14, 2013

Not My Buddy: True Love Ways

There are just some recordings that cannot be improved upon, and that’s my feeling concerning Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways.” It was recorded during his last formal session, which occurred at the Pythian Temple in New York.

You can’t get better than the arrangement of this song - the strings of Ray Ellis’ orchestra, Al Caiola’s guitar, Sanford Block on bass, the integral harp provided by Doris Johnson, and Ernie Hayes’ tasteful piano; however, the most inspiring part of the song besides the emotion of Buddy Holly’s voice was the haunting sound of Abraham Richman’s alto sax. I get shivers up and down my spine every time I hear this song.

Released in 1960 as part the album “The Buddy Holly Story, Vol. 2,” how could this single not be a hit? Sadly in America it wasn’t, and it was a marginal hit in the UK. Today, we’re featuring a 1965 cover of the song by Peter and Gordon.

While Peter Asher and Gordon Waller did an excellent job on their recording, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original – but it still has merit and is good in its own right – it’s just not Buddy. What really chafes me about their version is that it outperformed Holly’s original. While Buddy didn’t chart in the US, Peter and Gordon peaked at #14; and while the original peaked at #25 in Britain, this cover went all the way to #2.

Peter and Gordon’s vocal performance is excellent, the string arrangements outstanding, and the 12-string guitar is a nice touch; however, the alto sax is missing, but there is (I believe) a French horn or a euphonium in the mix – but it doesn’t carry same the emotion as the saxophone. OK, it really is a nice version of the song, and they had the guts to do a key change toward the end – but dang, it’s still not Buddy Holly.

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