"That Makes It Sound So Much Better!"
RollerCoaster RCCD 3060
Total Playing Time 27.12 minutes
No. of Tracks: 16 Booklet Pages: 36
Just when one thought that could not possibly be anything new on Buddy, along comes RollerCoaster Records with this excellent release!
(Mono) That's What They Say/What To Do/Peggy Sue Got Married/That Makes It Tough/Crying, Waiting, Hoping/Learning the Game
(Stereo) Studio Talk/That's What They Say/Crying, Waiting, Hoping/Count-In/Learning The Game/Peggy Sue Got Married/Studio Talk/What To Do/Studio Talk/That Makes It Tough.
The excellent liner notes written by John Beecher provides full details of the history of the recordings of these six tracks, previously known as 'The Apartment Tapes'. Buddy Holly had met with Dick Jacobs of Coral records on 19th January 1959 just prior to Holly's departure on the ill fated Winter Dance Party. At this meeting, Buddy had handed Jacobs a tape of six songs that he had recorded on a portable but professional tape-recorder at his Brevoort Apartment in New York over a series of dates in December 1958. The liner notes speculate on the sadness of the lyrics of these songs, most of which centre around lost love and regret. Up until then, it is rightly observed that the majority of Holly's compositions had been positive or confident. Wisely, the liner notes do not attempt a conclusion.
As we know, Buddy Holly perished in the plane crash on 3rd February 1959. Come 30th June 1959, Dick Jacobs arranged for an overdub session in New York to ascertain whether a master could be created from Buddy's demo tape. Two songs were chosen, with the main side being 'Peggy Sue Got Married' coupled with 'Crying, Hoping Waiting'. The musical overdubbing was provided by a combo lead by Jack Hansen wrote the arrangements and booked the musicians for the session. These were all experienced New York session men and were Andy Ackers on piano, Sanford Bloch on bass, Don Arnone on guitar and Panama Francis on drums. The backing vocalists were The Ray Charles Singers (no connection whatsoever with the band and singers lead by the legendary blind pianist and singer of 'I Can't Stop Loving You' fame). A further session was held on 1st January 1960 to overdub the four remaining songs, namely 'That's What They Say', 'What To Do', 'That Makes It Tough' and 'Learning The Game'.
The liner notes advise that the impression is gained that the backing musicians failed to appreciate what was really need. Coupled with this was that seemingly Buddy's timing was bad on these recordings as they had never been intended for release in that state and that the tape was either a second or third generation copy. This was, after all, only intended as a demonstration tape of the six songs.
Norman Petty gained control of the tapes in 1962 and overdubbed these songs for a second time, using The Fireballs and provided some of them with a very different feel.
These tapes of the Jack Hansen lead overdubs were passed to producer Chris Hopkins in late 2007 after he had contacted John Beecher enquiring if he had anything on Buddy Holly that he could have a go at. Clearly Chris is an engineering genius as he has achieved an outcome that breathes new life into these recordings. There is a section in the liner notes in which he explains as to how he managed to achieve these results. There are two different mixes of each song; one is also in mono whilst the other is in stereo.
Virtually everybody who has a liking for Buddy Holly music will be aware of these six songs and so I shall not attempt to comment on the obvious. However, all such personage will, I am sure, be pleasantly and agreeable surprised with the outcome achieved by this project. Congratulations to all concerned on a thoroughly recommended release, which is available both as a CD and as a 10" vinyl album.
© Tony Wilkinson