Sign up for our free newsletter

Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.

Tribute albums aren’t what they used to be. These days, musicians not only perform songs by dead artists, they perform songs with dead artists. On Not Fade Away (Remembering Buddy Holly), for instance, the Hollies give “Peggy Sue Got Married” the “Free as a Bird” treatment, backing the vocal track from a Holly demo with the band’s own arrangement of the song. Aside from the aging Hollies—who are joined here by original member Graham Nash for the first time since 1968—most of the performers on this 12-track collection are high-profile country artists. Holly’s first band was a country and western duo, so it’s altogether appropriate that the disc’s contributors play up the country influence that permeated his music. More importantly, it works. The Mavericks’ “True Love Ways,” buoyed by Raul Malo’s velvety vocal, has all the makings of a slow-dance classic; the Tractors’ piano-driven “Think It Over” emphasizes the song’s rowdy honky-tonk elements; and Mark Knopfler’s melancholy guitar underscores the poignance of Waylon Jennings’ “Learning the Game.” (Jennings, who was slated to be on Holly’s fateful 1959 flight, ceded his seat to the Big Bopper at the last minute.) Many of the disc’s artists are linked biographically to Holly, not least the Crickets themselves, who join the Band on “Not Fade Away” and Nanci Griffith on “Well…All Right.” As for context, Holly George-Warren’s liner notes discuss each song’s significance in terms of Holly’s artistic development—though the disc’s pretentious graphic design makes them maddeningly difficult to read. CP