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Smithereens frontman Pat DiNizio does right by Buddy Holly.

frontman Pat
DiNizio does right by
Buddy Holly.

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02/08/09 07:38 AM
Listening Post /Brief reviews of select releases


Pat DiNizio, “Buddy Holly” (Koch). As leader and primary songwriter with the Smithereens, Pat DiNizio has always worn his influences proudly on his sleeve. The band’s power-pop rivals Cheap Trick’s, and like the latter band, the Smithereens have never made a secret of their Beatles fetish. It makes sense, then, that one of DiNizio’s biggest influences was also an icon to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Buddy Holly’s name is likely to be popping up all over the place this year, as the 50th anniversary of his untimely death is marked. Certainly, Holly’s small but stellar catalog will be delved into by all sorts of folks. It’s doubtful any of them will come close to DiNizio’s “Buddy Holly,” one of the finest tribute albums I’ve ver come across. Clearly, DiNizio understands Holly, who was a master of understatement in performance and deceptive simplicity in songwriting. With the help of revered veteran arranger Charles Calello, DiNizio doesn’t so much reinvent these songs as he does lovingly embellish them in a manner both reverential and creative. Calello’s arrangements are uniformly smart and subtle, and they couch DiNizio’s Elvis Costellolike timbre gorgeously. All too often, even well-turned tribute albums seem moot when one could just as easily listen to the original artist. DiNizio has pulled off the seemingly impossible — he’s made Buddy Holly’s music new again. Outstanding. ★★★★( Jeff Miers)