In their late teens and early twenties the lads had been fooling around which left Jerry Allison with a cut under his left cheek and this is clearly visible in the photograph. The Chirping Crickets too packed a punch and contained three of the group’s hits along with their B sides. In addition there were two songs co-written by Norman Petty’s protégé, Roy Orbison, “You’ve Got Love” and “An Empty Cup (And A Broken Date).” The album was mixed in Petty’s record studios in Clovis, New Mexico when the Crickets were on tour. The original tapes had the Crickets play their instruments but Petty used a combo called the Picks to support Buddy’s vocals on many of the tracks. The mix of rockabilly, doo wop and R&B with keen pop sensibility made for a sensational package.
“Maybe Baby, I'll have you” was written by Charles Hardin (aka Buddy Holly) with shared credit was given to manager, Norman Petty which was a formality at the time. Originally it was recorded as a mid-tempo, country-song but then recut as a faster rockabilly version. The song has an 8-bar instrumental introduction and features Buddy’s lilting vocal hiccup to accentuate each verse then ends with a short conclusion. In contrast, “Not fade away” was classic Bo Diddley beat with a rhythm guitar solo played with hard-driving open chords and drummer Jerry Allison pounding out the backbeat on a cardboard box. The A-A-B-A formatted "Oh Boy" with a 12-bar blues verse and an 8-bar bridge includes one of Buddy’s raunchiest vocals featuring his trademark stutter. The other hit was “That’ll be the day” inspired by John Wayne’s immortal utterance in the movie, The Searchers. Holly and Allison wrote the song around the phrase but when it was first put to vinyl at Decca Records, Nashville in 1956 the original version was slower with Holly singing at the top of his range. The song was never released and Buddy was dropped from the Decca label. The version which eventually became a chart topper and appears on the album was recorded at the Norman Petty studios in Clovis, New Mexico with backing singers Niki Sullivan, June Clark and Ramona Tollett. To prevent potential legal action Petty credited The Crickets as the artist on this new recording.
Other Holly compositions are the rocker, and much underestimated "I'm Looking for Someone to Love"; as well as the upbeat "Tell Me How." The inclusion of the cover of Chuck Willis' "It's Too Late" provides a perfect vehicle for Holly's heartbroken, atmospherically echoed crooning and his slow versions of Roy Orbison’s compositions do credit to the Big ‘O’. The gospel feel “Send me some lovin” is rock version of call and response and the base heavy Rock me my baby is pure rockabilly. The album is complete with Joe B. Mauldin’s “Last Night” which is heavily influenced but the Platters, “My Prayer.”
The “Chirping Crickets” captured a groups’ ability to write simple songs set to punchy arrangements with memorable lyrical and melodic hooks. Buddy was one of the first to use a Stratocaster and masterly demonstrates its use as a lead instrument complemented perfectly by the drive of the Crickets rhythms. Although Holly lacked the arresting sexuality of Elvis Presley, the Crickets were the perfect model for the self-contained rock & roll band that wrote, arranged, performed, and recorded their own material. This would have a tremendous influence on the coming generation of rock and rollers. By the time it was released in the US Rock’n’roll had peaked but was still in its infancy in the UK. Thanks in no short measure to the Cunard Yanks the album’s influence spread far and wide long after “the day the music died.”
The album was subsequently re-issued in 1962 as Buddy Holy and the Crickets. More recently The Chirping Crickets was re-released on high quality virgin vinyl by Germany’s Doxy Records. Track listing
Not fade away
You've Got Love
It's Too Late
Tell Me How
That'll Be the Day
I'm Looking for Someone to Love
An Empty Cup (And a Broken Date)
Send Me Some Lovin
Rock Me My Baby
© Words -Cameron Kippen / ZANI Ltd