Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Buddy Holly: The Buddy Holly Collection [MCA, 1993]
Finally a compilation format suitable to a minor genius whose achievement seems permanently shrouded in myth: neither 20 astonishing hits nor every hiccup and fingerpick he ever committed to tape, just 50 songs running barely an hour and three-quarters. Even these tracks vary considerably in quality, held together like so much classic pop by the aural glue of an identifiable sound and style--the signature of a miniaturist who till the day he died was comfortable with a radio that preferred two-minute ditties to three-minute extravaganzas, and who found untold emotional and rhythmic nuance within the constriction. He was no nerd, but nerds loved him for a reason: he played by the rules without letting them stop him. A