Anticipating the 50th anniversary of Buddy Holly’s death on February 3, I’ve been reading the Holly biography Rave On by Philip Norman. With those glasses on, it has become so clear to me that Holly has left his imprint on the rock ‘n’ roll all around us.
In the wake of Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock,” it seemed every band wanted to make sure “rock” was in their name. The Rockwells are no exception, although their Place & Time has appeared some 50 years later.
More than Bill Haley, though, the Rockwells bring on the air of Buddy Holly with their blend of 50’s rock fueled by a bluesy, rockabilly guitar. While they also take on White Rabbits style—at creepy undercurrent harmonies and work of an infectious rhythm section (“Tess”), the Rockwells’ sound can be traced right back to how Holly took rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll, blues, country, and R&B and played the hell out of them.
“She’s Already Gone” has a jangly, rockabilly guitar with a catchy melody and chorus. It’s a 50’s styled character song, as if lifted and clean up from some blues tale. Plus, it’s gone an organ solo right out of the past, pushing the instrument to its limit. “The Quarterback” tells another 50’s type character story about what could’ve been.
“Hole in the Wall” is a ballad powered by an echoing drum and a plaintive 70’s vibe. This would be a fine musical choice, although they return to this on the album a couple too many times.
“To Tell the Truth” brings in a little of the 60’s intensity, years before punk, the pop harmonies and handclaps still there, but with that ready-to-bust-outta-here sense.
“Ten Years Old” is a Simon & Garfunkel-type, coming of age tale with an awesome recorder part played by lead singer Jonathan Kelly. The horns from the song are lifted to use as an introduction for the album, forming a bit of inclusion as “Ten Years Old” becomes the penultimate song.