Buddy Holly’s songs, masterpieces of three-chord minimalism, don’t lend themselves to tinkering in the way that, say, a Pink Floyd song might. On the long-overdue Holly tribute disc “Rave On Buddy Holly,” a grab-bag assortment of old-timers, garage rockers and hipsters tackle his most-loved tracks. Those who fare best stick close to home: Fiona Apple’s “Everyday” is tentative and lovely; Karen Elson’s one-woman girl-group version of “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” is sublime, as is Justin Townes Earle’s Marshall Crenshaw-like take on “Maybe Baby.”
The farther afield the artists venture, the worse things get. How else to explain Modest Mouse’s conversion of the formerly trim “That’ll Be the Day” into such a needlessly complicated slog? Or the terrible thing Paul McCartney did to “It’s So Easy?” The sole exception is Kid Rock, who turns “Well All Right” into a Detroit soul rave-up and gets away with it.