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The Complete Richie Valens

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Album Review

The Complete Ritchie Valens DVD combines a nearly two-hour video documentary on the 1950s rocker's life with an audio program offering all 28 of his studio masters, as well as a digital scrapbook of memorabilia and a foldout booklet with photos and (fairly brief) liner notes. Since all of Valens' recordings have been issued on standard audio CDs, the chief attraction of this package is the video portion. As Valens was a recording artist for less than a year, you might suspect that stretching his life story out to a two-hour documentary might be pushing it. That's kind of true, but hey, if you're interested enough in the phenom to lay out for a DVD, you might as well get more, not less. The video program largely consists of reasonably informative, though not compelling, 1990s interviews with several close relatives, some DJs and show promoters, and, most vitally, his producer, Bob Keane. The memories of Carl Bunch, who was in Buddy Holly's Crickets during the early 1959 tour that was Valens' last (and also backed Valens onstage), provides some interesting musician insider information. The details of that last tour, and the plane crash that claimed the lives of Valens, Buddy Holly, and the Big Bopper, are dragged out for quite some time; some of those minutes might have been better spent interviewing some of the noted surviving musicians that played on the artist's recordings, such as bassist Carol Kaye and drummer Earl Palmer. Lamentably, there's just a small snippet of actual live Ritchie Valens footage from a home movie, without sound. The interactive program consists of a few dozen photos from both his boyhood and the late 1950s (including shots from that final tour and several of the plane crash), a few vintage press clippings, a basic discography, and links to web sites of interest. Incidentally, the audio program does not include every last Valens recording; additional home recordings and live material has also been released, most comprehensively on the three-CD set Come On, Let's Go!.

Biography

Born: 13 May 1941 in Pacoima, CA

Genre: Rock & Roll

Years Active: '50s

The first Hispanic rock star, Ritchie Valens will forever be known as one of the two musicians (along with the Big Bopper) who perished with Buddy Holly in 1959, when their private plane crashed in the midst of a Midwest tour. At the time, Valens had only recently established himself as one of the most promising young talents in rock & roll, just barely missing the top of the charts with "Donna," a number two hit, and pioneering a blend of rock and Latin music with the single's almost equally...
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