His garage band got it's start filling in for Buddy Holly the night after that fateful crash in 1959, and a few months later even boasted a young Bob Dylan as it's piano player. But soon after, in that window between Buddy Holly and the Beatles, Bobby Vee's voice was everywhere, a fixture of JFK era record and radio, unabashedly pop, but with a rock-and-roll pedigree. Fast forward 55 years to the day and you have this new (and final) release.
In 2011 Bobby Vee was diagnosed with Alzheimers and soon retired from the stage. As a way to cope with this sobering news, the family bundled into an RV and drove from Minnesota to Vee's adobe hacienda in Tucson and set up shop "back in the garage again" to make one more record. There they played and recorded only the music most precious to them. More their "campfire set" than "stage set." Songs from treasured old family road trip mix tapes ("Walls" by Gordon Lightfoot), songs by old band mates ("The Man In Me" by Bob Dylan gets a hypnotic garage groove reading), songs by old touring mates (Rick Nelson's "Never Be Anyone Else") even songs from the woman who custom wrote some of his biggest hits (Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "In My Baby's Eyes") a relative obscurity that first came to Vee in the same stack of acetate demos as "Take Good Care of My Baby." "Tucson Girl" is a hooky horn infused original that seems to have absorbed some musical textures from Vee's winter home. The gentle lovelorn ballad "Love Must Have Passed Me By," an original from Vee's first Minneapolis session in 1959, is recast as a duet with country/rockabilly journey woman Rosie Flores. Perhaps most out of character on a Vee record is Daniel Lanois' "The Maker," an ambitious reading of a spiritually searching song is understandable in its inclusion considering where Vee stands at his stage of life, and it works. A group of Benedictine monks from St John's Abbey (near Vee's home) even add a chant to the mix.
With Vee's three sons as the band, daughter Jen as occasional lyricist and son Robby penning some tunes, these folks learned their craft from the first generation, and it shows with warm, rootsy readings, deft playing. For people more accustomed to Vee's 17-year-old pipes, these 70 year old vocals are a rich and real surprise. An obvious labor of love, a tribute to a father and family that stands on it's own musical feet. The moral seems to be – "Who knows what tomorrow holds, so lets make music and memories today." Bobby Vee's "Adobe Sessions" is testament to that.