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Twangs for the Melody Various Artistes.
Lone Rider Records

What a great title that is for this first class CD in tribute to the classic instrumental greats from those Fab Fifties and Swinging Sixties. This has to be the nearest that you can get to taking that elusive time machine back to the days of electric guitar heaven, when Fender, Gibson and Gretsch were the top names in guitar production. What is amazing to me is that many of the tracks on this CD are played on those very instruments that abounded from every top group of the period, but the picking seems to be better. How can you beat an original version I hear you ask? Well, the bottom line is that, as the man with the wooden leg said “It’s a matter of opinion”. Get it? Well please yourself!!

Before the advent of the standard format of drums, rhythm, base and lead guitars often providing the backing for a sexy singer, the charts contained the odd instrumentals that caught the imagination of the public. Eddie Calvert’s golden trumpet, Winifred Atwell’s tinkling piano and not forgetting ‘M People’ (Mantovani and Mrs Mills!) all became favourites and sold 78’s by the bucket full. On the teen scene after Rock Around The Clock and Elvis; born out of the Skiffle group explosion came the dynamite of the beat instrumental which blasted onto the turntables of the Dansette across the length and breadth of the country. The good Lord Rockingham paved the way in November 1958 when Hoots Mon topped the charts but it was the summer of 1960 when Apache by the Shadows hit the top that the flood gates opened and the tidal wave of true beat instrumentals washed us all away.

The great thing about this CD is that all these great tunes are contained in the 33 tracks (over 78 minutes) on this one album. Re-live the hits in tribute to the Shadows with Apache, The Savage, Atlantis, Dance On and the timeless Wonderful Land alongside their seldom heard Mustang, Midnight, Shindig, and Geronimo and there’s even a great instrumental of Summer Holiday to have Cliff and the Shadows fans drooling. It is right that any album of twang should contain all these definitive tunes and I’ll defy you not to do the ‘walk’ (don’t run) as you listen! The grandfather of the British guitar, dear old Bert Weedon is represented with the opening track Bert’s Boogie, alongside the BBC TV Show Juke Box Jury theme Hit & Miss, and Trambone written by America’s premier guitar favourite Chet Atkins. The Ventures Perfidia and The Surfaris Wipe Out, rub shoulders with the little known British written instrumentals, The Mexican, Husky Team and Jaywalker. The latter being a Peter Jay/Joe Meek composition. The genius of Joe Meek is in evidence with Telstar, Lone Rider, Husky Team and the other Meek related George Bellamy composition Ridin’ The Wind played on the CD by The Tornados. The twang travels too and fro across the Atlantic with the speed of that communication satellite and this fast moving album becomes a transport of delight in tribute to the top toe tapping tunes of all time.

In addition to the top drawer playing and production of the Tornados, the album features virtuoso picking by the critically acclaimed Peter Williams alongside the playing of stars from the Pipeline Conventions, The Secrets and The Flames. Making their CD debut are top Joe Meek tribute band, The Triumphs. Instrumentally I was blown away by The Flames when I saw them perform live with the evergreen John Leyton on a show to promote my books Small Town Saturday Night (Volume 1 & 2). Their undoubted talent as witnessed on their live show is brought to quality hi-fi life in this studio recorded compilation as they trade impressive licks in excellent sound quality.

Each of the artists contributes and is in contrast to the others as the album flies though all that was good about the great instrumentals from the golden days. Lone Rider Records should be congratulated on, not only a crystal clear sound and for keeping the music of this wonderful period alive, but also on the production of the 16 page booklet that accompanies the CD. The sleeve notes of Rob Bradford together with the story behind each tune and the chart history are supplemented by a full colour double page spread of the original sheet music, EP’s and singles which all give added value to a top class production. Thanks guys for the memories and the melodies. “Hit or Miss” said David Jacobs on Juke Box Jury in the sixties – This is definitely a hit, so miss it at your peril!

Trevor Simpson
Author and Reviewer.
September 2009.

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