Code: LRR TWANG 001
The instrumental phenomenon proper began to take off in the UK from c. 1958 onwards. As ever, it followed on from the success of the genre in the USA. Although Bill Justis (“Raunchy”) and Bill Doggett (“Honky Tonk”) were the precursors Stateside, they weren’t widely known here. No, it was from the ‘second wave’ of Duane Eddy (“Rebel Rouser”) and Johnny & The Hurricanes (“Red River Rock”) that many British acts took their initial inspiration. These pioneers were quickly followed by the Ventures (“Walk,Don’t Run”) and their ilk. Meanwhile, the UK began to rock to the instrumental sounds of Lord Rockingham’s X1, Bert Weedon (who scored with “Guitar Boogie Shuffle”, the UK’s first guitar instrumental hit proper in 1959) and, most significantly, the Shadows. The Shadows themselves spawned a whole host of imitators. Literally hundreds of guitar instrumental groups sprang up in their wake. The likes of the Eagles, the Fentones, the Hunters,the Packabeats, the Outlaws and so on were all fine groups containing talented musicians. Sadly the majority did not enjoy the kind of commercial success that they deserved. Indeed, in terms of instrumentals, chart success was limited to an elite handful of groups and artistes (the Shadows, the Outlaws, the Tornados, Jet Harris & Tony Meehan, the John Barry Seven, Bert Weedon and so on). The instrumental scene was always marginalized, but collectors of it are knowledgeable, loyal and dedicated. The ‘Golden Era’ of the UK instrumental scene was undoubtedly 1960 – 1963 and the bulk of the cover versions on this collection are drawn from groups/hits within that particular timespan.
In order to appreciate the development of instrumentals in the UK, it may be as well to apprise readers/listeners of the musical/social milieu of the late 50s/early 60s. The majority of households still had no TV sets (and for the few that did there were only two TV channels!), but it was a time of rapid social change and cultural development. Programmes devoted to Pop music were rare, which explains why “6.5 Special”, “Oh Boy!” “Drumbeat”, “Boy Meets Girl” and so on became national institutions in their day. Teenagers flocked around to friends’ houses for ‘mass’ TV viewing sessions and the consumer boom of the MacMillan era saw the sale of TVs begin to rise inexorably. “Thank Your Lucky Stars” became the Holy Grail of Pop TV-’’Ready, Steady, Go!” was still several years away (as was “Top Of The Pops”). The situation on the radio was nearly as bad. Only the Light Programme broadcast any Pop music. Not surprisingly, shows such as “Easy Beat”, “Parade Of The Pops”, “The Talent Spot”, “Go, Man, Go!” and (especially) “Saturday Club” held an enormous appeal for pop–starved teens. The only other alternative was the wonderful, but notoriously unreliable, reception-wise that is, Radio Luxembourg (“The Station Of The Stars”). Certain aspects of it were furtive and clandestine. In common with many others of my generation, after being sent to bed – I would often grapple secretively beneath the sheets (fearing parental retribution) with my trusty ‘Perdio Popsy’ radio. Partial suffocation, fear and reception drop – out (plus the great music), that was the majesty of Radio Luxembourg. I envied those older than me who could listen in happier circumstances. It was a more innocent epoch, both socially and musically. It was also a time full of excitement and optimism as Britain threw off the shackles of 1950s post–war austerity. The space–age was dawning and the exploits of the early cosmonauts /astronauts held the nation in thrall. This was reflected in the pop music of the day as was the interest in TV themes (Westerns, Thrillers, Adventure series, Historical dramas etc.). Sales of records, Dansette players and those new–fangled radiograms were booming. For many working – class boys (and girls) the chance to become a rock/pop idol became a real possibility. Thousands took up the guitar and formed groups – many of them opting for the instrumental route. Instrumentals needed a good, strong, memorable melody. If an original tune couldn’t be found, then why not adapt one? For example, ‘standards’, film or TV themes all served. Or maybe filch a classical or traditional melody and ‘rock it up’? All of these influences and more can be found on this splendid trawl through the vast ‘back catalogue’ of instrumental tracks. Welcome to the world of the instrumental.
The rise of the instrumental grew alongside the bourgeoning British Popular Music scene of the late 1950s / early 1960s coupled with the rise of consumerism and wider general availability of electric guitars and amplifiers. Naturally, guitars were an integral part of any pop group set up - usually to back the nominated front man / vocalist in the Cliff/the Shadows mould. After “Apache”, records without words became de rigeur for a while. As 1963 progressed the Beatles had indeed changed the face of popular music. Solo vocalists (with a few major exceptions) went into a steep decline in terms of popularity. Equally, singers backed by groups (Cliff/the Shadows being a notable exception) also suffered badly. Beat groups were now the thing – particularly with vocals. The instrumental groups per se were becoming passé (with the notable exception of the Shadows –that is until they split up in 1968) and this was evidenced by the fact that there were only a handful of instrumental hits during 1964/ 65. Thereafter – apart from Love Sculpture’s magnificent “Sabre Dance” (1968) and Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross” (1969) – there weren’t really any further instrumental hits of any note. Oh! there was always the occasional surprise hit like Paul Mauriat’s “Love Is Blue” (1968) – but that was a lush orchestral opus. Despite there being no instrumental hit records for many a long year, it is totally true to say that interest in instrumental music remains to this day. The genre still has its followers/devotees/fans/collectors. There are Shadows/Instrumental conventions/clubs throughout the UK and these continue regularly into 2009. Additionally, groups such as The Flames and The Rapiers keep the instrumental alive onstage. As well as all of this there is a steady stream of archive CD reissues which have their own niche market audience. Hence this project from Lone Rider Records. This is slightly different. As I’ve already mentioned – there are lots of compilation CDs (featuring original recordings) which are readily available. Most serious collectors already own the tracks many, many times over. All of the artistes featured on this CD were inspired by those early instrumental pioneers and took up guitar/bass/drums/keyboards themselves as youngsters. Now – 50 years later – they pay homage to their heroes as they perform their own versions of some of the fantastic singles, EP and LP tracks which fired up their musical ambitions and imagination almost two generations ago! ‘Twangs for the Melody’, yes indeed! And also for the memories that go hand in hand with the veritable feast of timeless tunes on this fabulous compilation.
Welcome to a ‘Twangfest’ with a difference.
Rob Bradford, Journalist. August 2009
Peter is well known in music circles for not only being a very talented guitarist but for his daytime profession as a highly qualified guitar tutor. His love of the guitar being prompted by his early hero Bert Weedon and his legendary ‘Play In A Day’ tutorial. A biography of Peter is available at his website:
Are without a doubt one of the UK’s best Rock and Roll Bands. The current line-up of Jeff Tuck (drums), John Burleigh (lead guitar), Roger Cover(bass guitar) and Jeff Jeffery( rhythm guitar) have been together for the last 21 years. They perform regularly at Clubs and Theatres throughout the UK and Europe and are John Leyton’s regular backing Band. A Flames biography is available at:
Any ‘tribute’ CD to the Instrumental greats of the 60’s could not be considered to be complete without a contribution from this legendary Band. Drum legend Clem Cattini still regularly performs with ‘The Tornados’ and is always busy doing session work for other Artistes. Check out 60’s Brit-Pop Instrumentals for a biography of this legendary Band.
Many of you will have seen The Secrets perform at Pipeline conventions. The Band are Ray Liffen (guitar), Dave Burke (drums), Peter Walter (bass guitar), Jim Nugent (guitar), Trevor Faull (keyboards).
The Triumphs are ‘the only Joe Meek Tribute Band in the UK’. Featuring members of the Joe Meek Society the Band are Ken Ledran(drums), Ray Liffen(lead guitar), Trevor Faull (keyboards), Jules Dawton (bass guitar) and Rob Bradford (vocals). For a biography of the Band check out www.thetriumphs.co.uk and the Joe Meek Society www.rhis.co.uk/jmas
Notes on the original recordings (singles except where-noted otherwise) and the Artistes who recorded them...
Bert’s Boogie – Bert Weedon
(Top Rank JAR 117)
Bert (who was born in 1920) was nearly 40 years old when he became Britain’s first ‘guitar hero’ way back in 1959 with “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” – which was the UK’s first home – grown bona fide guitar instrumental hit. Bert was an accomplished guitarist who was already a top session player. He appeared regularly on TV and radio broadcasts too. Plus, his famous “Play In A Day” guitar tutor book also encouraged many youngsters to take up the instrument. “Bert’s Boogie” was his own composition, which was on the flipside of his hit single.
Hit & Miss – The John Barry Seven (Columbia DB 4414)
I mentioned earlier that there were few TV programmes featuring pop music back in 1960. One that did was Juke Box Jury. It was immensely popular. The format was simple but effective. Each week chairman David Jacobs (he of the smooth urbane charm) would play a selection of brand new single releases to a panel of celebrities. They had to vote whether or not the records would be successful (a hit) or doomed to failure (a miss). The programme’s original theme music was “Juke Box Fury” by Ozzie Warlock and the Wizards! It was replaced by the wonderful, aptly titled “Hit & Miss” (complete with pizzicato strings) by the John Barry Seven. John Barry later went on to immense international success as a composer of film scores, notably the James Bond series.
Apache – The Shadows
(Columbia DB 4484)
The story of the Shadows is too well known to repeat here. Hank, Bruce, Jet and Tony were already household names by dint of backing up Cliff Richard. The sensational “Apache” launched the Shadows on to unprecedented success in their own right and spawned hundreds of instrumental groups of a similar style. It was written by Jerry Lordan and had originally been recorded by Bert Weedon (but his version remained unreleased for a while). Ironically – it knocked Cliff’s “Please Don’t Tease” (also featuring the Shadows) off the No.1 spot!
Walk,Don’t Run – The Ventures
(Top Rank JAR 417)
The fantastic Ventures had a huge hit here in the UK with their brilliant debut single – which reached No.8 in the charts. It would have probably been an even bigger hit – but the John Barry Seven’s version reached No.11 and Rhet Stoller also had a version out which sold well but didn’t chart. The Ventures were founded over 50 years ago by Don Wilson and Bob Bogle. The latter had been in failing health recently and sadly passed away a few months ago. The Ventures (with Don Wilson) continue to record and tour (especially in Japan) to this very day.
Perfidia – The Ventures
(London HLG 9232)
The Ventures’ follow up to “Walk,Don’t Run”,“Perfidia”, was an even bigger UK hit. It was issued on the London label because by the time this gem was released the Top Rank label was defunct. A great instrumental record which peaked at No.4 in the charts.
Teen Scene – The Hunters
(Fontana H 276)
The Hunters backed up singer Dave Sampson – who was a school friend of Cliff Richard. The two kept in touch long after they had left school and had commenced their separate recording careers with Columbia records. So good were the Hunters that they backed Cliff at the London Palladium in 1960 when the Shadows weren’t available. They released two quality albums and several excellent singles – meeting with no commercial success. Lead guitarist Brian Parker passed away a few years ago whilst drummer Norman Sheffield went into production, notably at Olympic Studios.
Ginchy - Bert Weedon
(Top Rank JAR 537)
Bert Weedon congratulated Lonnie Donegan on becoming the first man in the UK to ‘make money out of playing the guitar’. Bert Weedon could play in any style. Maybe he should have recorded more upbeat numbers like “Ginchy”. Although nearly 90 years of age, Bert is still playing. He appeared at the Pipeline Instrumental Convention a few years ago (then well into his 80s) and didn’t drop a single note during his entire set.
Mustang – The Shadows
(“The Shadows” Columbia EP SEG 8061 (Mono)/ESG 7834 (Stereo)
This was one of the biggest – selling EPs of the 1960s and featured four Western – styled melodies not available elsewhere at the time. “Mustang” was written by Jerry Lordan in conjunction with his old friend Tony Mould.
Gypsy Beat – The Packabeats (Parlophone R 4729)
The Packabeats evolved from a skiffle group known as the Blackjacks. Signed to Parlophone their sole minor hit was an instrumental re – working of the old folksong “The Wraggle Taggle Gypsies, Oh”. The group name came from popular radio DJ Sam Costa’s habit of describing just about every popular music release as “...sure packs a beat!” The group later recorded with producer Joe Meek to critical acclaim but with no further chart success.
Midnight – The Shadows
(Columbia DB 4580)
Released as the flip side of FBI, ‘Midnight’ has been described as ‘a descriptive piece of mood music’. The Shadows loved ‘Sleepwalk’ but felt that it was being played to death. So, Hank and Bruce came up with the dreamy ‘Midnight’ as an alternative. It was recorded when the Shadows were trying out very late sessions at Abbey Road. An experiment that didn’t last as the exhausted Shadows (frequently recording after driving back from live shows) were often falling asleep between takes!
Trambone - The Krew Kats
(HMV Pop 840)
The Krew Kats included guitar legend Big Jim Sullivan as well as future Shadows Brian Bennett and Brian ‘Licorice’ Locking. “Trambone” was their take on a tune popularised by Chet Atkins.
The Frightened City – The Shadows (Columbia DB 4637)
This track was written by Norrie Paramor – originally for the theme of the film of the same name. The story centred around gangsters in Glasgow and featured an appearance by Sean Connery – whose next film role was as James Bond in Dr. No! A great rocking instro by the Shadows!
Lone Rider – The Flee–Rekkers (Piccadilly 7N 35006)
Formerly known as the Flee – Rakkers (after their group leader’s Dutch surname), the ‘Flees’ were a powerful Joe Meek group in the Johnny & the Hurricanes style. “Lone Rider” was songwriter Geoff Goddard’s very first instrumental effort. He subsequently added lyrics to his melody, which then became a hit for John Leyton.
In The Hall Of The Mountain King – Nero & The Gladiators (Decca F 11367)
Keyboard / piano player Mike O’Neill was told by his landlady that he looked like a Roman Emperor. He then built a group image (everyone wearing togas, Roman armour etc) around the idea. They released some fine singles. “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” was banned by the BBC hierarchy on account of its Jive – talking introduction and ‘disrespect’ for Edvard Grieg’s memory.
The Savage – The Shadows
(Columbia DB 4726)
Once described as ‘A vicious slice of R’n’R instrumental music’ – it’s a torrid workout for the rhythm guitarist. As featured in the film “The Young Ones” – this blistering piece (once again written by Norrie Paramor) was originally entitled “Witch Doctor”.
Husky Team – The Outlaws (“Dream Of The West” LP HMV CLP 1489)
The Outlaws were a prolific recording outfit and deserved more success. Joe Meek developed the pounding “Husky Team” from “Orbit Around the Moon” (a track on his own “I Hear A New World” LP). A great track, which was also recorded and released by another RGM group, the Saints.
Wonderful Land – The Shadows (Columbia DB 4790)
No.1 for eight weeks and a million – seller. Jerry Lordan’s magnificent “Wonderful Land” is still Britain’s biggest ever-selling guitar – led instrumental recording. Quite frankly, it’s a record that’s unlikely ever to be broken.
The Mexican – The Fentones (Parlophone R 4899)
The Fentones made many appearances on Saturday Club and released some fine recordings without enjoying too much chart success. The Mexican was a superb driving track with fiery lead work from Jerry Wilcock.
Telstar -The Tornados (Decca F 11494)
One of the all – time great classics, “Telstar” remains the UK’s biggest selling instrumental. Joe Meek came up with his masterpiece only because he discovered that both the Fentones and the Shadows had plans to release their own versions of “The Breeze And I” – a track that the Tornados were about to release. Joe Meek announced that he’d “....come up with something else.” That something else was “Telstar”!
The Rocket Man – The Spotnicks (Oriole CB 1755)
Sweden’s Spotnicks were extremely popular in the UK. In 2009 they’re still playing and recording with lead guitarist Bo Winberg still very much in evidence. Many records in 1961 / 62 had a ‘space’ theme in keeping with the exciting developments of the time. “The Rocket Man”, with lashings of twang and tremolo, was actually based on an old Russian melody variously known as “The Riding Cossack”, “Song Of The Plains”, “Cavalry Of The Steppes” and so on.
Ridin’ The Wind – The Tornados (“The Sounds Of The Tornados” Decca EP DFE 8510)
Really, this outstanding track should have been the follow up to “Telstar”. It only ever appeared in the UK as an EP track. Written by rhythm guitarist George Bellamy – it’s a perfect combination of great writing, great performance and great production.
Dance On! – The Shadows
(Columbia DB 4948)
The Shadows hit No.1 with this release just as 1962 turned into 1963. Later that year Kathy Kirby had a big hit with her powerful vocal rendition of the song, which had been written, incidentally, by the Avons.
Saturday Nite At The Duck-Pond
The Cougars (Parlophone R 4989)
The Cougars were a Bristol – based group who won a talent contest judged by none other than Norrie Paramor. He liked an arrangement they played called “Twistin’ Tchaikovsky”. Signed to Parlophone – the aforementioned ditty became “Saturday Nite At The Duck-Pond” (being a rocked up version of “Swan Lake”). It managed to be a hit despite being banned by the BBC who deemed it to be “....a bastardisation of Tchaikovsky’s music.”
Jaywalker – Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers (Decca F 11593)
Great Yarmouth – based Peter Jay and his group had a dynamic stage act. Drummer Peter had coloured lights fitted inside his drumheads and he wired carbon rods up to his cymbals. This was certainly very effective when the house lights were low! The group sounded like a heavy version of the Piltdown Men and featured four guitarists! “Jaywalker” was on the flipside of “Totem Pole”.
Maigret – The Eagles (“New Sound TV Themes” Pye EP NEP 24166)
The Eagles were a superb instrumental group in the Shadows tradition. Despite a prolific recording career – six singles, two EPs and an LP within the space of two years – they never achieved the hit status that they so richly deserved. They named themselves after the Eagle House Youth Club in Knowle, Bristol. The theme from the popular TV series “Maigret” was typical of their sound. Bassist Mike Brice is still performing in 2009 as part of the Ivy League.
There are 8 Million Cossack Melodies And This Is One Of Them – Group X (Fontana 267 274 TF)
One of the longest ever titles for an instrumental single. Group X only ever released two singles –but they are fondly remembered by collectors. Some titles, supposedly by composer Bobby Richards were actually re-workings of Beethoven and Ravel! This particular track deserved to be a big hit – but unfortunately it wasn’t. Based around Russian folksongs and originally called ‘Cossack Twist’, the eventual title was suggested by impresario Tito Burns as he loved the catchphrase from the then popular TV detective series ‘The Naked City’.
Atlantis – The Shadows
(Columbia DB 7047)
“Atlantis” completed a trio of massive Shadows’ hits penned by Jerry Lordan. Their original featured a gorgeous guitar tone, beautiful phrasing from Hank Marvin and an elegiac orchestral arrangement courtesy of Norrie Paramor.
The Cruel Sea – The Dakotas (Parlophone R 5044)
When they weren’t backing up Billy J Kramer, the Dakotas recorded some fine instrumental sounds. Their records had a tough edge to them, setting them apart from their contemporaries. Mike Maxfield wrote the splendid “The Cruel Sea” (titled after the Nicholas Monsarrat novel and the film). The Ventures recorded a cover version in the USA but dubbed it “The Cruel Surf”.
Wipeout – The Saints (Pye 7N15548)
The teenage Surfaris scored heavily with their original guitar / drums (based upon a high school marching band tattoo riff) instrumental in 1963. Joe Meek hurriedly arranged for the Saints to record an RGM cover version. Ricky Winter (who still plays with a version of the Saints in 2009) occupied the drumstool.
Shindig – The Shadows
(Columbia DB 7106)
Another Top 10 hit for the Shadows, who were one of only a handful of instrumental acts to survive the twin onslaught of Beatlemania and Merseybeat.
Geronimo – The Shadows
(Columbia DB 7163)
A great, driving number written by Hank B Marvin. “Geronimo” ended a run of twelve successive top 10 hits for the Shadows (it stalled at No.11). The group’s tremendous performance was enhanced by Norrie Paramor’s sweeping string arrangement.
Theme For Young Lovers
The Shadows (Columbia DB 7231)
The original was released in 1964 and was quite a big hit. It was written by Bruce Welch. Curiously, Bruce wasn’t on the original recording. Following a heated argument, Bruce stormed out of the studio and Hank had to dub on the rhythm guitar part himself!
NB. CD Track running order.
To the best of our knowledge & belief the month/year of the UK release date of the original recordings are accurate.
Summer Holiday – Cliff Richard and The Shadows (Columbia DB 4977)
This massive hit from 1963, never released as an instrumental track at the time was released many, many years later on the CD ‘Hank Plays Cliff’. Written by Bruce Welch and Brian Bennett within the space of 15 minutes after the film’s producers announced that they urgently needed a title track for the movie! It serves as a fitting tribute to the great guitar playing of Hank Marvin.