Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Duane Eddy

I had 2 Duane Eddy albums and a few singles. Some of the singles came from Sound Exchange. Pepe, Peter Gunn, Yep! all came from 45s. One of the albums was $1,000,000 Worth Of Twang, an old collection on Jamie, and I got an old copy, an old beat up copy, picked it up at Pyramid Records like so many others.

The RCA stuff, that came from a new LP, a reissue produced by Ethel Gabriel, or so it said on the cover. I got that at Gambles, a department store which is now Zellers, and used to be Clark’s, before it was Gambles.

Clark’s was a pioneer single floor “discount” department store, a novelty in its day, though the concept has now been reduced to obscenity by Wal-Mart. I bought a few albums there in its various incarnations; besides Duane Eddy I remember buying Joe Cocker and Fragile by Yes, but that narrative will have to wait.

The RCA album was actually well-done. It had a remake of Rebel Rouser, which I suppose was unnecessary, and deceptive (it fooled me until I learned better). Besides that it had all 7 of Eddy’s RCA top 100 singles. The other collection was, as I say, released many many years ago, when Eddy was still recording for Jamie, and so it could not and did not have all his Jamie hits, which number 20. It has 11 of said 20. I have the 3 others I mentioned before. That leaves; Ramrod, Theme From Dixie, Shazam!, My Blue Heaven, Ring Of Fire, Drivin’ Home, and The Son Of Rebel Rouser.

But Duane Eddy, he played guitar. He was billed as “Duane Eddy and his Twangy Guitar” and I read somewhere that he achieved the twang effect by playing through some kind of metal pipe, like a wide water pipe or something. It’s hard for me to believe, though, that all his records were made that way. Perhaps he stumbled on it accidentally, and his producer found a way to do it electronically.

His producer, the man behind the sound, was Lee Hazelwood, who would later be the man behind Nancy Sinatra, going as far as to sing duets with her.

Eddy doesn’t sound like a brilliant guitarist. The hook here is not virtuosity; it’s style, production, attitude. What you hear is rock and roll, pure fun, no compromise – his music features catchy tunes, kick ass sax, piano, a liberal sprinkling of yelps. It’s got that anyone-can-do-it feel about it, but anyone didn’t do it. Duane Eddy did.

Oh, and by the way, he plays the guitar solo on Rock And Roll Lullaby by B. J. Thomas.

Duane Eddy:

Rebel Rouser – Rebel Rouser is in a class of its own among rock and roll instrumentals. My best guess is a 2/4 time signature, and the result is a constant groove. It’s the sax that’s shouting in your ear to get up and dance, and it’s the “twangy” guitar that dances you round the room. From the summer of 1958.
Cannonball – Could be about diving, could be about artillery, could just be a great groove. From the winter of 1958 / 1959.
The Quiet Three – The title suggests a movie soundtrack, but I have no idea. There are strings on this, and it shows a more mellow side of Eddy’s artistry. From the summer of 1959, the B side of 40 Miles Of Bad Road.
Bonnie Came Back – My Bonnie, Duane Eddy style. Personally I don’t think there’s any way to save this song, My Bonnie it is, and My Bonnie it will always be. The Beatles couldn’t save it either. Ray Charles had a crack at it too. From the winter of 1960.
Because They’re Young – This is almost a ballad; maybe it is a ballad. From the summer of 1960.
Theme For Moon Children – The title gives it a slightly otherworldy feel, which maybe it would have anyway, and maybe it wouldn’t…
Movin’ And Groovin’ – Rebel Rouser gets all the credit, but this piece of non-stop groove was Eddy’s first hit, such as it was (it only reached number 58 on Billboard). From the winter of 1958.
The Lonely One – Propelled by some unusual but subtle percussion, this was a hit in the winter of 1959.
Forty Miles Of Bad Road – A song for Montreal potholes, with a lot of yelping. From the summer of 1959.
Some Kinda Earthquake – This sounds more like a major headwind than an earthquake. From the fall of 1959.
First Love, First Tears – Most of his songs were original, but obviously a few were not. This sounds like it must have been by someone else, with words. He slows things down here, the strings aren’t exactly Mantovani, but they are more up front and centre, and the chorus sounds like it’s straight out of Les Baxter. The B side of Some Kinda Earthquake, a hit in the fall of 1959.
Kommotion – Not the CCR song (that’s Commotion, anyway). Strings again, but country sounding. From the fall of 1960.
Your Baby’s Gone Surfin’ – Given surf music’s penchant for reverb, it was only to be expected that Duane Eddy would dive into the surf music phenomenon. But apart from the title and the lyrics (yes there are lyrics on this one, the matchless vocals of The Rebels) it’s not clear that this really qualifies as surf music. No matter, it is what it is. A hit in the fall of 1963.
Rebel Rouser – The RCA remake, virtually indistinguishable from the original.
Boss Guitar – Here is where it becomes self-referential. In application development we call it “reflection.” Another song with female chorus, this one from the winter of 1963.
My Baby Plays The Same Old Song On His Guitar All Night Long – Sounds like a complaint, doesn’t it. But the lyrics are ambiguous, the comfort of repetition vs. the monotony.
Fireball Mail – Duane shares the spotlight with someone playing some mean electric picking on this remake of an old country standard, done by Roy Acuff, among others. Chug chug a chug, sing the girls, in case you didn’t get that it was about a train…
High Noon – The Tex Ritter hit (also by Frankie Laine). Just the music and some oohs and ahhs, though.
Dance With The Guitar Man – Alternatively titled (Dance With The) Guitar Man, this piece of 100% groove reached number 12 in the winter of 1962 / 1963. “We’re gonna dance” sing the girls, “dance to the guitar man, here he comes now!” and Duane comes with that twang, and it sends shivers up your spine…
Yep! – That’s what they keep yelling. Typical Eddy. A hit in the spring of 1959.
Peter Gunn – Written and originally performed by Henry Mancini for the 1959 TV show, Peter Gunn was a hit for Ray Anthony before Eddy put it back on the chart in the fall of 1960, rocking it up like it was meant to be done. ELP had a good time with this one also.
Pepe – From the winter of 1961.
The Ballad Of Paladin – The theme from the TV show Have Gun Will Travel, it was Johnny Western who sang this every week. It’s probably better without the words anyway. Eddy sticks pretty close to the original, with all the drama intact. The tune, by the way, was lifted from Hummingbird (the Les Paul & Mary Ford / Frankie Laine hit from 1955). From the summer of 1962.
Deep In The Heart Of Texas – A hit for Bing Crosby. He probably picked it up from Gene Autry. From the spring of 1962.
Lonely Boy, Lonely Guitar – Music as therapy. From the summer of 1963.
Limbo Rock – The hit version of this was by The Champs. Chubby Checker did the version with words.
Wildwood Flower – Not the Jim Stafford song. This is an old country classic.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"First Love, First Tears" was written by Duane Eddy and Lee Hazlewood.

Years later, Ry Cooder would record it for the soundtrack of the film, "Streets of Fire".

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