Numerous best-of/and greatest hits collections have been issued for 1986’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Duane Eddy. But Real Gone Music’s 2017 “Guitar Star” is the only collection of all of Eddy’s singles (both A & B sides) that were released by the RCA Victor label during the early to mid-sixties. Remastered (in mono) from RCA’s vaults these original tapes sound surprisingly fresh, vibrate with energy, and (from an audiophile perspective) are remarkably crisp and clear. All in all twenty-two tracks are included, fifteen authored or co-written by either Eddy and/or Lee Hazelwood,) taken from eleven double-sided, seven inch – forty-five RPM singles.
Eddy was born in Corning, NY, on April 26th, 1938. When Duane was thirteen his family moved to Arizona, by the late fifties and under the guidance of producer Lee Hazlewood; Eddy released a series of instrumental records for the Jamie label that introduced his (rapidly) developing twang and reverb signature guitar effect. By 1962 Eddy moved on from Jamie and signed with Paul Anka’s production company Camy that was licensed to RCA. During his RCA period Eddy lays down perhaps the earliest attempts at Surf music, a Western TV takeoff, several blues tunes, out-of-space tunes (which were the eras rag) including David Gates’ (the same later-day co-leader of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted group: Bread) “Moon Shot,” plus covers of Jackie DeShannon’s and Sharon Sheeley’s “Guitar Child,” Max Steiner’s well-known classic “Theme from a Summer Place,” and more.
The opening “Deep in the Heart of Texas” is a slice of Americana as exhibited by Eddy’s distinctive style. Eddy’s “Saints and Sinners” rides the railroad with an apparent riff from “Secret Agent Man” which didn’t make its debut until 1966, yet “Saints and Sinners” was released in ’62; hmm… Remember the TV series “Have Gun – Will Travel” with tough-guy cowboy for hire; Paladin played by Richard Boone who co-wrote “The Ballad of Paladin” is majestically covered in giddy-up fashion with Hazelwood’s supervision who smartly segue with Eddy’s and Hazelwood’s probable flipside “The Wild Westerners” reminiscent of the alternate Paladin ballad. Twist-time with “(Dance with the) Guitar Man” is hip with lady singers which could have been used in one of those beach party movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. I really dug the Bluesy groove on “Stretchin’ Out,” especially with the sax, piano and guitar interplay. “Boss Guitar” seemingly utilizes the identical background singers as “(Dance with the) Guitar Man” with a comparable Watusi dance beat. “The Desert Rat” initially feels like it was lifted from Karloff horror-flick that gets down with a simmering Blues beat with Major Holley like standup bass. Speaking of Blues checkout Eddy’s acoustic playing on “Joshin’” especially during the intro where he’s playing in a solo setting, the band eventually enters stripped down – without clutter; making it one of my favorite tunes included. Back to the beach with “Your Baby’s Gone Surfin’,” is pretty wild especially when one of the female vocalists jumps to the forefront during the fade. “Shuckin’” is much like “Joshlin’,” with another (yet shorter) solo acoustic guitar intro followed be a tasty piano segment where the tempo quickens and swings during sax break. “The Son of Rebel Rouser” rolls when the organist enters and throughout as everyone sounds like they’re at a kooky sixties party. There’s bossa-nova too with the aforementioned “Guitar Child” cover featuring female and male singers, saxophone, but odd whistling. “Jerky Jalopy” stutters along with a crystal clear guitar solo. Is that Funicello “Water Sking” at another cool surf party? Keeping with the summer subject “Theme from a Summer Place” is sweetly executed until overused background vocalists and violins stroll in, though it’s still a gorgeous song with Eddy’s instantly recognizable guitar tone. A chorus of male vocalist’s intro the seashore feeling cover “Guitar Star” that’s reminiscent of early Beach Boys. Hazelwood’s “The Iguana” suggests a bolero with a full and well thought out horn chart propelled by Eddy’s sparse yet clever guitar picking. Bang-zoom we’re off to the moon at Cape Canaveral (near the beach again) for an uplifting “Moon Shot.” The album concludes with Eddy’s rollicking “Roughneck” with a few too many vocalized “yahoos,” yet it’s thumping and fiery.
The generous twenty-page booklet by Ed Osborne features a recent interview with the seventy-nine year old Eddy who has been seen touring the UK as recent as 2011. Osborne’s fine essays are complimented with rare European picture sleeves and photos from RCA’s archives.
This isn’t a complete early career overview, Jamie released Eddy’s hits between 1958 and1960, “Guitar Star” includes Duane Eddy’s second earliest bodies of work recorded from 1962 through 1964. Nonetheless; take an unforgettable ride down memory lane and enjoy the unmistakable guitar sound Eddy perfected during this era.
(*) Note: Owning this collection should be mandatory for almost every guitar fan and guitarist. Enjoy.
Bob Putignano: Homegrown & On-Demand Sounds of Blue Radio Shows: Always on 24×7 at: www.soundsofblue.com/radioshowsmp3.htm
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