CD Review: Gold – Hank Marvin

AUDIO_DIGISLEEVE_6pp_3_SLEEVES_ADS06002“When I was a kid, all I wanted was a red electric guitar. It had to be red because of Hank and his magical sound.” The words of Mark Knopfler, recalling how as a Geordie lad he dreamed of becoming a guitarist, just like his hero HANK MARVIN. Me? I made do with a tennis racket, miming to the likes of Apache, Man of Mystery and FBI. And my appreciation of Hank has never diminished through cheesy TV shows and jolly BFI-style films, Eurovision Song Contests…..and the rest.

In June the awesome guitar legend released a career spanning 3CD set as part of Crimson Records’ successful Gold series (T. Rex, Chas & Dave, Leo Sayer, Showaddywaddy, and coming soon The Average White Band, Belinda Carlisle, Kiki Dee). This 3-disc set focuses on Hank’s solo career, from his eponymous 1969 debut album through to his 2017 Top-Ten album Without A Word. There are guest appearances from Cliff Richard, Brian May and Duane Eddy, and he duets with Mark Knopfler on re-recordings of two classic Shadows hits.

But it was only when researching I realised how little I knew about him. I didn’t know he too was a Geordie, growing up in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne during the 1940s/50s. I didn’t know about his skiffle origins, playing the banjo with various local skiffle groups before he and school pal, guitarist Bruce Welch, moved to London where they joined Cliff Richard’s backing band and became known as The Shadows. And the rest, as they say, is history.

A history that began with Cliff & The Shadows early chart-toppers ‘Move It’, ‘Living Doll’ and ‘Travellin’ Light’, which in turn kick-started a truly awesome string of 43 Top 20 hit singles in just ten years, whilst The Shadows alone scored five No.1 hits that included the instrumental hit of the decade Apache. Indeed The Shadows pioneering line up of two guitars, bass and drums had over thirty hits. Yes, even Mr Marvin was progressive back in the day……..

His oft-imitated style of metallic echoed picking on a red Fender Stratocaster – with generous employment of tremolo arm – is often rightly regarded as the sound that inspired numerous guitar heroes such as: Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Brian May, Neil Young and, of course, the aforementioned Mark Knopfler.  

Three decades as a Shadow and more than 60 years in the limelight, this bloke is not just a musical legend but a national treasure. Right at the start of the first CD the unmistakable tone of guitar can be heard, so clear, so true to the melody, so polished, so precise. And then there is the tremolo, subtle in usage but essential to the unique, yet oft copied, sound. But then you realise the astonishing use of the guitar neck hitting the highest notes so cleanly and retaining the melodic touch, but also getting the earthly lowest notes to evoke Dick Dale at times. And finally the glorious harmonic use of multiple strings that provide those moments of crescendo or alternative dynamic. This may not be a sound or style that progressed, but it confidently evolved to be better incorporated across genres and popular eras alike, in classy arrangements of many well known covers and lesser known album tracks. It’s on the latter, btw, that you hear Hank stretch himself into less familiar territory – on Sacha or the funky Captain Zlogg for example. Oh, and there’s even the occasional vocal in there – yes, really! Indeed, one track, ‘Don’t Answer’, sounds like John Wetton and Asia!!

Talking of covers, it is interesting to hear how some remain relatively faithful whilst others are transformed. Bread’s ‘Guitar Man’ gets a boogie shuffle, Buddy Holly’s ‘Peggy Sue’ has a lovely coda and his ‘True Love Ways’ has a reggae lilt, the Beatles’ ‘Ticket to Ride’ is a veritable blues-fest and ‘While my Guitar gently weeps’ is surprisingly potent with a more upbeat treatment. The ones he remains more faithful to are treated with respect and reverence, and sound all the better for it. ‘Allman Brothers’ ‘Jessica’ sounds like it is owned by him, for example. ‘Fields of Gold’ is just one showcase for his acoustic talents – indeed his excellent use of nylon and steel acoustic is oft overlooked (‘Hotel California is the best example, given a toe-tapping Ricky Martin samba makeover). Finally, his lengthy association with Cliff is revisited with a pop-rock version of ‘Move It’, whilst ‘Devil Woman’, ‘Wired for Sound’ and even ‘Summer Holiday’ get the Fender treatment. And the Shadows’ own ‘Wonderful Land’ is as glorious as ever, with some subtle Knopfler touches (oh, and Nivram with the two engaged in a glorious swing shuffle is absolutely excellent).

Hank Marvin_StudioBTS_Jan2017_ByJ.Rotham (107 of 112) cropAs an album reflecting on his amazing longevity in the business, it’s inevitable that some sounds have fared less well than others, but even so, the production is crisp and crystal clear throughout. His interpretations of so many well known songs are silky smooth and beautifully considered. Even if the self-penned or lesser-known songs pale slightly in comparison to the worldwide hits, this album is still an absolute delight from start to finish. Now, where did I put that tennis racket?

Available from – everywhere!

CD cat no: CRIMCD634 – Barcode: 654378063428 3 CD LP cat no: DEMREC436 – Barcode: 5014797899698 – 180g Gold colour Vinyl LP

CD1

  1.   The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
  2.   Sealed With A Kiss
  3.   Peggy Sue
  4.   Ebb Tide
  5.   Love Is All Around
  6.   Guitar Man
  7.   Sacha
  8.   True Love Ways
  9.   Captain Zlogg
  10. Life Line
  11. Moon River
  12. Ticket To Ride
  13. The Hawk And The Dove
  14. Invisible Man
  15. Jessica
  16. This Guy’s In Love With You
  17. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  18. Go Jimmy
  19. Fields Of Gold
  20. Summertime

CD2

  1.   Move It (feat. Cliff Richard)
  2. Wonderful Land (feat. Mark Knopfler)
  3.   Slow Down
  4.   (Everything I Do) I Do It For You
  5.   Flamingo
  6.   Don’t Answer
  7.   We Are The Champions (feat Brian May)
  8.   Midnight At The Oasis
  9.   Peter Gunn/ Baby Elephant Walk
  10. Live And Let Die
  11. Rainy Day Goodbye
  12. California Girls
  13. Devil Woman
  14. Leila (Danny’s Got A Song For You)
  15. Bird Of Beauty
  16. Summer Holiday
  17. Light My Fire
  18. I Only Have Eyes For You
  19. James Bond Medley

CD3

  1.   Pipeline (feat. Duane Eddy)
  2.   Wired For Sound
  3.    Don’t Talk
  4.    Killing Me Softly
  5.  Syndicated
  6.    Hotel California
  7.    Into The Light
  8.    Nivram (feat. Mark Knopfler)
  9.     All Alone With Friends
  10. La Bamba
  11. Theme From ‘Poirot’
  12. When The Girl In Your Arms Is the Girl in Your Heart
  13. Windmills Of Your Mind
  14. Heartbeat (vocals Cliff Richard)
  15. Raining In My Heart
  16. Rave On
  17. Oxygene (Part IV)
  18. Doctor Who Theme
  19. The Fool On The Hill
  20. Waterloo Sunset

Hank_Marvin_Gold_3CD_HI-RES_3D copy

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