Friday, November 18, 2011

"Have 'Twangy' Guitar Will Travel," by Duane Eddy (June, 1959)

Dad's Take:

As a surf guitar fan, I can't ignore Duane Eddy's influence on one of my favorite genres. The reverb-drenched twangy instrumental tunes of Duane Eddy helped give birth to that genre a year or so after this album came out. Duane Eddy's combo, featuring Eddy on guitar, a sax, bass, and drum, became the model for surf bands.

But one thing should be made clear: this is not surf music. Eddy created a kind of fusion of rock and roll, jazz, country, and even a touch of exotica (without the sound effects). "Rebel Rouser" is one of the true classics of instrumental rock and roll. It's probably the best known song on this collection, but it is definitely not the only one worth listening to. "The Lonely One" is also well-known, "Ramrod" is as energetic as any future surf tune, and even the lesser-known songs are good. I didn't find a single clunker on this record. This is what the Chet Atkins album we listened to earlier could have been if Atkins used a band and had a little more energy.

This is good stuff. Duane Eddy is too often overlooked in the lists of musical pioneers of the 1950s and early 1960s. Go out and pick this up, or some other Duane Eddy collection, You won't hear the pyrotechnics of a Jimi Hendrix or the speed of a Dick Dale, but neither of them would have been what they were without Duane Eddy being there first.

Brad's Take:

Strangely, I'd never heard of Duane Eddy until now. Doing a quick Wikipedia search on the guy, I learned a couple of pretty interesting things:

1. He was the first rock n' roll musician to have his own signature guitar model. So many musicians still do this today so it's pretty cool to me that he was actually the first.

2. Four of the songs from this album were on the Top 100 Billboard chart. This is interesting to me because you don't see any instrumental tracks getting their way onto the Top 100 anymore, let alone one ("Rebel-Rouser") getting into the Top 10.

2. Duane Eddy's song "Moovin' N' Groovin" has a guitar riff that The Beach Boys "borrowed" for their song "Surfin' USA." Those of you who know my dad probably know that he's borderline obsessed with The Beach Boys so I have grown to know "Surfin' USA" pretty damn well. I was quite surprised to learn that the song's opening riff was indeed pretty similar to Duane Eddy's song.... I can't believe my own father would subject his children to such blatant plagiarism! ...That was actually internet sarcasm. E-sarcasm, if you will. The songs' riffs really don't sound that alike, but you can tell that Brian Wilson and the gang were tipping their hats to Mr. Eddy.

Duane's guitar playing is tasteful. He doesn't show off with crazy fast guitar solos. He stays true to the mood of the song and doesn't always overshadow the other instruments involved. But with that said, you can tell that Duane Eddy has some true talent and skill on the guitar.

I liked this album. It is a cool combination of 50's blues-inspired rock n' roll instrumentals with echo-ey surf guitar thrown into the mix. There's even some country tinged tunes on this album. 

1 comment:

Scott said...

You want blatant plagiarism involving Surfin' USA? Compare it to Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen."