Archive for March, 2017

That is on my Mind

“That is on my Mind” is another original composition intended to combine the feel and ambience of a sixties guitar instrumental with slightly more complex (and hopefully more interesting) musical content, structure and harmonies than were typical at that time.

March 31, 2017 at 2:42 pm Leave a comment

Diamonds

“Diamonds” was a huge instrumental hit in the UK for Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, sitting at #1 for three weeks in 1963. There is lots of interesting background here.

The tune was written by Jerry Lordan, composer of the guitar classic “Apache” and a number of other hits for the Shadows. An interesting detail about the original recording is that Jimmy Page played acoustic guitar on the track; it was one of his first gigs as a session player.

Bassist Harris and drummer Meehan were originally one half of the Shadows — along with guitarists Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch — until Meehan left in 1961 and Harris in 1962. Meehan left to become a producer and session musician at Decca records. Harris pursued a solo career. Together they had three hits in the UK, of which “Diamonds” was the first.

Born in 1939, Jet Harris’ given name was Terence. The nickname “Jet” resulted from his prowess as a sprinter in secondary school. He was alcoholic, which essentially ruined his career in the 1960’s. However, he eventually overcame it and remained active musically until his death from cancer in 2011. In 2010, Harris was presented with a special award from the Fender guitar company for his assistance in launching their bass guitar in the UK in 1960.

As a producer at Decca records, Tony Meehan was involved with Decca’s notable failure to sign the Beatles in 1962. He produced a number of demo recordings for their audition, including both covers and Lennon-McCartney originals. Decca rejected the Beatles choosing The Tremeloes instead, who auditioned the same day as The Beatles.

Meehan quit the music industry in the 1990s to become a psychologist — the result of a lifelong interest. He worked in London at a local college lecturing in psychology until his death in 2005. BBC News reported that Meehan died as a result of head injuries, following a fall down the main staircase at his London flat.

March 30, 2017 at 9:44 am Leave a comment

Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying

This is my instrumental cover of “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” It was written by Gerry Marsden and was the breakthrough hit for Gerry and the Pacemakers in 1964. My arrangement plays it pretty straight.

March 26, 2017 at 3:29 pm Leave a comment

Ferry Cross the Mersey

“Ferry Cross the Mersey” is a song I’ve done multiple times before; I guess I keep thinking I should do better for such a great tune.

Not many people know that this great song was actually written to be the title track of a movie. Beatles manager Brian Epstein also managed Gerry and the Pacemakers, and put the film together to feature them much as he had with the Beatles.

March 26, 2017 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Shadow State

“Shadow State” is another original composition intended to combine the feel and ambience of a sixties guitar instrumental with slightly more complex harmonies than were typical at that time.

March 25, 2017 at 9:24 am Leave a comment

Shadows of a Doubt

“Shadows of a Doubt” is an original composition intended to combine the feel and ambience of a sixties guitar instrumental with slightly more complex harmonies than were typical at that time.

March 23, 2017 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

Thank You Girl

“Thank You Girl” was released as the “B” side of “From Me to You” in England and the “B” side to “Do You Want to Know a Secret” in the USA.

Credited to Lennon-McCartney — as were all their songs — this one apparently was the result of the two working together “eyeball to eyeball”. It is a shout out of thanks to their female fans.

My instrumental arrangement preserves the basic feel and form of the original.

March 21, 2017 at 6:59 am Leave a comment

Mustang

“Mustang” was first released on a 4- song EP (Extended Play) record by the Shadows in 1961 that also included the “Theme From Shane”, the “Theme From Giant”. and a drum solo titled “Shotgun”.

Written by Jerry Lordan — who also penned the classic guitar instrumental “Apache” and a number of other Shadows hits — it shows the fascination that the British had with the “wild west” aspect of the USA.

My arrangement is based on the original but has several differences. In my opinion the drum part of the original is more military in feel than evocative of horses; my drum part is more equestrian. I also adjusted the form to what I feel is a more interesting sequence of sections.

 

March 18, 2017 at 5:52 pm Leave a comment

Theme From Shane

“Shane” is a 1953 American Western film from Paramount, noted for its Oscar-winning cinematography. The picture was produced and directed by George Stevens and starred Alan Ladd in the title role.

The Shadows released a version of the movie’s main theme in 1961 on a 4-cut EP record. My arrangement is based on theirs.

March 17, 2017 at 3:09 pm Leave a comment

Galveston

“Galveston” was released in 1969 by Glen Campbell. Written by Jimmy Webb, it was the follow-up to “Wichita Lineman” (also a Webb song). It peaked at #4 in March of 1969.

March 16, 2017 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

The Heavies

“The Heavies” is surfer slang for big waves, typically over 12 feet. The Ventures 1963 album “Surfing” includes a track with this title. My version is basically a cover.

March 12, 2017 at 6:46 pm Leave a comment

Escape

“Escape” was originally a track on the Ventures 1966 album “Go With the Ventures”. While this particular album primarily features covers of top-40 hits, “Escape” was something of a return to their surf-rock roots.

My arrangement takes full advantage of the surf-rock feel while adding texture via additional guitar parts.

March 12, 2017 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

Bird Rockers

“Bird Rockers” was a 1965 Ventures single that did not chart. It was also a track on their 1965 album “The Ventures Knock Me Out”.

The use of a “fuzz” effect on the original track is noteworthy. 1965 was the year of the Rolling Stones “Satisfaction”, which introduced this pedal/effect to the music world.

My arrangement has a feel similar to the original Ventures recording, but somewhat different instrumentation — although I retained the “fuzz”.

March 10, 2017 at 6:19 pm Leave a comment

MacArthur Park

“MacArthur Park” was written by Jimmy Webb. Richard Harris was the first to record the song in 1968: his version peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Harris’ recording (arranged by Jimmy Webb) clocks in at over seven minutes; such a long track was unheard of at the time. Some of the lyrics — notably the “cake left out in the rain” — have come in for a fair amount of ridicule.

However, the music on its own is terrific, with wonderful tempo and meter changes. My instrumental arrangement shortens things up, but still is over 4 minutes. I hope you’ll hang on for the whole thing!

By the way, MacArthur Park is a real place — it is a popular spot in Los Angeles.

 

March 9, 2017 at 5:16 pm Leave a comment

Lonely Girl

“Lonely Girl” was the “B” side of the Ventures 1965 single “Diamond Head” and was also  on their 1964 album “The Ventures Knock Me Out”. Other than an added modulation, my recording is basically a straight cover.

March 8, 2017 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

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