In the first 20 years or so that Fender electric guitars were available, they helped revolutionize the sound of popular music. This unusual, imaginative compilation illustrates just how it did so through a couple of dozen or so well-chosen examples of how Fenders made their imprint on rock, blues, country, and soul music. The Fender's identification with certain guitarists made it predictable that there would be selections by, for example, surf legend Dick Dale ("Miserlou") and Eric Clapton (heard here on the Yardbirds' "I Ain't Got You"). But the remarkably eclectic song selection also features classics by Johnny Cash ("Folsom Prison Blues"), Dale Hawkins ("Susie-Q"), Booker T. & the MG's ("Green Onions"), the Ventures ("Walk, Don't Run") the Beach Boys ("Fun, Fun, Fun"), and all the way into the late '60s with the Velvet Underground's "Beginning to See the Light" and Donovan's "Barabajagal (Love Is Hot") -- two artists of the kind not usually featured on Ace anthologies. There are also songs that aren't such big hits but are worth hearing, like Otis Rush's "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)," the Shadows' "Wonderful Land" (a number one U.K. hit in 1962 unknown in the U.S.), and Jack Nitzsche's "The Lonely Surfer." The sound of the Fender bass isn't neglected either, with Jet Harris' "Besame Mucho" acting as a showcase for the instrument, although the onetime Shadow's 1962 version won't be familiar to many Americans. Amply illustrated liner notes fill in the background on how Leo Fender developed his guitars and how they were used. There are even a few brief Fender radio ads by country stars Hank Snow, Faron Young, Barbara Mandrell, and Jan Howard. But whether or not you're a guitar player or Fender follower, it's a good compilation of guitar-grounded music by any standard, though one obvious guitar hero (Jimi Hendrix) is not represented due to licensing hurdles. ~ Richie Unterberger
2012 collection, the CD companion to the glorious book of the same name that Octopus Publishing printed in 2010. It is the first time Ace has devoted a compilation to a musical instrument or a manufacturer of such and we feel we could not begin on a better note than with the story of Fender guitars. includes tracks from Bob Wills, Johnny Cash, Dale Hawkins and many others. Ace.
Liner Note Authors: Martin Kelly; Tony Bacon.
“Leo Fender’s contribution to the sound of modern music is immeasurable. The pop music explosion of the 1950s and 60s would not have happened without the electric guitar and, perhaps more importantly, the electric bass.”
So begins Martin Kelly’s notes for the CD of his book about Fender guitars. A book about music of course lacks the medium that it describes, so Martin came to Ace with a proposal to produce an accompanying CD that would make his pages even more vibrant. We were more than happy to celebrate the great sounds that Leo Fender helped conceive through his inspirational instruments.
As overseer of this CD, I was out of my depth in guitar minutiae, but was able to assist on the technical end and enjoyed a sharp learning curve in great guitar sounds. I thoroughly dug those ringing twangs of Bob Wills and Tennessee Ernie Ford. With Ike Turner and Otis Rush I was in more familiar music territory. The more poppy Crickets’ track ‘I’m Looking For Someone To Love’ was an inspired choice by Martin. It was the flip to the original ‘That’ll Be The Day’ which I’d managed to miss hearing for 55 years. ‘Suzie Q’ and the original ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ are better known numbers; listening to them in this guitar-based context gives them new relevance.
Guitar-led instrumentals were a must for the compilation and it is wonderful to relive the splendour of the Ventures’ signature tune and to hear the mighty Shadows at their most melodic. Breakaway Shadow Jet Harris then moves the spotlight to the renowned Fender bass on ‘Besame Mucho’. Booker T’s ‘Green Onions’ and Dick Dale’s ‘Miserlou’ are at the pinnacle of their genres and Jack Nitzche’s ‘Lonely Surfer’ shows how an inspired producer can use the guitar within a bigger production.
It is then back to basics with the Kingsmen’s ‘Louie Louie’, followed by Ronnie Hawkins’ ice-cold take on ‘Who Do You Love’. The Beach Boys and Bobby Fuller Four then demonstrate how to play straight down the middle pop: no frills but pure class. Then representing the awakening of British youth to the American dream, we have the Yardbirds’ take on Billy Boy Arnold’s ‘I Ain’t Got You’, a song that failed to score for its creator but became a belated blues classic once Eric Clapton had stamped his seal of approval on it.
Speaking of the blues, ‘Rock Me Baby’ by Otis Redding reminds us all that the world lost a brilliant blues singer, as well as the ultimate soul man, when his plane crashed in December 1967. By the time of this recording, Lewis Steinberg had been replaced by Duck Dunn on Fender Precision Bass duties.
As reflected by the Nashville-recorded Fender jingles, country music was always dominated by the guitar sounds of Fender. Buck Owens & the Buckaroos’ ‘Buckaroo’ features not only Fender electric and bass but acoustic too. The switch to the soul perfection of King Curtis’ ‘Memphis Soul Stew’ is surprisingly seamless and that city’s home-grown Willie Mitchell sound on ‘Soul Serenade’ shows how long-lived top flight R&B was down there. It is then just a year’s jump, but a small world away, to 1969 and the Velvet Underground’s 12-string Fenders. That is neatly followed by ex-Yardbird Jeff Beck on his Stratocaster and Stone-to-be Ron Wood playing a Telecaster bass; all in the admirable cause of helping Donovan’s ‘Goo Goo Barabajagal’ make musical if not literal sense.
I still may not be able to pick a Fender out in a crowd, but I now know how much listening pleasure I have derived from them.
1-Steel Guitar RagMcAULIFFE, Leon 2-Boot Hell DragWILLS, Bob & HIS TEXAS PLAYBOY 3-Catfish BoogieFORD, Tennessee Ernie & CLIFFE 4-Feelin' Good/Please Love Me From All The B...TURNER, Ike 5-Folsom Prison BluesCASH, Johnny 6-Fender Radio AdYOUNG, Faron 7-I'm Looking For Someone To LoveCRICKETS 8-Susie-QHAWKINS, Dale 9-All Your Love (I Miss Loving)RUSH, Otis 10-Walk - Don't RunVENTURES 11-Wonderful LandSHADOWS 12-Besame MuchoHARRIS, Jet 13-Green OnionsBOOKER T & MGs 14-MiserlouDALE, Dick & DEL-TONES 15-The Lonely SurferNITZSCHE, Jack 16-Louie LouieKINGSMEN 17-Who Do You Love?HAWKINS, Ronnie & HAWK 18-Fun, Fun, FunBEACH BOYS 19-I Fought The LawBOBBY FULLER FOUR 20-I Ain't Got YouYARDBIRDS 21-Rock Me BabyREDDING, Otis 22-Fender Radio AdSNOW, Hank 23-BuckarooOWENS, Buck & HIS BUCKAROOS 24-Fender Radio AdMANDRELL, Barbara 25-Memphis Soul StewCURTIS, King & KINGPINS 26-Soul SerenadeMITCHELL, Willie 27-Fender Radio AdHOWARD, Jan 28-Beginning To See The LightVELVET UNDERGROUND 29-Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)DONOVAN (2012/ACE) 29 tracks (66:17) with 20 page booklet.