Hank Marvin interview: 'The Shadows' album track by track
TG208 (on sale 29 October) features a cracking retrospective piece on The Shadows' debut album. Here, for the first time ever, instrumental guitar pioneer Hank Marvin gives a track-by-track guide to the record that launched a thousand guitar careers.
Words: Ed Mitchell
Interview: Roger Newell
© Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS
Shadoogie is a Shadows reworking of Arthur Smith's 1948 instrumental hit Guitar Boogie. The Shads were still gigging Smith's original version of the tune five weeks before the recording of Shadoogie. At some point during that five-week period The Shadows came up with their own version, but that wouldn't have happened in the recording studio at Abbey Road. Hank: "That would have been unacceptable to Norrie [Paramor, producer] and the record company. We had to go in prepared. The arrangement would pretty much be organised. We'd go in knowing what we were going to do."
2. Blue Star
"Blue Star I really like. It had a lovely charm to it. A lot of the fans from that period love it and say, Why don't you play it onstage? It's a classic little piece of the period."
This jazzy number features great dual electric guitar work from Hank and Bruce Welch and a throbbing walking bass solo from Jet Harris: "I used a Gretsch on Nivram to get more of a jazzy tone," says Hank. "It had a fairly 'clacky' sound when you dug into it... a different sound from the Strat. I think Bruce used his Gretsch as well. I had a Country Gentleman and he had a reddish, orange colour Gretsch [a G6120]. I think he probably used that. I don't know for sure. Nivram has stood the test of time. I still enjoy playing it."
© Terry Cryer/CORBIS
4. Baby My Heart
Written by Crickets guitarist Sonny Curtis, Baby My Heart features Hank on lead vocals. Apparently a lyric sheet wouldn't have gone amiss: "No-one knew the words, so I just sang the same verse twice! Of course recording then, we had to play and sing at the same time in a live situation. So, it was always a little frightening trying to sing and play a song you didn't really know. Totally stupid when you think about it!"
5. See You In My Drums
As the title suggests, See You in My Drums is a showcase for Tony Meehan's considerable percussion skills. While it features some riffing from Hank, he takes a step back and leaves Tony to it for a fair chunk of the song. As Hank says, "Why get in the way of the drums?"
6. All My Sorrows
All My Sorrows was originally performed by US folk group The Kingston Trio in 1959. The Shads version features all four guys on vocals. Hank: "Bruce and I had come out of the skiffle group period where some of the songs you're singing are based on folk songs or work songs and that sort of stuff. All My Sorrows wasn't a far cry from what we'd been doing a couple of years previously when we were at school to singing a song like this with the acoustic guitars. It wasn't really that far removed."
7. Stand Up And Say That
A piano-driven rocker (played on a "Steinway with very heavy gauge strings!"), Stand Up and Say That was heavily influenced by legendary Nashville pianist Floyd Cramer. "While we were obviously appreciative of the success that we had with the singles and EPs, we all had the thought that we needed to get some variety onto the album. I'd been messing around with this Floyd Cramer-esque thing and we thought, Why not stick it in there?"
© Thierry Orban/CORBIS SYGMA
Gonzales sounds like the theme from a Western and motors along with some great acoustic guitar playing from Bruce. "Yeah, that was a good roaring number onstage," says Hank. "There's a lot of energy in there. I'm pretty sure I was on the middle pickup [of his Fender Stratocaster] for that one on the record. It sounds a little bit sweeter than the bridge pickup."
9. Find Me A Golden Street
Despite a beautiful laidback melody and some fine vibrato work from Hank, Find Me a Golden Street never made it into The Shadow's live set: "If you played top of the bill you did 30 minutes, top whack," says Marvin. "By then we'd had quite a few hits, so it didn't take long until the 30 minutes was filled up. So some numbers we just never played live at all."
10. Theme From A Filleted Place
Great fish pun title, but the twin guitar hook sounds a bit like a scale exercise on this one: "Not a great tune," Hank says. "It was just a little novelty thing with dual guitars."
11. That's My Desire
Old school crooner That's My Desire features rhythm guitarist Bruce Welch on lead vocals: "This is a song that we'd heard by a group called Dion And The Belmonts," says Hank. "We used to get these records sent from the States to listen to, from publishers over there. They would say, what do you think of this? Or they would just send things out of curiosity. Cliff and I got a lot of stuff that you couldn't get in the UK. When we heard That's My Desire we thought, 'That's really good. It might be nice to try to do a version of this.' So we tried!"
© Bob King/Corbis
12. My Resistance Is Low
This keen cover of a 1951 Hoagy Carmichael tune demonstrates the incredible depth that Hank could coax from the bottom strings of his Strat. Marvin didn't tune down and he puts that huge sound down to the strings that came fitted to the guitar: "Someone at the Fender Custom Shop who was around at that time reckoned it came out with .013s on it with a wound third. So, they were very heavy strings."
Santo and Johnny's '59 instrumental classic has been covered by such legends as Danny Gatton, Brian Setzer and Joe Satriani. The Shads version is achingly beautiful if a tad brief: "I was a little a bit disappointed in that version because we shortened it for the record," says Hank. "We got cold feet and thought it was possibly a bit too long, which in hindsight was kind of stupid. I think the live version, the one available on the South African EP [Live at The Colosseum, 1961], is much more gutsy and representative of The Shadows as they were."
14. Big Boy
Exhilarating rocker Big Boy will make you want to play The Shadows over again. At least, that's the effect it has on us. It made slightly less of an impression on Hank: "I'm trying to remember it!"