Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

Steve Allsworth tran­scribes another of this great group’s mem­o­rable in­stru­men­tals, so turn your echo on, grab that whammy and go!

It’s easy to un­der­es­ti­mate in to­day’s cur­rent mu­si­cal cli­mate, the mass ap­peal, suc­cess and in­flu­ence that the Shad­ows had, es­pe­cially in their early years. they had 69 UK chart sin­gles in the five decades from the 1950s to the 2000s, with just over half cred­ited to them purely as an in­stru­men­tal group and the rest as Cliff Richard and The Shad­ows. Third only be­hind Elvis and Cliff in the UK sin­gles chart, they are also cred­ited as be­ing the world’s most suc­cess­ful back­ing group. As the orig­i­nal pi­o­neers of the four-mem­ber rock group for­mat, they also played a piv­otal role in the de­vel­op­ment of the many thou­sands of gui­tar-based groups both in the UK and the abroad. In the pre-Bea­tles era from 1958 to 1962, the Shad­ows and Cliff were ar­guably the only ma­jor group.

Hank’s fa­mous fi­esta red Strat, played through a com­bi­na­tion of Vox amps and an Ital­ian Meazzi echomatic echo unit, is an im­me­di­ately iden­ti­fi­able sound that no doubt played its part in the de­vel­op­ment of in­stru­men­tal gui­tar mu­sic as we know it to­day.

This month’s track is one of The Shad­ows’ lesser-known tracks, de­spite reach­ing the num­ber two spot in the UK when it was re­leased as a sin­gle in 1963 and stay­ing in the charts for a fur­ther 17 weeks. The track was writ­ten by Jerry Lor­dan, who had al­ready found suc­cess with Apache, first recorded by Bert Wee­don. Lor­dan wasn’t keen on Bert’s ver­sion, so he played Apache back­stage on a ukulele while on tour with The Shad­ows and the band de­cided to record it there and then. When it was fi­nally re­leased in 1960 it topped the charts and stayed there for five weeks. Lor­dan went on to pen fur­ther in­stru­men­tal hits such as Won­der­ful Land, and Di­a­monds (for Shads’ bassist and drum­mer Jet Har­ris and Tony Meehan, although Licorice Lock­ing and Brian Ben­nett played on At­lantis).

After the band split in 1968 The Shad­ows re­ceived a sec­ond wave of suc­cess from the late 70s un­til their fi­nal breakup in 1990, but Hank has con­tin­ued to re­lease solo ma­te­rial ever since, plus there have been var­i­ous ‘re­union’ gigs. Like many of The Shad­ows’ best tracks, At­lantis fea­tures a sim­ple melody that uses chord tones ef­fec­tively, es­pe­cially over the lat­ter part of the theme (which uses a non-di­a­tonic D ma­jor chord for ex­am­ple). It also plays heav­ily on quar­ter-note triplets, although don’t feel that th­ese and many of the other rhythms need to be ab­so­lutely per­fect. Much of Hank’s mu­si­cal­ity comes from let­ting th­ese rhythms ebb and flow to give the melody more of a lyri­cal qual­ity.

I bumped into George Har­ri­son in Abbey Road and he told me how much he loved the sin­gle [My Baby Blue]. ‘Take my ad­vice’, he said, ‘for­get about be­ing an in­stru­men­tal group and follow up on the vo­cals.’ We didn’t. We were idiots. Nice boys, but idiots. Hank Marvin

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