Nev salutes the vital sound of The Shadows.
there are very few bands that have inspired like the Shadows continue to do. In 1960 when hank Marvin, Bruce Welch, Jet harris and tony Meehan released their single apache they were already a hit as Cliff richard’s backing band. But with its thumping drums and bass, strident acoustic rhythm and beautifully melodic lead guitar, apache swept like a tidal wave through the youth of the day. teenage boys went bonkers over twangy, echo-laden guitars and the image of this band of lads – themselves still mostly teenagers. Such was the power of those three matching Fenders, that the British electric guitar industry also took off, with red the natural choice for the vast majority of instruments sold by companies like Watkins, Burns and Futurama.
Compared to many acts of the day, the Shadows’ sound was captured in beautiful hi-fidelity by producer Norrie Paramor in abbey road studios. Listening to the recordings today it’s impossible not to be struck by their simplistic beauty; or by the sheer quality of the playing from all concerned. Welch’s tight rhythm work on a Gibson J-200 and Hank’s definitive Strat, Meazzi echo and vox aC30 tone, set a standard that few contemporaries came anywhere near to emulating. this month’s cover feature by Phil Capone examines Bruce and hank’s styles closely, to see just what gave them their distinctive sounds. If you’ve ever had to perform Shadows numbers – I’ve recorded several for Gt including the Savage (with Bruce’s ‘strumming hand from hell’), apache and Wonderful Land – you’ll know it’s way trickier than you might think. It’s also immensely satisfying. even if you feel this kind of thing is beneath you technically, do have a go and you might be surprised how hard it actually is. Let me know how you get on. Neville Marten, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org