Listen: Rebel-Rouser / Duane Eddy & His Twangy Guitar DuaneEddyRebel.mp3
Did you know that Duane Eddy combined single-note melodies by bending the low strings and adding echo, a vibrato bar (Bigsby), and tremolo – thereby producing a signature sound unlike anything that had been heard prior – the sound that would be featured on an unprecedented string of thirty four chart singles, fifteen of which made the Top 40 and sales of over 100 million worldwide? Me neither. I read it on Wikipedia.
He was not alone in the creation. Then disc jockey Lee Hazelwood became his partner in 1954, taking on role of producer and co-writer. ‘Rebel-Rouser’ is one of those songs that probably every last human being has heard, but didn’t know it. Well I hope so at least. Peaking at #6, it was also his biggest chart success.
Listen: Stalkin’ / Duane Eddy & His Twangy Guitar DuaneEddyStalkin.mp3
It’s B side, ‘Stalkin” is a whole other story. Now this is more the dark side sound that helped invent one of the most potent threads in music, a line followed by The Gun Club, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, The White Stripes and most importantly, The Cramps. And of those bands alone, there were endless unsuccessful imitators.
It just oozes of girls in tight sparkly capri pants and spiked heels, slowly grooving their hips to the the record as it spun in the jukebox at a local malt shop.
Listen: Your Baby’s Gone Surfiin’ / Duane Eddy DuaneEddySurfin.mp3
Everyone jumped on the surf craze in the early 60′s. For Duane Eddy, it actually was a perfect fit. He kind of invented the sound, a seamless musical transition from rockabilly to the white kid, carefree, silver spoon lifestyles of surfers. Despite ‘Your Baby’s Gone Surfin” hardly denting the Billboard Hot 100 (#93), I remember it vividly. Even bought the single, or had someone buy it for me more likely. Little did I know, his band, The Rebels, had become Phil Spector’s regular studio outfit. Makes perfect sense then that The Blossoms, also vocal backup regulars on Spector sessions, provided all the singing here. Yes, that’s Darlene Love you’re hearing, just as you might be suspecting.
Listen: Shuckin’ / Duane Eddy DuaneEddyShuckin.mp3
B side ‘Shuckin”, you gotta love the song titles, sounds like a routine jam with the sole purpose of churning out a flip to ‘Your Baby’s Gone Surfin”. Even so, the natural groove makes it a keeper. How many of these would they knock out in a day? I’m scared to reckon. Somewhere there are tape vaults….
Listen: This Guitar Was Made For Twangin’ / Duane Eddy DuaneEddyRepriseUSB.mp3
Once the Nancy Sinatra success train was powering full steam ahead, on her Dad’s Reprise label, with Lee Hazelwood ably handling all production and songwriting, my guess is he suggested Duane Eddy be added to the roster. A seemingly under thought covers album of then current day hits, THE BIGGEST TWANG OF THEM ALL, allowed for one original ‘This Guitar Was Made For Twangin”. Despite a basic instrumental re-write of ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’, he retains full writer credit, well at least as far as the label copy reads. I have to believe behind the curtain, there was a handshake share with Lee Hazelwood, writer of ‘Boots’ – or maybe not. He was the producer, it didn’t sell, and who cares anyways. Luckily the track was issued as a single.