Guitar legend’s career-spanning solo collection
(Crimson Records, out Friday 28 June 2019)
A welcome addition to any collection, Hank Marvin Gold is a career-spanning 50 years 3-CD set and 15-track vinyl album by one of the most celebrated guitarists the UK has produced and the inspiration of countless other guitar heroes, by anyone’s standard a true legend.
The 3-CD set focuses on Hank’s solo career, from his eponymous 1969 debut album through to his most recent top ten hit Without A Word in 2017. Hank is joined on this collection by guest appearances from Cliff Richard, Brian May and Duane Eddy, and he duets with Mark Knopfler on re-recordings of two of the classic hits Marvin made famous with The Shadows.
Marvin grew up in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne during the 1940s and 50s where he first learned to play banjo. He gigged with various skiffle groups in the area before he and his school pal, guitarist Bruce Welch, moved to London where they joined Cliff Richard’s backing band The Drifters, soon to become known as The Shadows.
The Shadows were the first backing group to emerge as stars in their own right and Marvin’s trademark, echoed picking on a red Fender Stratocaster, with generous use of the tremolo arm, is often regarded as the sound that inspired many of those that followed in his wake.
The tunes themselves need no introduction and Gold is not an anthology. Tracks old and new are shuffled into an easy-listening mix as the styles and tempos change, and no anthology would be complete without his incredible contribution to early 60s pop with The Shadows.
So, whilst The Shadows hits are readily available elsewhere, this pulls together the next chapter in Marvin’s career as he interprets many contemporary classics across 16 solo albums. The earliest tracks in the Gold collection are Sacha and a samba version of Windmills of Your Mind from his 1969 self-titled solo debut and Ebb Tide from his 1977 guitar orchestra experiment The Hank Marvin Guitar Syndicate. This is a funky little number that would grace any disco album of that period and with a personnel list that included the great Herbie Flowers and a young Chris Rea.
Hank had just two albums in the 80s but was quite prolific through the 90s including retrospective sets looking back over the hits of Cliff Richard, whose success Marvin was so closely associated with in the period, and Buddy Holly.
The Gold collection includes two recordings with guest vocals by Cliff, Heartbeat, the title track to Marvin’s 1993 solo album and a reworking of Cliff’s debut hit Move It from Hank Plays Cliff. The original Move It, edgy and raw, was recorded was before Marvin joined The Drifters/Shadows. This later version has a sophisticated 90s aire and original Drifters/Shadows guitarist/writer Ian Samwell wrote a new verse for this recording. The other tracks from Hank Plays Cliff – Summer Holiday, When The Girl In Your Arms and Wired For Sound – are instrumentals in the unmistakable Hank Marvin style.
The Heartbeat album also featured fellow Geordie Mark Knopfler on a re-recording of The Shadows classic Wonderful Land. Knopfler is just one of many legendary guitarists who cite Marvin as an influence. “When I was a kid, all I wanted was a red electric guitar. It had to be red because of Hank and his magical sound.”
In a conversation about technique with Martin Barre, guitarist with Jethro Tull for 45 years, he said: “These are things that I’ve always had and I hear about other guitar players, does one come to mind? Yes, Hank Marvin. When you sit in a room with him backstage and he starts playing this gypsy-jazz, he’s an amazing guitar player. Of course, what you know about him is The Shadows and all those instrumentals. It’s true of a lot of musicians, it’s an iceberg. What you see is what they are presenting and selling while under the surface there is a huge foundation of musical ideas and talent.”
Two other legends also make guest appearances on the Gold collection, Brian May on Marvin’s interpretation of We Are The Champions and Duane Eddy on Pipeline.
Commercially, Marvin’s most successful albums have come in the new century with four albums making the top ten. Three tracks are included from Marvin’s most successful release Guitar Man (number 6, 2007), the title track, Fields Of Gold and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. From his most recent offering Without A Word (number 8, 2017) we have Peter Gunn/Baby Elephant Walk, Moon River and The Doctor Who Theme.
Hank Marvin Gold is also issued on a 15-track vinyl edition and this gold-coloured 180g heavyweight vinyl LP features guest performances from Cliff Richard, Brian May, Duane Eddy and Mark Knopfler.