http://www.acerecords.com Spanning twenty years, this 28-track compilation brings together a varied and exciting selection of musicians and styles but with one thing in common and that is the fact guitar maker, Leo Fenders’ famed Telecaster (previously to 1951 it had been called the Broadcaster) and Stratocaster guitars appear on most all tracks. All but the opening two where you have Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys’ Herb Remington (Fender Custom) playing ‘Boot Heel Drag’ and Jimmy Bryant (Broadcaster) with Tennessee Ernie Ford with Cliffie Stone’s Band do a little bit ‘Catfish Boogie’, and when the going became tough you could always rely on Johnny Cash (‘Folsom Prison’) and that boom-chicka-boom beat (and of course Fender guitar —this time is an Esquire played by Luther Perkins who produces the distinctive sound).
At first America’s then main guitar makers, Gibson and Gretsch and the rest were keen to dismiss Leo Fender’s new creations as artists rushed out to buy the new invention and Gibson weren't long in introducing the solid-body Les Paul model in a bid to match the Fender company's innovation. Crossing the ocean to England, The Shadows were among the first to utilise the distinctive Stratocaster sound as heard here on the instrumental ‘Wonderful Land’ (that not only has Hank Marvin on lead but Jet Harris play a Fender Precision Bass, the same line-up of instruments also feature on ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ (Beach Boys) and perennial favourite ‘I Fought The Law’ (The Bobby Fuller Four). A couple of infectious pieces if they ever were! Likewise could be said for Robbie Robertson’s work on ‘Who Do You Love? when he was in The Hawks soon to become The Band, backing Ronnie Hawkins. The raw energy transferred to the Bo Diddley composition is of the kind few acts would dare to try and match (at best).
Donovan’s ‘Barabajagal’ that has Jeff Beck (Stratocaster) and Ronnie Wood Telecaster Bass) elevate the song to a level it otherwise wouldn’t have obtained. The players are as near well know if not more so in some quarters than the people they were playing such their handling of a Fender guitar. Like in the words of country act, Jan Howard (‘you (can) tell by the sound it’s a Fender) and Faron Young who rubbed shoulders with country music’s greats and if were he still alive have the stories to prove it! Plus the sweet singing, multi-instrumentalist Barbara Mandrell also has one of her radio ads included. Talking of country greats I can’t end this review without a mention of Buck Owens and his Buckaroos that has Don Rich produce juicy licks (Telecaster) with Doyle Holly on Jazz Bass and Owens on King acoustic guitar for red-hot instrumental ‘Buckaroo’, that is so good it prompted Emmylou Harris to record it on a live album with her Hot Band! When it comes to a funky, blues sound then take a listen to King Curtis & The Kingpins as they cook-up ‘Memphis Soul Stew’ courtesy of ace session man Reggie Young (Stratocaster) and Jerry Jemmott (Jazz Bass).
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