VOL. 36 | NO. 5 | Friday, February 3, 2012
England critics love Duane Eddy’s new album
By Tim Ghianni
Duane Eddy looks over the reviews of his new album and laughs.
“The guys really outdid themselves writing,” says Eddy, whose Road Trip album was released last summer in England and, he hopes, will be available soon for his American fans.
Brit reviews, sampled on his website, are indeed pretty dazzling.
Mojo states the album’s “seductive marriage of raw electricity & mannish sophistication is a timeless celebration of amplified tone & dynamism.”
Uncut: “Eddy plays guitar the way Hemingway writes. These tunes sound ageless…”
Artrocker: “Road Trip fuses all the restorative power that you’d hope for from a comeback…along with a genuine sense of nostalgia.”
“I couldn’t believe the reviews I got in England,” says the genial Rock and Roll Hall of Famer as he relaxes in his Franklin home.
“They were all so positive. Some were prettier than the album. I thought ‘My God, I did that?’ Or ‘That album sounds that good?’ I know it sounds good, but these guys just confirmed it.”
All of this hubbub about an album that really couldn’t get cut in the States.
But it’s not surprising to find Eddy getting the nod to record in Britain. After all, it has been one of his hotbeds ever since he first experimented with his twang inside a 2,000-gallon water tank “echo chamber” behind a studio in the Arizona desert more than 40 years ago.
Road Trip was recorded in October 2010, with British stars like guitarist/co-producer Richard Hawley, bassist/co-producer Colin Elliot, guitarist Shez Sheridan, pianist Jon Trier, drummer Dean Beresford and sax by Ron Dziubla.
The group camped for 11 days in Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield and came out with a record that showcases the reason Eddy is the only solo instrumentalist-only act inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The Mad Monkey Records album – distributed by EMI – was pushed, shortly after release by an appearance at England’s storied Glastonbury Festival.
Eddy’s home page is filled with news about upcoming appearances in the U.K. and heart-cheering reviews.
It has Eddy positioned to climb the pop charts and stages again after a long absence from fresh recording.
“I thought I was done with that,” says Eddy, who was given the Mojo Icon Award at last year’s ceremony hosted by the U.K. rock journal. “Who knew? Who woulda thunk it? I guess I’ve still got a couple of years in me.”
Eddy is anxious to see if the madly-in-love praise for the album and the constant demand in the U.K. for performance translates when the album is released here. So far it’s only available as an import on Amazon.com.
“It remains to be seen if there is any interest in this particular album” when it gets general release in the States, he says.
The album’s existence in itself is partly attributable to his popularity among young Brit musicians, he says.
“There was just no interest (here) in another album” he says, explaining the 24-year gap between fresh recording projects, although there have been archival releases.
“I had been working on one here and we just did not have the interest. The record business is fickle and is very much of the moment.
“The kids are the main support of the record companies, and they are not interested in old guys like me. But I clean up pretty good.”
He says there was no pressing need to do a new recording, anyway, as he can still tour and play pretty much wherever he wants to.
Plus he’s realistic. “In this business, most people have a five-year run and then cool off. The Beatles lasted five years,” he says of the Fabs’ prime. He adds that the boys did “have pretty decent, nice careers individually,” but they weren’t the Beatles.
Other than the exceptions, Rod Stewart and Elton John – “they’ve had 40-year careers” – most pickers have their turns to shine.
“Most people have five good years of hits and then they get tired. I don’t know what it is. I had about five years and I’d done everything I could think of.”
Besides that, as an instrumentalist, it’s not like he could do cover versions of others’ great songs…. although he did that in 1965’s Duane Eddy Does Bob Dylan.
But Hawley and others in England helped kick the twang giant back to the future.
“We just went down there and started sitting around and writing,” Eddy says.
Then they started playing and recording live – not using the modern studio gimmicks – and Eddy is ecstatic about the results.
“It got me right back to 1959 when I was sitting in Phoenix. We’d sit there with the guys and come up with an idea” and then just play. “That’s how I wrote Rebel Rouser. It was done live.”
Of course Eddy is hoping this album will receive popular acclaim and make money in the States. Regardless, of course, there’s always been England for this gentle soul, a true rock legend without the fancy excess trimmings and ego.
“I made a big impact there (in England) when in 1960 I did a tour with Bobby Darin and Clyde McPhatter. I recreated the sound (of the record) on stage.”
His no-gimmicks, live-in-studio recording style translated well live, while Darrin’s songs, like Splish Splash didn’t.
Eddy at first was worried by his seemingly quiet reception in his first British concerts.
“The first night Jim Horn (his sax and woodwind-playing pal) and I were standing up there, he eased over there about halfway into the show.”
The two were wondering why there was just a little “polite applause” after songs.
Then they realized: “They were waiting for the next song,” he says.
When the set was done, it was different. “They exploded, they stomped their feet. They said ‘We want more’ ‘We want Duane’.
“They kept that going through the first 10 minutes of Bobby’s act. It hurt his feelings.”
Still, the affable legend doesn’t agree that he’s necessarily better known in England.
“I have the same interest here. It’s just that it’s spread out over the whole country and our country is four times bigger than England, population wise.
“Geographically, England is so small. Here’s the deal: You do something in London and they hear about it in the whole country. Here you can do something in Nashville and you don’t hear about it in Smyrna.”
Regardless of the reception this album gets here in the states, the guitar man is philosophic: “I keep happy. If you get bitter or unhappy about the past things, it only hurts more. I don’t dwell on it.
“Just forward blunder.”