Though barely known on the now-faltering shores of the breakaway Yank colonies, Hank Marvin (Brian Robson Rankin) was GIGANTIC in the UK, there as much the object of idolatry as Les Paul, Chet Atkins, and the Ventures here. Marvin's was the torch that lit the fire beneath a thousand rock and roll barquentimes, influencing Jeff Beck, Peter Green, Ritchie Blackmore, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Brian May, and most likely half the entire population of axewielders in England, not to mention quite a few of the savvier players in America. You couldn't escape the gent's fretwork legerdemain if you had ears. He and his group, The Shadows, were pretty much the alpha and omega across the ocean, THE instrumental rock combo of the 60s.
Well, at 73, he's still untouchable in the clear, clean, note for note style that knocked so many formative six-string gods on their ears. Acknowledged as one of the globe's great musicians, Marvin's formed a trio for Django's Castle, tributizing another of the planet's immortals, Django Reinhardt, and, as would be expected, Gary Taylor (rhythm guitar) and Nunzio Mondias (accordion) are straight on the money. Taylor is himself in the stratum of legend, having co-founded The Herd with Peter Frampton in the 60s before moving on to play for a wide swath of musicians: Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Stealers Wheel, Demis Roussos, and etc. Mondias is likewise a sideman-of-choice and one of those unreal-good accordion players who damn near steals the show whenever he shows up for duty.
However, you can't top the untoppable, and so Marvin stands well out on every cut, Taylor the true swingin' rhythm section with three different rotating contrabass players, Mondia sandwiched in between but a guy who comes out with killer solos as well, complementing Marvin or carrying on the melodics—in essence, playing Grappelli to Marvin's Django. Don't think that Marv's a layback all the time, though, as he's capable of speed when called for. What's really choice, though, are his touch and tonal purity. One clearly hears how Knopfler developed his famed ultra-clean style when listening to Hank, and, if attention is heavily devoted, even Clapton's acoustic work can easily be assessed for Marvinalia amid all Eric's blues riffs.
And forget about me choosing a favorite track, as every single cut is dauntingly gemlike. When I heard the first, I said "Oh man, that's IT!"…until the second came around, and I went "Hmmm, I may have jumped the gun here just a mite". Noto Swing popped up, and I then understood this CD was a 100%-er; not a bar goes by but that you're entranced.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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