Arriving just after instrumental surf music was dealt a knockout punch by the British Invasion, Davie Allan survived against all odds, providing numerous soundtracks to biker and teen exploitation movies and hitting the charts with a remake of the Shadows’ “Apache” and his fuzzfest “Blues Theme.”
Allan has remained active throughout the decades, but has seen a renewed visibility in recent years, with Sundazed issuing a two-CD retrospective and a new collection, Restless In L.A., and Miami Steve Van Zandt signing him to his label (a Christmas collection is expected this year).
Sundazed has just released three of his Mike Curb-produced albums on CD, each with two or three unreleased bonus tracks. Apache ’65, from 1965, is the most traditional, with blistering originals like Curb’s “Tee Pee” juxtaposed against easy-listening fare like a tremoloed take on “Red Roses For A Blue Lady.” Ex-Belair Paul Johnson’s distinctive rhythm playing can be heard on “Commanche,” Allan breaks out the fuzz only once – on Travis Wammack’s “Scratchy.”
By the time of 1967’s Blues Theme, the King Of Fuzz had arrived – on the blistering title cut, from the B-movie Wild Angels, as well as “Fuzz Theme,” “King Fuzz,” and the wild, whammied “Action On The Street.” Also included are a clever take on the William Tell Overture, an electric 12-string version of “Ghost Riders In The Sky,” and a previously unreleased (and possibly the goofiest) version of “Theme From A Summer Place.”
But 1968 saw Allan’s most ambitious work. As its title implies, Cycle-Delic Sounds merged the Arrows’ biker fuzz with psychedelic, with the six-and-a-half-minute title freakout kicking things off. Wah-wah was added to the arsenal, and Davey explored more dissonant territory and more advanced sound effects and production techniques.
Sure, some of this sounds a bit dated, but hey, so does, “My yellow in this case is not so mellow.” Because it’s all instrumental, Allan’s workouts actually stand the test of time better than many of his vocal contemporaries of the period.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’05 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.