Davie Allan came along when, by all rights, instrumental rock should have been long past rigor mortis and decomposing, after the British Invasion nailed instro surf’s coffin shut. But, against all odds, as garage rock was becoming psychedelic, Allan carved out a niche, stuck to it, and is still making great records today.
Part of his success is that the self-proclaimed King Of Fuzz’s sound wasn’t dated; plus, it fit perfectly into the bikers-and-drugs exploitation B-movies for which he provided soundtracks. The other component, though, was his ability to come up with simple but catchy and memorable ditties and reinvent well-known songs to conform to his style. And the sheer power of his playing bordered on punk before there was punk, and can still make most blue-mohawked groups sound about as dangerous as the Jonas Brothers.
After kicking off with the pummeling Heartbreakers-ish riff of “Slip-Stream,” Allan takes Max Frost & The Trooper’s ’60s psych nugget “Shape Of Things To Come” for a ride, his Jazzmaster’s whammy bar leading the way.
Next up, “Frustration” features fleet-fingered picking, sustain, and harmonized lines over a beat that’s somewhere between a pow-wow (Native American themes have always been an Arrows component) and Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits.”
The fact that Allan displays impressive singing on the lush “Heartache” (an Everlys/Holly-esque original) shows that instrumental rock is an artistic choice, not some cage. Hopefully, Allan will explore this side more in the future – but it sure feels good when he charges into the next track, “Vanishing Breed,” an instro flurry tribute to Dick Dale. Then “Listen To The Guitar Man,” featuring Lisa Mychols’ lead vocal, in the mode of Al Casey’s “Surfin’ Hootenanny,” quotes Dale, Duane Eddy, Link Wray, and the Ventures.
When so-called rock historians draw up “best of” lists of of true rock guitar stylists, Davie Allan’s name should never be left off.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.