A decent, nostalgic Father’s Day gift, for your dad’s dad
Chris Roberts 2011
The first album in a quarter-century from guitar hero Duane Eddy, now in his mid-70s, is a labour of love for co-producer/co-writer Richard Hawley. The pair met at an awards ceremony and lifelong fan Hawley, not short on persuasive gift-of-the-gab, made his dreams happen. Recorded in 11 days in Sheffield, Road Trip sounds thoroughly Eddy yet also thoroughly Hawley: an indication of how far-reaching and durable the veteran’s influence is. It will also sound, to younger listeners, like a Hawley album with the vocals removed.
To older listeners the famous twang of Eddy’s style will be the key signifier. While it was the man himself who took to picking out melodies on his bass strings, it was Lee Hazelwood who, as his producer (before cracking it as a performer), alchemised the material, playing around with Eddy’s tapes, slowing them down, adding echo and space. Hawley, a lover of old-school rockabilly, doesn’t need to be reminded of that fact. He too creates cinematic, sparse, rumbling backdrops over which the twang can bounce. In the past Art of Noise, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison have attempted similar, perhaps getting too excitable and impatient. Hawley doesn’t try to teach an old dog new tricks: even Seasick Steve might deem this dated. Diehards may prefer to substitute "timeless" for "dated", while Hank Marvin will be wondering why being British makes you less cool than being American.
While much of this could, to be harsh, pass as muzak – not least the drippy Twango and the sleepy, countrified title-track – occasional bursts of energy crackle into atmospheric life and beg Tarantino to adopt them for his next movie. By far the best moment is Primeval, which leaves the calm conservatory to visit the garage, kicking up a storm of dust, sparks and gutsy blues, waling sax rasps and all. One longs for more of that: slowies like Kindness Ain’t Made of Sand and Rose of the Valley are pretty but also quite, well, dull. Again, they’d benefit from a Hawley vocal. A decent, nostalgic Father’s Day gift then, for your dad’s dad.