Friday, November 30, 2018

Jerry Cole - Hot Rod Twangin' The 1960's Crown Recordings

Jerry Cole is an excellent guitarist. Just the list in the liner notes of several dozen stars on whose records he played -- including Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Phil Spector, Aretha Franklin, and Elvis Presley for starters -- is a testament to that. Being a good guitarist and making good records are different things, however. And while Cole did make a lot of records on which he was the featured artist, many of them were quite run-of-the-mill instrumentals. They form the main diet on this 24-track collection of sides he played on for budget LPs on the Crown label in 1960-1966 that were attributed to numerous different artists, including not just Jerry Cole, but also Jerry Kole, the Stingers, Billy Boyd, the Scramblers, the Hot Rodders, the Winners, and even the Blasters (no, not the Blasters with the Alvin brothers). While Cole's playing is accomplished and spirited, it hardly pierces the arrow of the heart in the fevered, imaginative way that axemen Link Wray and Lonnie Mack could on many of their instrumental discs from the same time. That's not to say that everything here is as instantly dispensable as those budget Crown LPs were no doubt thought of by the label itself. Cole sometimes manages a tough, burning bluesy tone, "The Green Monster" being an outstanding example, though that track (as well as some others) is kicked along by some gimmicky burning-rubber hot rod sound effects. And, as the title promises, there's twang aplenty, though a leaner, suaver, and bluesier sort than Duane Eddy's. He also gets into some relatively early fuzz workouts on numbers like the Stingers' "Mustang," which has something of a Davie Allan feel. You hunger, however, for a little more along the lines of the Bo Diddley-styled "Mojo," where it seems like he's stretching for something more adventurous, particularly when he dives into unexpectedly lowdown distorted fuzz. Much of the rest of this comp is coasting in the songwriting department (which was usually Cole's department), as formidable a testament as the disc is to his versatile skills.

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