Hank Marvin

Without A Word

(Demon Music Group)

The master of the twanging electric guitar returns. We were all set to meet the man and talk guitars, this record and everything else, but his trip over from Australia for promo was cancelled, as we understand it for family reasons. No matter, we can bide our time for a meet and in the meantime listen to this fresh album, produced by Hank and with some input from his son Ben. Recording was undertaken at Nivram Studios in Perth.

The titles confirm no real theme or overall mood to the record as they are frankly and almost bizarrely all over the place – hence it is best to assume that this is a collection of numbers that Hank felt like recording. After all and all this time Marvin has nothing to prove. His fans will always be eager to hear his skills put yet again to good use. We know of his penchant for gypsy jazz but on this current set it’s exploring the melodies that seems to prevail….

Don’t Get Around Much Any More is of course the Ellington standard, a tune favoured by many including Paul McCartney. Cool piano and brush drumming staggers start the tune and that liquid single-note guitar starts to chime, the tiniest hint of delay. Makes me think for some reason of Sunday lunchtimes and Two-Way Family Favourites on the radio. A very slight fuzztone can be heard. The piano solo has a George Shearing shine to it, unhurried. Beautiful stuff…

A corny accordion brings in Michelle, a straightforward reading of the Lennon & McCartney standard from Rubber Soul. The guitar tone is vintage Shadows to these ears. The delicacy of the melody is kept intact and a cute acoustic interlude works well. The Bacharach composition Alfie was brilliantly sung by the late Cilla Black of course and it is hard to hear the tune without thinking of the great Michael Caine deadpanning his way through the original film. The strings here are very close to the original Abbey Road arrangement. A genius composer whose intriguing chordal runs stay fresh and touching.

Theme From Poirot benefits from a guitar treatment, it’s lot less Charlie Chaplin and this fairly lively approach gets the composition moving along with deft fingerwork and excellent drumming Ben Vanderval. Plus ominous but uncluttered descending bass runs by Roy Martinez. Things get jazzy @ 2:13 as Hank goes into blues mode, vamping Hammond et al. A winner, this one and fades away too early for me! Are You Lonesome Tonight has rolling acoustic guitar and Marvin twanging softy away on the Elvis favourite. Shame he didn’t do Let’s Play House.

Russian Doll is a father & son original taken at a brisk pace and somehow evoking Donovan in its changes. Would make a good film theme, opening credits for a thriller maybe. A nod to Henry Mancini now and the spiky Peter Gunn/Baby Elephant Walk, rocking away quite rhythmically, the electric guitar taking the sleazy lead lines and handling the stops with a funk swagger but suddenly we are into a legato guitar take on Baby, stepping back to Peter Gunn. It’s clever, but I would never have paired these two tunes. BTW do check out Gary Hoey’s version of Peter Gunn! Moon River is also Mancini but plus Johnny Mercer and here Marvin uses his lagoonside crooning style over gentle acoustic guitar backing. I had to play this once at a wedding and used a Schaller volume pedal and a slide…

The Doctor Who Theme cruises in on oscillating synths before the drums punch the backbone in and the guitar wobbles on its way. To be honest it sounds a bit odd and a wilder approach would have added a lot. This was once a spooky and exciting tv series and not the overcomplicated pc garbage successive naff producers have dragged it to. What A Wonderful World along with We Have All The Time In The World have truly timeless melodies and would have made a fine medley. Here Marvin takes the former for a walk with some subtle vibrato bar work here and there. The backing is almost reggae.  Cry Me A River is the song you associate with Julie London as opposed to Mr Timberlake. As a composition it aches with menace and the electric piano is terrific. The tune sounds surprising on guitar, a wah pedal would have made it even better. The lighter bridge is well played then returns to the darker mood. Definitely my choice of number on this set. It’s close to Larry Carlton after a couple of minutes.

The Fool On The Hill is another haunting song. The tempo is quite jaunty, here. Resulting in a pretty and uplifting take on the number which is a highlight on this album, for sure. If only he would try my favourite Beatles composition, Rai ! America is the Bernstein torcher, sounding mellow at the start of this effort. Then things get much better and that early Shadows touch jumps out at you. Will You Love Me Tomorrow is a song I had to work out not long ago to back a female vocalist. The chords are lovely and the cadence quite warming. Goffin and King wrote few clinkers. This version has a brisk backing letting the single-note melody float along.

The instruments used by Marvin on these cuts include Hank’s Signature Fender Stratocaster, a Dan Electro Baritone and a Hahl Gypsy acoustic six-string. Hank can make them all talk..and they do. Take My Word.

Pete Sargeant

(Thanks Lisa, Mike)


Hank Marvin’s new studio album ‘Without A Word’ is out now on Demon Music Group. 

For more information visit his official Facebook page here: http://bit.ly/2rWPWNS

Hank Marvin