Friday, September 18, 2009

“Retrophonic, Reviewed”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Normally, when a new release appears by iconic California guitarist Davie Allan, I immediately jot down notes as part of a ‘first impressions’ review.

But in August, I received a copy of his ‘Retrophonic’ disc while on my way out of town to help with family needs.

My first taste of the recording came while traveling south, on Interstate 79. As I’d expected, it was a superlative effort brimming with creativity. Also, it provided a history lesson of sorts because Davie had chosen to include older tracks recorded with the late Wayne Allwine. Yet weeks passed before I was able to find a moment for quiet reflection on his work.

When an opportunity for re-listening arrived a last, I felt exuberant. With pen in hand, I began to hear, and write as the stream-of-consciousness journey got underway:


1. Devil Dust – A promenade across the desert. The outlaw rider has returned! Kicking up ground level, psychic contrails of yesteryear. Leaving new echoes in his wake. A tonecaster with his Jazzmaster, wandering and free. An unbridled soul on the move - make no mistake.

2. Uprising – Trite man, beware! The High Chieftain from a thousand sessions ago has risen. His children sing a hymn of yonder days. The white buffalo snorts powerfully through a single-coil pickup first designed by Leo the hero. Woe to them who tread recklessly in the hoofprints of this holy bison. Let it be known! The last stand is at hand. This beast rules the holy land.

3. Heavenly Blues – Making love on a black Panhead chopper. Spoked wheels shooting sunfire with each rotation. A visual cue to the fuzz-fire, streaking through the firmament like a flaming arrow. Gonna ride our guitars without being hassled by the man. A thunderbird in flight. Yes I am.

4. Buzz Saw Effect – The rebel tonesmith summons Mike Hammer from his grave. Shadows reign, as the rising specter begins to dance. A growling, gnawing pirouette on wingtip shoes. Black and white whipped with rhythmic might. Dive on the whammy bar! A new king rules the night.

5. The Glory Stompers – Celluloid stamped with the sweat of a troubadour in motion. Brothers, there is no other. Motorcycle grease and a chick called ‘Mother.’ The head stomper wields his six-string shooter like a magic talisman. And I want to hear him play, again and again. Hey now, won’t you be my friend?

6. Straight Shooter – A carpet ride on the electric tide. Twangin’ and bangin’ down the stairwell once rented by Link Wray. He was born to play, this shooter can sway. He’ll keep pluckin’ till the break of day. You know what I say!

7. The Lone Arranger – A hero rides free. Evil holds the moment, but then justice has its way. Fuzz licks split the fretboard. Twanging notes ring out to the weary. They cling to vinyl grooves cut with steel hooves. A pale rider saves the day!

8. You Really Got A Hold On Me – A clue, parting mystery from mystique. Remember when we laughed like this? Those days were precious and sweet.

9. Rebel Rouser – Song of the South, not in Dixie, but the lower third of California. Squawkin’ and talkin’ with Duane Eddy while sipping bourbon over ice. Juiced and on the loose. Ain’t that nice! Jamming on a riff first heard as the rebel began to rise. He’s here with us now. Just open your eyes.

10. Will You Love Me Tomorrow – A song from beyond the rim of eternity. A joyous, loving chorus carried on the wind. Old friend, your voice still causes me to chill with love. You may have gone above, but you will never go away.

11. Recycled – Wick up the throttle. My little piece of Milwaukee is stoked up, wound up, and ready to ride. Got a tank of go-juice and a need to play the blues. I’ll ride all night, straight into the sunrise. The lonesome highway comes alive!

12. Building Blocks And Lollipops – I had too much to dream last night. Danced on a keyboard walkway – what a fright! Took a field trip to ‘Top of the Pops’ and the house band played hits by The Shadows of Knight. But don’t worry, ma, it’ll be all right.

13. Extrasensory Deception – Jamming gears up the PCH after dark. Dragging the footpegs just to watch the steel spark. Somebody needs to worry here, but it ain’t me. Stuffing the fuzzbox with hot rocks is what I do. The power chord is my creed.

14. Honky Tonk Jezebel – An Arrow Escape through the magical power of a musical change-up. Fuzz tricks traded for a whisper of steel guitar licks. Cowboy desperado singin’ solo. A melody so sweet, written for a lady of the street. Jezzie jams her heartbreaking smile in between the riffs of an outlaw, throwing heat. But the hurtin’ is good. She makes my night complete.

15. Night Crawler – So late, and still on the road. The outlaw yearns for sight of his home. But there is no shelter. No place for his bed. Grown on electric gunfire and steel wires. The world is in his head. Saddle tramp, born to wander. By name, he’s a drifter. Look hard into the nightfall. You'll see him pass over.

16. Los Cabos – Ain’t been to Kokomo. Ain’t been to Orleans. But I’m smokin’ my way around the sun in a dream. Got to ride, got to run. Steel strings and a six-gun. There’s a prophet on the mountaintop. And another by the sea. Before this lifetime is over, I’ll hear the wise men speak.

17. Evil Did Too – Ghost rider, just before the dawn. What is this place? I must be travelin’ on. I am here in body, but do not belong. The old house holds its secrets, told only in song.

This beat-poetry review concluded as my out-of-state family adventure was drawing to a close. With the Arrow-Dynamic sound still reverberating, I began to make preparations for a return to Cleveland.

It had been a long journey, spiritually and musically. I felt inspired by a sense of rekindled familial love.

But also, by fresh sounds from the one called ‘King of the Fuzz!’

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