Robert Silverstein Reviews


Back in the ‘60s, instrumental guitar aficionados were in paradise. England had The Shadows and America had The Ventures. More than four decades later, few American guitarists are capable of combining the spirit of the classic West Coast surf-rock sound of The Ventures and the Euro-tinged guitar instrumental sound of Hank Marvin & The Shadows better than Colorado-based guitar ace Les Fradkin. Forty plus years after the Ventures and Shadows early ‘60s breakthroughs, Les Fradkin and his band, Get Wet, are in the midst of reviving the time-honored surf-rock instro sound and a whole lot more. Just in time for Summer 2004, Fradkin has re-launched the first two Get Wet albums—Splash! (from 1999) and A Day At The Beach (2001)—on his own RRO Records. Huge hits on when released on CDR a few years back, Fradkin has shored them both up as definitive CD releases complete with 24-bit remastering, eye-catching new artwork and liner notes. Bonus tracks of Les Fradkin & Get Wet performing live in California and Colorado alongside a number of top players are featured on each—with the Splash! reissue spotlighting Les riffing out alongside legendary Eddie & The Showmen guitarist Eddie Bertrand. Colorful new artwork and top remastering makes these classic albums look and sound even better. The big, rocking guitar beat of Les Fradkin & Get Wet is essential listening for fans of surf-rock and symphonic rock instrumental sounds.

LES FRADKIN: "WHILE MY GUITAR ONLY PLAYS" (RRO-1005) There is perhaps no better or more qualified guitarist around today to serve up a CDs worth of rock Beatles instrumentals than Colorado-based guitar maven Les Fradkin. After all it was Fradkin who was chosen, back in 1976 out of a pack of 2000 guitarists, to play the George Harrison lead guitarist part in the original Broadway production of Beatlemania. And with good reason. On his 2005 Beatles tribute CD—entitled While My Guitar Only Plays—Les and his band (including Joe Rotondo on drums and Dave Stalheim on bass) offer up fourteen of the best rock instrumental versions of Beatles classics ever recorded. And that’s saying something, because over the years there’s been hundreds of artists—from The Hollyridge Strings to Chet Atkins—who’ve paid instro honors to the greatest Fab Four music of the ‘60s. Fradkin puts all the arrangements and guitar parts in the right place and he’s chosen a collection of songs earlier overlooked as possible guitar covers in the past, achieving a fine detail of inlocking melodies with guitar voicings depicting the vocal harmonies and arrangements. Among the highlights on While My Guitar Gently Plays include Fradkin-ized covers of “Here Comes The Sun”—including a guest appearance by Ventures guitarist Nokie Edwards—instro covers of “And Your Bird Can Sing”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, a sentimental, mellotron hued “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and a blistering instro rave-up of “I Saw Her Standing There”. Beatles fans who still relish the spirit in which these greatest ‘60s pop classics were first made, owe it to themselves to check out Les Fradkin’s While My Guitar Only Plays.