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Various Artists

Phantom Guitars

Twangin' Instrumentals from the UK 1961-1964

(Forced Exposure; US: 26 Feb 2008; UK: 18 Feb 2008)

In the vast pile of “unearthed” guitar instrumentals, do names really matter? Here we have 25 slices of twangy goodness from 25 largely unknowns, 19 of whose monikers begin with “The”: The Gimmicks, The Champions, The Falcons, The Vengers, The Gladiators… “The” list goes on. Phantom Guitars is an excellent survey of sounds that followed in, well, the shadow of The Shadows. Though at times it seems these songs could all have been recorded with the same tremolo-heavy guitar rig, each group manages to present their own thematic variation of the “same” sound. In under two minutes, The Nu-Notes’ “Fury” projects both a western soundscape and a car chase, while “The Traitors” by The Packabeats is slippery, elastic, and novel. Is that a flute in The Planets’ “Jungle Street”? Indeed it is, a fine foundation for guitar noir, as are the bongo and sax, which fuel “Mind Reader” by Johnny Howard Group. And, whoa, Rhet Stoller pulls in a string section to lift off the cinematic “Big City”. Grab your pomade, comb, and leather jacket—this is the good stuff.

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