Fender: The Golden Age 1950-1970 (Ace)

You don’t need to be a musician to appreciate this 28 track compilation showing off the Fender guitar in its best light. You don’t even need to be a fan of one particular genre of music as, it seems, the Fender was an integral part to the creation of some of the best country, blues, surf, garage, soul and psychedelia ever to come rumbling out of the recording studio.

The folks at Ace have put together a package that features a rather extensive history of the Fender guitar reaching back to the 1940s when Leo Fender began tinkering away in the back of his radio shop in Fullerton, California. The result was a line of guitars and amps that help change the face of 20th Century music thanks to guitars like the Telecaster, the Stratocaster and the Precision Bass.

The tracks are arranged in chronological order beginning with Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys’ Boot Heel Drag from 1950. This one shows off steel guitar player Herb Remington’s talents. Remington (born in 1926) is still around and was interviewed for the liner notes to this album.

Up next is Catfish Boogie by that ol’ pea-picker Tennessee Ernie Ford. The country artist is best known for his hit, Sixteen Tons, but this 1953 track sounds like Ernie had spent some quality time with blues shouter Big Joe Turner. It’s a great track, with a fine solo from Jimmy Bryant playing the Fender Broadcaster.

The selections range from the well-known (Beach Boys’ Fun, Fun, Fun) to the obscure (Otis Redding’s Rock Me Baby). The hits include Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues, The Bobby Fuller Four’s I Fought The Law and The Ventures’ Walk-Don’t Run.

As expected, instrumentals make up a healthy portion of the playlist with tracks from The Shadows, Booker T & The MGs and Jack Nitzsche.

The guitarist is listed on each song along with the model of Fender guitar he is playing. Some of the 1960’[s biggest names are represented here including Robbie Robertson (Ronnie Hawkins’ Who Do You Love?), Eric Clapton (The Yardbirds’ I Ain’t Got You) and Jeff Beck (Donovan’s Barabajagal).

Scattered throughout the programme are radio ads sung by country artists such as Faron Young and Barbara Mandrell extolling the virtues of the Fender guitar.

It’s another fine reissue from a label that can seem to do no wrong these days.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to Catfish Boogie by Tennessee Ernie Ford: