Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
rob + = email

2018 January 08 • Monday

Somewhere not very long ago we picked up an old record by Tommy Garrett or, to be precise, The 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett.

We didn't know anything about it but it's the kind of record we buy. It was really great and had fantastic interpretations of three Ennio Morricone pieces, the main themes from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More.

It turns out that Garrett, who was a record producer nicknamed "Snuff", made a bunch of these "50 Guitars" records in the '60s and they were pretty popular.

There doesn't sound like anything near fifty guitars, but his concept was to get a bunch of great session guitarists—Barney Kessel, Tommy Tedesco, Laurindo Almeida et al.—playing together (similar to Hank Marvin's Guitar Syndicate, which would come along later).

And so the 499th Soundtrack of the Week is this compilation of Western Movie Themes and Songs by The 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett.

It kicks off with the aforementioned theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which should really grab you. The other two Morricone spaghetti western themes are on here also, and the version of the theme from A Fistful of Dollars is especially well done, and as much of a feature for the harp as it is for the guitar.

Of course Elmer Bernstein's The Magnificent Seven theme is on here, and it's energetic and has a rich, full sound.

Many of the other songs are staples as well: "South of the Border", "Mexicali Rose", "Green Leaves of Summer", "Yellow Rose of Texas", the theme from Giant etc.

What's perhaps most remarkable about these recordings is how good the guitar sounds, especially the nylon string guitar. It's exceptionally clear and bright, even when surrounded by all this percussion and strings and whatever else. Even when several guitars are playing in unison, there's a strong sense of clarity and depth.

I'm going to spend some time with a few of these "50 Guitars" albums and see what happens.