Monday, May 29, 2006
Arch Hall, Jr.: "Wild Guitar"/"Yes I Will" (Fairway International)
Now, this is a fairly easy one to review. Well, it's fairly easy to write about anyway. If you're a fan of cheesy, sleazy B-movies, then you ought to know who Arch Hall, Jr. is, but you're probably not familiar with such "classics" as "Eegah!," "The Nasty Rabbit" and "The Choppers," so I'll try to explain. Arch Hall, Jr. is the star of these and other B-movie epics that have graced volumes of worst movie books over the years. He got to star in them because his dad, Arch Hall, Sr., was producer/director and owned the production company that made the films, Fairway International.
These two cuts come from Hall, Jr.'s 1962 starring vehicle "Wild Guitar" (which also happens to be the directorial debut of one of moviedom's most psychotronic directors Ray Dennis Steckler). This 45 is also interesting for the participation of one Alan O'Day. O'Day became a well-known songwriter, penning tunes for Helen Reddy, The Righteous Brothers, Three Dog Night, The Fifth Dimension and scores of others, before scoring a monster hit of his own, "Undercover Angel" (#1 in Billboard in the spring-summer of 1977). Back before all this, O'Day was one of The Archers, Arch Jr.'s back-up band. O'Day wrote "Yes I Will" and is credited as co-writer on "Wild Guitar," the obvious title song. He also plays the electric piano on both cuts.
It's easy to dismiss "Yes I Will" as a stinker. In fact, it has appeared on a long-out-of-print Rhino LP, "The Golden Turkey Album." And I'll be the first to admit that Arch Jr. was not a great vocalist. (His vocalizing on "Valeri" (in "Eegah!") and "Vicki (in both "Eegah! and "WIld Guitar") is enough to make your ears curl). Here, though, his vocals are pleasant and smooth and the song is a decent enough pop ditty that you could picture someone like Herman's Hermits having a hit with it.
"Wild Guitar" is a different matter. An instrumental that may not strike you as wild as its title suggests, but Arch Jr. does indeed lay down some tasty guitar soloing. If the Archers rocked a little harder and if they got rid of those female singers in the background, this could have been something special. But it's still worth an earful for Hall Jr's guitar work. It really isn't bad, folks.
If you should ever see one of Arch Jr.'s movies, make it "The Sadist," an effective B-movie chiller from 1963 in which Arch Jr. turns in his very best performance playing a convincing, sadistic, slobbering psycho creep. And those tastemakers at Norton Records (www.nortonrecords.com) have recently issued a compilation CD of all of Arch Hall, Jr.'s musical madness. The original singles themselves are tough to get.