Gray Bartlett: The Sixties Collection (Frenzy/Ode)

 |   |  1 min read

Gray Barlett: Surf Rider
Gray Bartlett: The Sixties Collection (Frenzy/Ode)

Although Gray (Graeme) Bartlett is best known today by that lovely old catch-all word "entrepreneur" -- he promotes concerts, discovers talent, tours national and international acts etc -- he was and remains a very fine guitarist, which was how he got his start in "show business".

At the end of the Eighties I accompanied him and his small band on a brief tour into southern China where he played excellent concerts to appreciative audiences, gave guitar tips and tuition to enthusiastic young people and was like a one-man ambassador for this country and his six string.

In a recent conversation with Shadows' guitarist Hank Marvin he and I spoke about how popular instrumentals were in the early Sixties. Not just by the Shadows but by pianist Russ Conway, clarinettist Acker Bilk (Stranger of the Shore), bands like the Ventures, Tornados and others, guys like Duane Eddy, Dick Dale and Link Wray, Ray Conniff and Billy Butterfield, Herb Alpert and . . .  the list goes on. 

Surf music was big (Pipeline by the Chantays, Wipe-Out by the Surfaris) and in this country Peter Posa was a massive star, especially after his hit White Rabbit. And we cannot go by without mentioning Bil Sevesi.

Gray Bartlett rode that surf/instrumental wave too and behind high-profile Peter Posa he was touring frequently, knocking out singles and albums, and with the acoustic piece La Playa he was, as they say but in this case it's literally true, big in Japan.

It went almost to the top of their charts and he toured there, and recorded an album In Japan.

This thorough 25 track collection not only showcases his diversity -- surf, twanging country'n'western, spy-influenced pieces which were also popular at the time, themes songs like those from The Munsters, Thunderball and the Third Man -- but also how prolific a writer he was. Seven are either written or co-written by him, and they slip easily into the various idioms he explored.

Of course an album like this -- MOR and perhaps too locked in its period -- will be too conservative for most listeners, but it does allow for Bartlett's first career to be given its due.

And the interesting liner notes by archivist and Frenzy founder Grant Gillanders, plus period photos and newspaper clippings, remind you just what a star Gray Bartlett was . . . back when instrumental music got its fair share of airtime.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Zen Mantra: How Many Padmes Hum? (Muzai)

Zen Mantra: How Many Padmes Hum? (Muzai)

As so much New Zealand music -- especially what was once called "alternative" -- gets codified for radio play and aims for a middle ground, the Muzai label out of Auckland (with a slogan... > Read more

Dodson and Fogg: Follow The Path (wisdomtwins)

Dodson and Fogg: Follow The Path (wisdomtwins)

In which Elsewhere once again hopes to draw your attention to the very prolific Dodson and Fogg – aka Chris Wade – from Leeds (music, books, artwork, articles, film, see here!) whose... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

The Ornette Coleman Trio: At the Golden Circle, Stockholm. Vol 1 (1965)

The Ornette Coleman Trio: At the Golden Circle, Stockholm. Vol 1 (1965)

As far as I can see by looking back, Ornette Coleman is the first artist to have two entries at Essential Elsewhere, he has appeared previously with The Shape of Jazz to Come. Although, to be... > Read more

Copenhagen, Denmark: Beer, the breakfast of champions

Copenhagen, Denmark: Beer, the breakfast of champions

Here's what we know about a tour of a brewery, vineyard or distillery: The interesting bit — the only important bit, unless you are into fermentation or like digging your paws in hops... > Read more