A punk kid from Van Nuys, Davie Allan contributed mightily to the development of modern electric guitar, and through his work on exploitation king Roger Cormans films profoundly impacted American ears in the 60s. (He scored nearly 20 American International Pictures films some of the gaudiest-ever exercises of pop-culture misuse.) Although long prized by a small fuzz-obsessed sect, recently Allan has suffered the scorn of hyperhip garage-revivalists, while simply being forgotten by the countless trash-loving viewers he once electrified with his work on such classics as Riot on the Sunset Strip, Wild in the Streets and Hellcats.The long-overdue reissue of three of Allans prime mid-60s albums debut long-player Apache 65; the classic Blues Theme; and his revenge on the Summer of Love, the masterful Cycle-Delic Sounds goes a fair piece to rectifying the situation. It also demonstrates that the six-string prodigy he was 20 when Apache 65 was released was a groundbreaking stylist whose reliance on fuzz and distortion never got in the way of his own extraordinary vision. Allan was a pure musician, working constantly and with little interest in antiestablishment posturing, wild image mongering or pumping up the hip quotient. Allans rich sense of melody and atmosphere drew much from soundtrack kingpins Henry Mancini and John Barry, but with warped fuzz-OD whammy-bar shimmy-shake proclivities, Allan also advanced the electric guitar at a frightening pace. Pre-Hendrix-Page rock guitar was a largely self-occluded, hit-and-run affair, and few players had the acuity and drive to really take guitar further than the masters Link Wray, Duane Eddy, Dick Dale already had. Rock guitar was yearning for a definitive hand, and Allan supplied just that, leaping from the Ventures-esque razzle-dazzle of Apache 65 to pummeling fuzz overload of Blues Theme in less than two years. In the process he became the juvenile Burt Bacharach of Hollywood acid-biker rock which wasnt a particularly comfortable position in the regimented hothouse of the Strip circa 66, where anything unexpected could brand you a square. (At a two-night stand at the Aquarius theater that year, the flower children booed Allan and the Arrows; the next night they returned fire, each armed with a kiddies bow and rubber-tipped arrows.)The range of his choice of material on these discs, from the celebratory laser-beam slice of his biggest seller, Blues Theme, to unadulterated pop (Red Roses For a Blue Lady, Theme from a Summer Place), is illustrative of Allans versatility. Action on the Street has both sunny melodic ebullience and gutter-level grit, while Theme from the Unknown oozes shadowy menace. And dig the mind-shattering wah-wah raunch of Cycle-Delic, withering in its intensity, with banshee skirls from a sax mouthpiece, dying-mule-bray harmonica and a smoggy layer of distorted dissonance thats pure audacity. The progression steadily mounts until his fuzz is torqued so high it becomes sci-fi (13th Harley).Allans overall style, in fact, is a breathtakingly curated aural assault, one whose notes-per-solo quotient is practically stoic in comparison to so many of his noodling contemporaries. And unlike traditional Hollywood studio orchestras, Allan could meld sweet and sour into a convincing presentation, and deliver it with such just-for-the-hell-of-it disregard that, until the Cramps Poison Ivy and Bryan Gregory rearticulated the supremacy of fuzz almost a decade later, one never heard anything like this anywhere else.Now, nearly four decades on, the breadth and ambition with which Allan wielded his ax is still stunning.DAVIE ALLAN & THE ARROWS | Apache 65, Blues Theme, Cycle-Delic Sounds | (Sundazed)
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.