The Sixties Collection
Frenzy Music/Ode Records
Long before Gray Bartlett was promoting gigs and advertising himself as some sort of talent-spotter/entrepreneur, charging exorbitant fees and promising to make anyone the next Hayley Westenra he was a guitar player. Sometimes he still is. And though he all too quickly turned into the Kiwi version of some Nashville-meets-Vegas shiny shoe-wearing smiley guy he had some chops. Okay, so there was Peter Posa first and foremost but the young Graeme Bartlett – then to become Gray – had decent skills. And was able to work across country and rock’n’roll, easily interpolating the surf music craze to his mix of rockabilly licks.
So here, now we have all his singles from the music career that started back in 1959 when he was lead guitarist for The Stereotones. From there Bartlett toured with big name players like Bobby Vee and The Ventures, Johnny Burnette and Connie Francis and in 1963 he was signed up to toss out instrumental ditties to meet the surf-music craze and beginning of the beat-combo era.
These tunes – 25 of them here, a mix of covers and originals – are good. They stand up. Sure, some of it might seem a bit naff but there’s a lot of cool stuff here and the guitar playing is as good as those sessions Ritchie Blackmore was doing at the same time over in the UK.
Lots of fun stuff here, lots of strange but brilliant covers – the Munsters theme, James Bond’s Thunderball. And it’s all impeccably played. A bit of history then. I’m sure you’re all too cool for it. I know I’m not. I’m pleased about that.