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  • Liner Note Authors: Martin Kelly; Tony Bacon.
  • Photographer: Paul Kelly .
  • In the first 20 years or so that Fender electric guitars were available, they helped revolutionize the sound of popular music. This unusual, imaginative compilation illustrates just how it did so through a couple of dozen or so well-chosen examples of how Fenders made their imprint on rock, blues, country, and soul music. The Fender's identification with certain guitarists made it predictable that there would be selections by, for example, surf legend Dick Dale ("Miserlou") and Eric Clapton (heard here on the Yardbirds' "I Ain't Got You"). But the remarkably eclectic song selection also features classics by Johnny Cash ("Folsom Prison Blues"), Dale Hawkins ("Susie-Q"), Booker T. & the MG's ("Green Onions"), the Ventures ("Walk, Don't Run") the Beach Boys ("Fun, Fun, Fun"), and all the way into the late '60s with the Velvet Underground's "Beginning to See the Light" and Donovan's "Barabajagal (Love Is Hot") -- two artists of the kind not usually featured on Ace anthologies. There are also songs that aren't such big hits but are worth hearing, like Otis Rush's "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)," the Shadows' "Wonderful Land" (a number one U.K. hit in 1962 unknown in the U.S.), and Jack Nitzsche's "The Lonely Surfer." The sound of the Fender bass isn't neglected either, with Jet Harris' "Besame Mucho" acting as a showcase for the instrument, although the onetime Shadow's 1962 version won't be familiar to many Americans. Amply illustrated liner notes fill in the background on how Leo Fender developed his guitars and how they were used. There are even a few brief Fender radio ads by country stars Hank Snow, Faron Young, Barbara Mandrell, and Jan Howard. But whether or not you're a guitar player or Fender follower, it's a good compilation of guitar-grounded music by any standard, though one obvious guitar hero (Jimi Hendrix) is not represented due to licensing hurdles. ~ Richie Unterberger
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