Brian Whelan and Primal Twang


L.A. based singer/songwriter/ producer.. Brian Whelan  sends spiritual consolation  through his music. His dossier includes playing with the likes of Chuck Berry and Dwight Yoakam. Whelan learned to play guitar before he could walk! The album “Decider” is a few years old but it continues to teethe a lot  of wallop. He’s now completing his new album which is set for  release in the first quarter of 2016 and those who have heard it are ecstatic.In addition, he has been working on the finishing production touches on fellow L.A. balladeer, Rod Melancon. Without remorse, I’d have to say that there’s a compulsory  factor that makes Whelan so worthy of praise. But this is only escalated by his astonishing body of work. His boy looks makes him more apt to be a British pop star from Manchester back in the 90’s than a purveyor of Twang…Yes, Twang is the truest sound of American rock and roll. Describing his music merely as Americana is a major injustice. Its like leaving money at the table in Las Vegas while on a winning streak. In a previous interview I wanted to quote what Whelan said, ”Its sad, but that whole Americana thing so full of people who spend more time on their outfits and their beards and their P.R. and their networking that they do on their on their music. It’s just a comment on mediocrity.I get to see a whole lost of that sort of thing in L.A.,where image is 99% of a lot of stuff. And you go tell someone you look great but you sound like shit”!

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Brian Whelan in Tupelo at Elvis’ Birthplace

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Whelan Playing With Chuck Berry…. Elvis & Scotty Moore Getting It On

Primal Twang was manifested circa the mid 50’s between Chuck Berry and Scotty Moore. Moore was Elvis Presley’s earliest guitar player.He played with “The King” until Presley was drafted into the army. He also acted as Elvis’ manager before Col. Tom Parker. He was the architect  for sounds that were  iconic let alone  being considered precedent setting. Presley rarely played his own lead while performing; instead providing rhythm guitar and leaving the lead duties to Moore. As a guitarist, Moore was a noticeable presence in Presley’s performances, despite his introverted demeanor. He became an inspiration to many subsequent popular guitarists. Keith Richards said many times in interviews that he never wanted to be Elvis… He wanted to  be Scotty Moore!

“Blue Suede Shoes”.. The “King”Backed By Scotty Moore

Singers learned from Elvis but it was Scotty that was creating licks that other guitarist were stymied by. It was the guitar sound that changed the world. The history of “Twang” involves everything from Gretsch and Fender Guitars to amps to guitar pics.  You can’t “Twang” unless you have a firm thumb pic! After Moore “Twangin” became hugely popular in America. Stars like Eddie Cochran, Duane Eddy and Carl Perkins were having huge hit records.

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L.A.’s Fave Son, Eddie Cochran.. Duane Eddie.. Carl Perkins…

Guitarist, Link Wray had been the first to merge Twang and Distortion. Punk, metal, grunge, garage, modern rock guitar.. it all started here!Wray was the first to use intentional distortion in a rock and roll recording. Wray, through some  “bio- cellular helix manipulation” was credited in using power chords; the “modus operandi” in  rock music. His band, Link Wray and the Ray Men’s groundbreaking song “Rumble” was banned from radio airplay for fear it would incite teenage gang violence. A remarkable feat for a song with no words! You can’t get more rock and roll that that!!!  Link Wray was the first Native American rock star..  selling over 1 million copies in 1958 for the song “Rumble”. In addition, he wrote songs after famous Indian tribes..” Apache”, “Shawnee” and “Camanche”. Rolling Stone Magazine rated Wray in the top 50 of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

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Link was a self proclaimed “bad-ass motherfucker”..and when he met other guitarist he intentionally not share his riffs. Link Wray died in Copenhagen in 2005 of heart failure.  Jimmy Page  talks about his devotion to Link Wray,..”America’s greatest precursor  to the British Invasion”

Wedged between the primal heavy metal thunder of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Iron Butterfly and the introspective Laurel Canyon singer/songwriter fare ala Carole King, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell was Welsh guitarist, Dave Edmunds’ 1970 solo smash single, I Hear You Knocking, a cover of Smiley Lewis chestnut. It sounded like a lost musical missive plucked from the Eisenhower generation. Edmunds uses fills and a solo played on slide guitar.  During the instrumental break, he shouts out the names of several 1950s recording artists; including “Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, Chuck Berry, Huey Smith and the Clowns!”. The record as out of place as it twas’ it soared to the Top 10 across the world. It was “anchored” in Great Britain for 8 weeks! It was a single championed at the time by none other than John Lennon as a favorite who undoubtedly connected with how the track mainlined the earthy atmosphere and grit and grime (dig that echo!) of the classic Sun Records recordings emanating out of Memphis in the mid to late ‘50s.

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Dave Edmunds

In many ways, Dave Edmunds has been a musician out of time; it’s almost as if God played the ultimate cosmic joke and stuck him in the wrong decade. Yet over the course of a five decade career, he’s stayed true to his ideals, upholding the sound, spirit and tradition of classic ‘50s rock and roll birthed by the likes of Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry,Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Fats Domino, and the Everly Brothers. His musical acumen  as a solo artist and member of Rockpile, in-demand guitarist (he’s played with ¾ of the BeatlesPaul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr–and Robert Plant among countless others) and consummate producer (The Everly Brothers, The Stray Cats,Jeff Beck The Flamin’ Groovies and Foghat) is impressive and resonates with the studied authenticity of a musical auteur.

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Brian Whelan… “Twang” Fans in Japan

Rock and Roll will never die! There will always be some arrogant little brat who wants to make a statement with a guitar and produce music that  seamlessly goes backwards in order to go forward.So as long as there’s a Brian Whelan around “Twang” will remain primal. We are so fortunate to have someone so gifted..