“Ride of the Ruthless”: Guitar Army from Texas

Big Guitars from Texas is/was an Austin supergroup that features Frankie Camaro (Dino Lee, Dragstrip, Moto-X), Don Leady (Leroi Brothers, Tailgators), Evan Johns (H-Bombs), Denny Freeman, Mike Buck (Fabulous Thunderbirds, Leroi Brothers) and Keith Ferguson (Fabulous Thunderbirds, Tailgators).  “Guitar Army” – from their 1985 album, Trash, Twang & Thunder – garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.Big Guitars from TX

Ride of the Ruthless” is another great track from this album:

“Ride of the Ruthless”     Big Guitars From Texas     1985

All of the band members (except for departed bassist, Keith Ferguson) reunited Valentine’s Day 2013 for a benefit to help bandmate, Evan Johns

Big Guitars from TX benefit

“Supersonics in Flight”: Billy Mure’s Jet-Age Guitar Army

Before The Barclay Stars and their lone 1966 breakthrough album, Billy Mure was the first and last name in military guitar ensembles.  The title track from Billy’s 1959 RCA album, Supersonics in Flight, demonstrates the glorious sound of multiple guitars playing stereophonically in tandem.

Supersonics in Flight – Billy Mure

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Supersonics in Flight” by Billy Mure.]

Billy Mure LP

Billboard‘s review from their April 13, 1952 edition:

This album is inspired by the Navy jet fighter F-11F1, the Tiger. Mure and his guitar ensemble with their rapid-fire fingering, are supposedly capturing the speed and excitement of this modern aircraft. Actually there is little of the jet sound here. The production, however, has a fine sound and the artists are adept at their work. The guitars are heard with various types of percussion and in some cases with organ. Musically interesting and the set has a beat.

1959 NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences) Nominations would find Supersonics in Flight up for a Best Engineering award in the “Novelty Recording” category!

The Barclay Stars: Five French Guitars

The album cover would seem to say it all —Les Barclay Stars - Guitars Unlimited

but the liner notes reveal that this is not just any ordinary guitar army:

This album was recorded in France.  It spotlights the work of five of France’s outstanding guitarists:  Francis Le Maguer (musical director), Pierre Cullaz, Raymond Gimenes, Paul Piguillem, and Victor Apicella.  This is the first record on which they have played together as an orchestra.  These five guitarists form the “Barclay Stars Orchestra” in which the guitars play the trumpet, trombone and saxophone parts of a conventional orchestra.

Although this 1966 album proudly bears the Atco imprint from front to back, Atlantic Records is simply serving as the American distributor for a work that was originally recorded in Paris by Barclay Records in glorious monophonic sound (for best results, observe the R.I.A.A. high frequency roll off characteristic with a 500 cycle crossover).

The album leans heavily toward traditional jazz, with a healthy dollop of Duke Ellington   (“In a Mellow Tone”; “Sophisticated Lady”; “Satin Doll” & Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train”) and a pinch of Woody Herman (“Early Autumn”), balanced by more contemporary fare via Neal Hefti (“Flight of the Foo Birds” & “Fantail”) and Horace Silver (“Opus de Funk”).

Check out this toe-tapping jazz standard, “Four Brothers,” composed by Jimmy Guiffre and brought to life originally by the Woody Herman Orchestra:

Four Brothers – The Barclay Stars

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle to play “Four Brothers” as picked by The Barclay Stars.]

Half of two-page ad published in the OCTOBER 22, 1966 EDITION of Billboard

One and Done?

It appears that Guitars Unlimited would be the first and only guitar summit from five of France’s finest — an outcome whose likelihoojazzd was signaled in the last sentence of the liner notes by the phrase, chances are:

“The sound they generate is so unusual that chances are there will be many more albums by the Barclay Stars.”