This fabulous reissue will be eagerly snapped up by the Rapiers’ legion of fans. Thanks to Colin Pryce-Jones’ ultra-strict quality control, releases of any kind from the group are few and far between. Between 1983 and the present day the group has released (excluding compilations and reissues) just two vinyl singles, seven vinyl EPs, two vinyl LPs and two CDs. It’s hardly a vast output – but it does mean that each and every Rapiers track is a polished gem.
In their own way the Rapiers have become a national institution/treasure insofar as instrumental fans are concerned. While the Shadows were inactive the Rapiers became a tribute band before the genre had been invented. They have been a fixture of Bruce Welch’s Shadowmania events and they have regularly backed high calibre artists such as Tommy Bruce, Freddie Garrity, Heinz, Wee Willie Harris, Screaming Lord Sutch, Mike Berry, Terry Dene, Charlie Gracie, Linda Gail Lewis, John Leyton and Jet Harris to name only a few. In 2003 the group played the part of the Shadows in the West End show “Cliff the Musical”.
Why was this LP titled “1961”? Socially and musically it’s undoubtedly a year in which Colin Pryce-Jones would love to inhabit in a permanent time-warp. The type of music that he loves held sway and the Shadows’ first LP had just been released. Devotees could argue about this incessantly. For John Lennon, rock’n’roll was dead and buried (as he saw it) even before 1961. There are those who maintain that the Shadows ‘ended’ by the time that Jet and Tony had left. Should the Beatles and the Rolling Stones have split up after their respective debut LPs etc? Rapiers fan extraordinaire Greg Ogarrio (who runs the Rapiers Website – check out www.Rapiers.net from his San Francisco home) mentions a conversation with former Rapiers bassman Brad Dallaston whose view of 1961 was “That was the last year worth listening to rock‘n’roll.” I can recall many similar chats with Brad when he was generally even more forthright.
The sessions for “1961” (which took place between the 24 March 1987 and 4 April 1987) were fraught with problems as Colin Pryce-Jones relates: “It wasn’t the sessions as such that were problematic. We’d been desperate to get into the studios for some time and the dates became available at fairly short notice. No, the main difficulties were that Roger [Cover, bass] had announced that he was leaving the group and Dave [Lawes, rhythm] had already booked to go on holiday! So, on some of the tracks I’m playing bass, rhythm and lead! Overall though, I was very happy with the end product. Listening to it all again almost twenty years on, it still sounds really fresh.”
On the original LP both Frank Allen (Searchers) and Jet Harris (Shadows) extol the virtues of the Rapiers. Prophetically, Jet stated “I hope that 12 April 1987 is just the start of a solid relationship between myself and the Rapiers.” It was and the Rapiers have backed him on hundreds of shows. “When I’m onstage with the Rapiers, it’s like having Hank, Bruce and Tony up here with me” Jet said at one concert. He meant every word of it too. Bruce Welch too has frequently said of the Rapiers “The Rapiers are the best 60s group since the 60s…. and, as everybody knows, they are the top Shadows band in the country.” We are fortunate that the Rapiers have dates booked well into 2006. They will be backing Jet, Mike Berry, John Leyton and Billie Davis amongst others. They also have many shows lined up in their own right. Go and see them if you get the chance. The Rapiers truly are “The Titans Of Twang”.
By Rob Bradford