Marvin, Welch & Farrar

Marvin, Welch & Farrar

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Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch and John Farrar - the Shadows by any other name, but a further cry from the old band name you could not imagine. Cut in 1971, Marvin Welch & Farrar may or may not be the template around which everyone from vintage 10cc to classic Wishbone Ash modeled their magic. But it certainly sounds like it should have been.

Full harmonies and scything guitars disavow even a suggestion of revivalism. "You're Burning Bridges," the opening track, is a prog freak fest disguised as a three minute boogie rocker, while "Faithful," the album's first (and only) single, finds the trio heading firmly towards American stadium territory.

Even the two most obvious acknowledgements of the group's heritage, rerecordings of the Marvin-composed Cliff Richard singles "Silvery Rain" and "Throw Down A Line," have little in common with their forebears. It was once remarked that nothing short of a complete reconstruction could save "Throw Down A Line" from the pits of mawkish MOR hell. In fact, it required nothing so drastic - just a pounding rhythm, a splintered guitar and some good ol' bellowed vocals. The post-pollution nightmare of "Silvery Rain," meanwhile, takes on an air of desperation which its "fly away Peter, fly away Paul" refrain once utterly negated.

Possibly Marvin Welch Farrar takes itself a little too seriously to be viewed as anything but a curious adjunct to the mainstream Shadows story, but hindsight is also flavored by the knowledge that its advances would soon be snuffed out by its makers' return to the mothership - having disbanded in 1969, the Shadows officially reformed in 1973. Accepted on its own terms, Marvin, Welch and Farrar crafted a rousing, respectable and utterly enjoyable early 1970s rock album. What more could they have wanted to do?

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