An album by a man very nearly celebrating 50 years in the music business is always eagerly anticipated, and Hank Marvin can play the guitar, there has never been doubt about that, but does he still excite as in the heyday of the Shadows? Unfortunately, no. This is a very formulaic, made-for-television-advertising album, the sort that Marvin and the Shadows have specialized in releasing since the late '70s when they, and he, last enjoyed any real success on the singles chart. It is similar in style to the Shadows number one album String of Hits from 1980 which covered the major hits of the recent times and, like most of his albums released on the Universal TV label and its predecessor, Polygram TV, specialized in mass market, and depended on prime time TV advertising for sales. Guitar Man will always be identifiable by the era it was recorded and released in, as it features versions of Katie Melua's "Nine Million Bicycles," James Blunt's biggest hit from the summer of 2005 "You're Beautiful," and the Take That number one comeback single from Christmas 2006, "Patience." There are some songs that lend themselves to instrumental guitar tracks, specifically the album's first and last songs, "Guitar Man" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," but whoever chose the track listing did not anticipate that the rock song "Light My Fire," the reggae track "Wild World," and the hit associated with Madness, "It Must Be Love," would make Marvin's guitar playing as bland and as safe as elevator music, and find Larry Carlton playing "Sleep Walk." Guitar Man was Marvin's first Top Ten album since 2002's Guitar Player, and as on that album, he was accompanied by Gary Taylor, Ric Eastman, Ben Marvin, and Roy Martinez along with Phil Watts, Nonzio Mondia, and Chris Tarr. In fact, by charting as high as number six in its second week, it became Marvin's best ever showing as a solo artist in the U.K., so perhaps he has found what his fans want in the 21st century, after all.
Guitar Man Review
by Sharon Mawer