Friday, February 1, 2019

Spies and Secrets: F.B.I.

Ian Hunter: F.B.I.
[purchase the album at a very high price]
[purchase just the song, at a reasonable price]

Growing up, as a good liberal child in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the FBI was the enemy. Under the leadership of director J. Edgar Hoover, and after his death, the FBI was instrumental in trying to suppress the civil rights and anti-war movements, discriminate against gays, and generally act as a tool of the “Establishment.” I personally have no problem with enforcing the law, if done fairly and within the bounds of the law—and so I have no problem with the FBI’s anti organized crime or terrorism work, for example—but with respect to the civil rights and antiwar stuff, they definitely crossed the line. Which may be why, in part, it wasn’t hard to watch The Americans, and find myself sorta pulling for the Russians, even though watching the show demonstrated that they were also pretty horrible.

It is interesting, though, that now it is the “leader” of the American government himself who is the biggest critic of the FBI, despite the fact that he appointed its director. And let me be clear—former director Comey deserved to be fired by whichever candidate won the 2016 election because of the way he botched the handling of the investigations of both candidates. But to have done so for the explicit reason of impeding the investigation into alleged conspiracy with Russia to influence the election is simply wrong, and probably illegal. So, it is amusing that these days, it seems like it is the liberal Democrats who seem to be bigger fans of the FBI than the Republicans.

I doubt that the FBI is that big a deal in England, much as the band The Shadows was never that big a deal here. (How’s that for a clunky segue?) But in England, they were huge, with multiple hits, and lead guitarist Hank Marvin influenced pretty much every great English/Canadian/Australian guitarist, including Richard Thompson, Andy Summers, Brian May, Steve Howe, George Harrison, Neil Young, Tommy Emmanuel, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Mark Knopfler, Peter Frampton, and Jeff Beck. Just to name a few.

Although they started out as the backup band for Cliff Richard, maybe the poster child for “huge in England, mostly unknown in the US,” the Shadows went on to fame in their own right, mostly as an instrumental band. “F.B.I.,” released in 1961, was not their biggest hit, but it did hit #6 on the UK charts (and never charted in the US.)

Ian Hunter opened his 1980 live album, Welcome to the Club, with a cover of the song, featuring his band’s guitarist, Mick Ronson, who has also been quoted as saying that Marvin and The Shadows were influences on him. (Both Ronson and Marvin appeared on Roger Daltrey’s solo album, One of the Boys, for what that’s worth). It is a great way to kick off a great live album that includes a bunch of Hunter’s and Mott the Hoople’s best songs (and some other interesting covers). I remember playing this album more than a few times at WPRB.

The aforementioned Brian May also covered the song on a 1996 tribute album to Marvin and The Shadows, as have others.

blog comments powered by Disqus