Davie Allan & The Arrows - Biography
By Nick Castro
Davie Allan and The Arrows was an instrumental group from the 60's, who did a series of famous soundtracks. The group was led by Davie Allan, who has created come of the most memorable moments in rock guitar history. Allan was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the San Fernando Valley. Soon Allan was playing with high school friend, Mike Curb. Together, they began what would be a long and successful career. They began as a surf band, ad this can be heard in Allan's guitar work, even in later years. Curb began the first of his many record labels, Cude, Records, and released the first Allan single, "War Path".
Allan was working, beginning in 1964, as a session musician for Mercury Records, and appeared on record like The Hondells Go Little Honda (1964 - Mercury) and the record The Buddies and The Compacts (1965 - Mercury).
It was Curb's label, Sidewalk Records, though, that would prove to be the beginning of the big time for the duo. The label was distributed through Tower records, and the founded the backing band that would help define their sound, the Arrows. The first album was Apache '65 (1965 - Tower). This record is tame, when compared to their later works. It barely features any of the fuzz guitar that would become their trademark sound. Allan and Curb followed this record with a soundtrack to a short film, called Skaterdater (1965 - Mira), which garnered the attention of filmmaker Roger Corman, after being shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Corman and his company, American Iternational Pictures, got a deal together with Curb and soon they were supplying music for many of Corman's movies.
The first soundtrack The Arrows did for Corman was The Wild Angels (1966 - Tower), which is widely considered to be the highlight of all of the the albums by Davie Allan and The Arrows. They had a minor hit with the song "Blues' Theme". In all, the group would do over 20 soundtracks for Corman and would help define, with their unique fuzz guitar sound, the B movie genre of the 60's. They did a soundtrack, Devil's Angels (1967 - Tower), for a biker movie, which starred John Cassavetes as the biker gang's ring leader. Included on the record are famous session musicians, such as Larry Knetchel, Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye.
Davie Allan and the Arrows continued to do session work for many notable surf groups, like Teddy & Darrell and Priscilla. Their next notable work for the AIP company was their soundtrack The Born Losers (1967 - Tower), which was the first of Tom Laughlin's Billy Jack movies. They also recorded the soundtrack for the movie, The Glory Stompers, which starred Dennis Hopper. Astrology for Young Lovers (1967 - Sidewalk), the Casey Kasem album, would also be a noteworthy album, and one where Allan received no credit for the music, even though all Kasem did, was narrate.
Often when one mentions fuzz guitar to music aficionados, Allan's name instantly comes up. He has influenced generations of guitar players since his earliest records. His fans stretch many walks of life including people who enjoy surf, punk, psych, rock and garage rock. Even modern bands, like Sonic Youth, have claimed Davie Allan and The Arrows to be a huge influence on their guitar sounds. Many of the exploitative movies the band was soundtracking for allowed them room to try sounds, which may otherwise be uncommercial if intended for release without a movie attached to it. A good example of this are the albums Cycle-Delic Sounds (1967 - Tower) and Hellcats (1968 - Tower).
Allan has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the the last few decades, after slowing down the rate of releases in the 70's and 80's. He has done soundtrack work, with Tom Waits, for Jim Jarmusch on the film Night on Earth, which starred Winona Ryder and Roberto Benigni. Beginning in the 90's, Allan began to receive attention from independent record labels, who were interested in retro sounds. Allan began a new series of records for these labels to satisfy his growing cult fan base. He released the albums Old Neck and New Strings (1990 - Dionysus) and Loud, Loose and Savage (1994 - Iloki). This latter album was a collection of recordings that Allan had been working on, with friends, for many years. The same fuzz guitar sound, that his fans wanted to hear, was still present as it was in the 60's. Even the album's artwork was reminiscent of the classic biker films Allan used to write for. He followed this with the album Fuzz Fest (1996 - AVI), which was produced by Chris Ashford, and is another shining example of Alan's fuzz guitar, as the title suggests. His songs Six-String Highway" and "Helldorado" harken back to the lessons of his earlier efforts.
One of Allan's more popular recent records is a project called Ramonetures, which was started by Phantom Surfers' guitar player, Mel Bergman. Allan played lead on their first record. By the end of the 90's Allan began to tour Europe, for the first time since the 60's and began to record many more records, including Live Run (2000 - Total Energy) which was a live concert that Allan performed in 1999. of coursehe performs his classic "Blues' Theme" and the crowd can be head going wild over it. Comparisons to Link Wray are often drawn but Allan definitely proves he is his
own man with efforts like this one.
Restless in L.A. (2003 - Sundazed) is one of Allan's more recent efforts and features a reworked version of the song "Theme from The Wild Angels" as well as a version of the Electric Prunes' "I Had Too Much Too Dream Last Night". Allan's newest efforts are his holiday album called Fuzz for the Holidays (2008 - Wicked Cool), which finds Allan and the Arrows doing 12 instrumental holiday songs like "Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me" and "Rockin' Around the Christmans Tree", and the album Moving Right Along (2008 - Spinout), which again features some priceless guitar work on songs like "Frustration" and "Listen to the Guitar Man".