By way of explanation. Pete Holidai is known to some as the guitarist with the cherished Radiators ( from Space ), an undersold entity spawned as Dublin’s best shot during the mud of late 70’s punk. This band drew from a wide catchment of sources so it’s no surprise that THE DEVIL’S GUITAR utilises the 1950’s as it’s pivot. Although the Formula Steamroller pace of the Rads has probably left Mr Holidai plenty of time to write and record as an outside entity, this solo album is a debut – probably long conceived and talked up before a note was ever strummed.
This is vaguely a concept recording in cinematic, broody Jimmy Dean mode, mapping out a common thread like a Ventures record and citing the likes of Martin Denny and Les Baxter as influential. The album’s signature track THE DEVIL’S GUITAR has a distinct fusion to it… the melting pot of Duane Eddy twangs and lounge percussion make it every bit the 50’s nostalgia binge it emulates but there’s something else going on here. A spinal jazzy bass and intermittent blasts of brass also evoke a rooftop chase of some patchwork denim hoodlum in a mid 70’s Malpaso production. From here things cruise into lounge mode. The first few pastel seconds of THE GIRL IN THE CAR flutter open like a Doris Day movie before settling into something sounding more like a post-Sun Records Roy Orbison cut. No mean feat and something which will always get the thumbs up here. FAMESVILLE is definitely the point at which that Martin Denny strain of exotica surfaces, with it’s sunset, lapping wave and tiki candle percussion. LUNAR GIRL is another downbeat piece of lounge pop with punctuated with spacey electronics and shimmering guitar twangs. THE LONELY ONE is the album’s crooner ( although no in the mafia cabaret sense ) and FALLEN ANGEL arrives right on time, prodding the pace with it’s snarling whispers and carrying itself as one of the albums highlights. IN A SPECIAL WAY brings a touch of Chris Isaac to the album and FIREWORKS OVER RHONDA is another classic surf instrumental with brazen guitar clangs, b-movie incidental organ and some of the album’s finest beats and random noises. An organ led JACK OF HEARTS delivers another piece of downbeat twangy pop with some great guitar on the lead out. The reprise of LUNAR GIRL as a space-tiki instrumental rolls like cinematic end credits on the album as it is formally track listed although there are 2 extra tracks – THE DEVIL’S GUITAR BERLIN MIX retreats the opener with samples of JFK’s 1963 “Ich bin ein Berliner” cold war diatribe and ERASERBED leads out on an upbeat note with a few last helpings of gratuitous tremolo.
This album is the result of crate digging – a careful and almost academic dissection of some less acknowledged flavours from rock’n’roll and electric guitar’s infancy. It’s an interesting and somewhat brave take on an era of music where the standard is to grease up and become a mid-life-crisis-abilly, an all too apparent pandemic in the last 10 years or so. Around the time of this release there was also a random track called BABY I’M DOING MY THING kicking about as a free Bandcamp download although it doesn’t seem to be there now. This is an excellent glam stomper and I’ve no idea why it wasn’t on the album as it probably would have bubbled in the melting pot a little better than imagined. – BOZ
The CD was Limited to 100. For download version go to peteholidai.bandcamp.com