The Reg Guest Syndicate
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1966)
- Reg Guest (aka Earl Guest) -- keyboards
supporting musicians: (1966)
- Jim Buck -- drums, percussion
- Jack Emblow -- accordion
- Eric Ford -- guitar, bass
- John Paul Jones -- bass
- Earl Guest and the Nashville Five
- Reg Guest and His Orchestra
- The John Keating Orchestrat
Rating: 3 stars ***
Country/State: Birmingham, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: mono pressing
Catalog ID: --
Reg "Earl" Guest started his musical career in the 1950s playing keyboards in a string of local British dance bands including The Arthur Rowberry' Orchestra, London's Streatham Locarno, The Phil Tate Orchestra, The Teddy Foster's Orchestra , and The Billy Tergent' Orchestra. In the mid-'50s he turned his attention to studio work which proved financially reward, if exhausting. In the early-'60s he founded The Nashville Five who recorded several country-tinged singles for Decca. Credited to Earl Guest, he also recorded a series of solo singles for Columbia.
Give Guest credit for reading popular trends and musical tastes. In this case he saw an opportunity to take advantage of the mid-60s audience's infatuation with James Bond styled spies. The result was the release of 1966's "Underworld." Credited to The Reg Guest Syndicate, the studio entity featured Guest on keyboards with support from drumer Jim Buck, accordion player Jack Emblow, guitarist Eric Ford, and John Paul Jones on bass. Recorded over a three day period, the all-instrumental collection offered up a mixture of film and television theme songs, rounded out by a pair of similarly styled Guest originals. Exemplified by Guest's remakes of the Bond themes 'Goldfinger' and 'Thunderball', Guest stay fairly close to the original arrangements, though he shed some of the over-the-top orchestration in favor of "curious, little-known weapons - the transichord (actually an electronic accordion) and two under-exploited instruments, the 6 string and 12 string electric bass guitars." I'm not going to make any effort to convince you this is the coolest album released in 1966. It's not. That said, it is kind of a neat and entertaining timepiece and the two Guest originals were surprisingly good. The title track sounded like Booker T. & the MGs doing a Bond theme, while the closer 'Guys, Guns, Dolls and Danger' sounded like a mash-up of earlier themes. My only real complaint was the album was extremely brief, clocking in at under thirty minutes.
"Underworld" track listing:
1.) The James Bond Theme (Double-O-Seven) (instrumental) (N. Norman) - 2:48 rating: *** stars
Like most of these ten tracks, the cover of 'The James Bond Theme' didn't vary drastically from the original. Less orchestration and some cool '60s jazz-rock vibes, but not original enough to beat the original.
2.) Goldfinger (instrumental) (John Barry - Anthony Newley - Leslie Bricusse) - 2:15 rating: *** stars
Perhaps because I grew up with it, I miss the original version featuring Shirley Bassey on vocals ... The remake stripped away much of the original's heavy orchestration, adding in Jones' six string bass and Guest's cheesy organ. The results offered up a neat '60s vibe to the song.
3.) Thunderball (instrumental) (Jeff Barry - Don Black) - 2:30 rating: *** stars
Take my comments from the previous tune; replaced the reference to Shirley Bassey with Tom Jones and plug in the same comments. Well, I guess this one put more of the spotlight on Ford's guitar.
4.) Theme from the Saint (instrumental) (Edwin Astley) - 1:48 rating: *** stars
The original melody was still here, but this time around Guest's arrangement slapped a brittle, scratchy feel too the proceedings. If was actually fascinating to hear.
5.) Underworld (instrumental) (Reg Guest) - 2:40 rating: **** stars
One of two original compositions, 'Underworld' was an album a highlight. Powered by some awesome fuzz guitar and equally good Hammond B3 organ, it's been described as Booker T. & the MGs' 'Green Onions' running into a James Bond theme song. To be honest, Guest was lucky Stax didn't slapped him with a copyright lawsuit. The track was also released as an English single:
- 1966's 'Underworld' b/w 'Guns, Dolls and Danger' (Mercury catalog number MF 927)
1.) Theme from "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." (instrumental) (J. Goldsmith) - 1:46 rating: ** stars
Rote and forgettable cover ...
2.) Theme from "The Avengers" (instrumental) (L. Johnson) - 2:13 rating: *** stars
I wonder how much of my teen years I spent watching The Avenger re-runs. Ah, Emma Peel. All I can say is this brings back fond memories.
3.) Burke's Law (instrumental) (Herschel Burke Gilbert - S.R. Kuller) - 2:06 rating: *** stars
Admittedly I've never seen the early-'60s American television show "Burke's Law." Similarly, I'd never heard the theme song. When I tracked down the original theme, I discovered Guest shed the original's jazzy, keyboard vibe for a more upbeat, commercial arrangement.
4.) The RatCatchers Theme from "The Ratcatchers" (instrumental) (Johnny Pearson) - 2:48 rating: *** stars
Another unknown track to me ... Turns out "The RatCatchers" was basically a British remake of "The Man from Uncle." Starring Gerald Ford, Glyn Owen, and Phillip Stone, one of the reasons it isn't well know in the States is virtually all copies of the show were destroyed. Only one partial and one full episode still exist. Written by Johnny Pearson, the original theme song fit squarely in the "spy" genre. Once again, Guest's version stayed true to the original melody, cutting down on some of the orchestration and shovng Ford's guitar into the whole.
5.) Guys, Guns, Dolls and Danger (instrumental) (Reg Guest) - 2:20 rating: *** stars
The second Guest original also featured Ford's guitar and sounded like it had been spliced together from outtakes from the various other themes.
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