5 December 2011

One Hit Wonders #21 - The Krew Kats - Trambone/ Peak Hour

Label: HMV
Year of Release: 1961

It's very tricky to pop into your local second hand record shop and not stumble upon some old near-hit from a British instrumental act - there were so many of them about during the early sixties, after all. The trouble is, many of the copies are battered and scratched to kingdom come, having enjoyed the pleasure of soundtracking parties, gatherings or just plain old Dansette scuffing within the first few years of their purchase.

It was an absolute unexpected pleasure to stumble upon a copy of this one in excellent condition, then. "Trambone" was a very minor hit in 1961, peaking at number 33. Its popularity may not have been significant enough to make it a major smash, but it was clearly enough to ensure that the track is still available to buy on iTunes to this day, meaning we'll have to content ourselves with a brief edit of its charms below.

Not that any of this really matters, because it's the B-side that contains the biggest surprise. "Peak Hour" is a surf-guitar styled instrumental with dramatic flourishes, jittery, skittish rhythms and some of the best twanging you'll have ever heard. One of those "too good to be buried on a flipside" moments, it's short and sharp, but riddled with drama. If this were the mid-nineties it would no doubt be a candidate for the soundtrack of some retro-gangster styled flick - as it's not, perhaps it will eventually gain popularity serving a more dignified role.

The Krew Kats were probably better known as The Wild Cats, Marty Wilde's backing group for much of his career. Rather than keep the "Wild Cats" moniker for their two non-Wilde 45s ("Samovar" was the follow-up to this), they rather bafflingly chose this identity instead. The most significant member of the band during this period was undoubtedly their drummer Brian Bennett, who was poached by The Shadows after Tony Meehan departed their ranks, and continued to produce a varied array of work away from The Shadows as well. Amongst his claims to fame are the BBC Golf theme "Chase Side Shoot Up" (also a "Northern Soul dancer" if some sources are to be trusted, and frankly I'm not sure they are), the theme to the sit-com "Robin's Nest" and various ditties composed for the ITV schools broadcasts between 1987 - 1993. "Peak Hour" is just one of the many surprising sidetracks and diversions during his main career as a skin-thumper in The Shadows, and arguably one of the best pieces of vinyl to feature his contributions.

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