This is the first in a series of posts that will celebrate leading American session guitarist and pioneer of electronic effects Vincent 'Vinnie' Bell.
One of the two or three greatest guitar geeks of the Space Age Pop era, Vinnie Bell will go down in musical history as the inventor of the 'water guitar sound' that was a big fad in instrumental recordings during the '60s.
Used most prominently on Ferrante and Teicher's 1969 Top Ten cover of the theme to "Midnight Cowboy", and on his own rendition of the "'Airport' Love Theme" in 1970, the effect became one of the most-copied technique among guitarists until the wah-wah pedal became standard equipment in the '70s. Among the other essential records that feature his trademark sound, we should at least mention Dick Hyman / Mary Mayo's "Moon Gas", released in 1963 and available here on Stereo Candies..
Originally a Brooklyn boy, born just about a mile from Coney Island, Bell started to learn to play the mandolin when he was four years old according to the old method: solfeggio and a good swat for every mistake. Then, at eight years of age came the switch to guitar, and at the ripe maturity of twelve years the start of his professional career.
His training was informal, but with some good teachers like Tony Mottola and Carmen Mastren. Mottola taught him the basic all-around fundamentals and made him his protégé, while Mastren taught him the rhythm guitar. He also studied under Everett Barksdale and Mickey Baker.
Long before any company commercially produced guitar effects pedals, Vinnie Bell was tinkering and inventing with his own electronic custom effects pedals for his guitars. He constantly invented new effects using fuzz distortion and wah-wah pedals, before anyone else had them. This gave him an edge over most other guitarists in the '60s recording world, and producers loved to bring him on their sessions to get his unique guitar effects.
Bell soon became an in-demand session guitarist. The list of artists who benefited from his work is huge and includes Louis Armstrong, Simon and Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Donovan, The Mamas & The Papas, The Four Seasons, The Lovin' Spoonful, Bobby Darin and many more...
As I'm still working to provide you with an extended biography, for the time being I strongly invite you to check this page on the great Space Age Pop website to read more information about him.
Vincent Bell as pictured on the back cover of his debut album, circa 1960
Here's the track list for this 7" single:
01. Lead Guitar (1:45)
02. Quicksand (2:17)
Both tracks were remastered from vinyl in January 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original release.
As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download link.
Produced by Monte Bruce, the "Lead Guitar / Quicksand" single was released sometimes in early/mid 1960 by Independent Record Company, a small label distributed by Laurie Records, which only produced three Vincent Bell releases - all of them during the same year - and nothing else.
The single marks the debut of Vincent Bell as a solo artist, and was released before the album "The Soundtronic Guitar of Vincent Bell", whose release date is often wrongly placed in 1959. As a matter of fact, Billboard informed record dealers that such LP had a «limited sales potential» no earlier than November 21, 1960, so I guess that a late 1960 release date for the album is more correct. Anyway, how cruel is that? Isn't it...?
I guess that this single is one of the most rare Vincent Bell records. Although it is not worth a fortune, it took some time before I could lay my hands on it. My copy comes in a white sleeve and is sooooo wooooorn that I almost can't believe it plays without any skips on both sides, phew!
Since it was originally distributed by Laurie Records, it is more than speculation to believe that, at the time of release, the single came in a company sleeve similar to the one I decided to use in the first picture of this post.
Both tracks are composed by Bell and are credited to his birth name, Vincent Gambella, on the centre labels. The two short numbers on offer here are literally stuffed with effects and tricks that Bell had in part already adopted when he guested on a few releases during 1958-1959 (...namely "Jersey Bounce" by The Spacemen, "Smoke Rings" by The Overtones and "Barracuda" by The Gallahads - all of which will be posted here on Stereo Candies soon...) and that he will expand on his following full-lenght releases.
The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered single, enjoy "Lead Guitar" and "Quicksand"!
More information about Vincent Bell is available here:
If you have any other useful information about Vincent Bell - especially corrections and improvements to this post - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!