Forgotten series: Jet Harris and Tony Meehan – Diamonds and Other Gems: The Complete Singles (2008)

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True to its name, this is a complete singles collection of ex-Shadows bassist Jet Harris and drummer Tony Meehan, recorded between 1962-1964 both as a duo and as solo artists for Decca UK.

Jet’s deep, booming six-string bass and Tony’s solid, melodic drums are heard throughout, really driving the music here as it should. Unlike the previous Universal Records CD The Best of Jet Harris & Tony Meehan (2000), which lacked the two separate Jet Harris EP tracks “Wild One (Real Wild Child)” and “Clap Your Hands (Once Again),” this reissue contains them both. RPM included 20 tracks in all, applying their usual top notch touch with attractive packaging and quality mastering. The musician’s relevant singles and EP sleeves compliment the whole Harris-Meehan story, as re-told here.

What can you say about these classics? Jet Harris’ mammoth “The Man With The Golden Arm: Main Title Theme” stands above all. The towering bass sounds like a great, lost James Bond movie theme song. Meanwhile, “Man from Tomorrow” sounds like follow-up to that particular hit but in a slightly less dynamic way, yet it’s still cool. Jet and Tony Meehan’s Western-sounding “Diamonds” (with Jet’s melodic bass and Tony’s pulsating drums, not to mention Jimmy Page on acoustic guitar) is another classic that wouldn’t have sounded out of place as a Shadows single. In fact, that applies to many of the songs here — whether solo or as a duo. How could they not, being ex-Shadows? Meehan’s “Song of Mexico,” credited to his combo, is another solid Shadows-like effort.

Of the vocal numbers, I favor Jet’s “Besame Mucho” the most, with Jet’s fab six-string bass carrying the majority of the melody. The Harris-sung version of “Chills and Fever” is pretty darn good. It’s the same song that served as Tom Jones’ failed first single. Still, though Jet’s singing is competent on the vocal-oriented singles, his real voice is his bass guitar. “Rave” is a pretty cool, upbeat, almost Bo Diddley-like reverb number for Jet, with some bluesy harmonica added. The vocal tune “Some People” is a teen-themed, happy-go-lucky song.

You know “Wild One (Real Wild Child)” from Crickets drummer Jerry Allison’s 1950s’ version — or perhaps from Iggy Pop’s solo version — but Jet grabs it as his own theme song. Oddly enough, Jet and Tony’s “Scarlett O’Hara” and “Applejack” both tread a similar middle-of-the-road musical ground that the Shadows were on themselves by 1963.

“Clap Your Hands (Once Again)” is alright in its Gene Vincent approach but, it didn’t do that much for me. Jet’s 1964 tune “Big Bad Bass” was supposed to have been a return to more rock’ n’ roll-oriented tunes, but it sounds tame to me. The b-side to that song “Rifka” has an almost early Fleetwood Mac, “Albatross”-like sound in its simple, more single-note approach.

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Steve Elliott

Steve Elliott

Steve Elliott has written for Shindig, Twist and Shake, Garage & Beat and Ugly Things. A big fan of all things rock and roll - especially the British Invasion, garage rock, psychedelic, new wave, folk rock, surf and power pop - he was a consultant on Sundazed Music's reissue of 'The Best of Butch Engle & The Styx: No Matter What You Say' in 2000, and has also provided liner notes for Italy's Misty Lane Records. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Steve Elliott
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