Atlanta’s Forty Fives employ Lennon-style screams and guitars to Get It Together

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 15, 2000

By Steve Newton

Atlanta’s Forty Fives were hugely influenced by the British Invasion of the early ’60s, so it’s no big shock that singer-guitarist Bryan Malone winds up sounding a lot like “Twist and Shout”–era John Lennon on a couple of tunes from the band’s debut CD, Get It Together.

“That just happens because I’m screaming a lot of the times,” says Malone, calling from the band’s home base. But inside that CD’s booklet there’s a photo of the quartet in concert, and Malone is pictured playing a Rickenbacker, the same guitar Lennon favoured in the early days. Now, isn’t that taking the Lennon homage a little too far?

“For a long time I didn’t want to do that,” says Malone, “because I always get that comparison anyway. But when we got in the studio I ended up using this Rickenbacker for most of the record, because I just liked the sound of it so much. And so after that I decided to get one.”

Though they may share similar screams and axes, one thing that does set the Forty Fives apart from the Fab Four is their prominent use of the Hammond B-3 organ, courtesy of Trey Tidwell. That also keeps the group distinct from most of the others down Georgia way.

“There’s a couple of garage bands that do like Farfisa [keyboard] stuff, but I think we’re one of the only ones around here with a big, thick organ sound. The thing about it is, it’s hard to find someone to play that kinda stuff around here. A lotta people will buy these things and basically teach themselves, chord along to songs, but the guy we’ve got, he really knows what he’s doing.”

Although a quick glance at the song titles on Get It Together might make you think that the Forty Fives have retooled old tunes by the Beatles (“Anytime at All”) and the Edgar Winter Group (“Undercover Man”), all but one of the 13 selections are originals. The lone cover is a version of blues hero Jimmy Reed’s “Ain’t That Lovin’ You”.

“That was just one we were playin’ around with in the set,” explains Malone, whose band visits the Brickyard on Wednesday (June 21). “We actually do the Link Wray version of that song. He did a cover of it in the mid-’60s, and I just always loved that song, especially his version.”

Malone’s appreciation of instro-rock legend Wray grew immeasurably last year when the Forty Fives were booked to open two shows for the original Rumbler.

“He’s a beautiful man,” notes Malone, “and we had a blast. We would show up at the sound check and just basically sit there with our mouths open, so by the second show he knew who we were. He came walkin’ across the room with his arm extended—‘The Forty Fives are here!’ It was one of the shining moments of my life.”

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