One of my favorite bands, The Art Of Noise (out of London), had been around for a few years before they landed on my music radar in 1986 with their magnificent cover of Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn,” the theme from the 1958 TV show of the same name.
The first version of “Peter Gunn” (released as a single) was by trumpeter Ray Anthony and reached No. 8 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in 1959. Many folks have covered “Peter Gunn” over the years, including versions by The Kingsmen in 1965, Emerson, Lake & Palmer in 1979, Aretha Franklin in 1980, and a kick-ass vocal version by Atlanta’s The Jody Grind on their 1990 debut album, ONE MAN’S TRASH IS ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE.
Prolly the best-known version of “Peter Gunn” was recorded by Corning, New York Rockabilly guitar legend Duane Eddy in 1959, which was a U.K. Top 10 hit that would find its way to a No. 27 peak on the Hot 100 in 1960.
For their 1986 cover of “Peter Gunn” (found on their second album, IN VISIBLE SILENCE), The Art Of Noise decided to recruit Duane Eddy for their version. It proved to be a smart move. The Rockabilly guitar stylings of Duane Eddy against the Alt-Dance work of The Art Of Noise meshed well together and created one of the band’s biggest hits, and gave The Art Of Noise their first Hot 100 hit, and gave Duane Eddy his first Hot 100 hit in 23 years.
“Peter Gunn” peaked at No. 50 on the Hot 100 in early July 1986 and fared even better on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, reaching No. 2. Around the globe, “Peter Gunn” hit No. 3 in New Zealand, No. 6 in Ireland, No. 8 in the U.K., No. 10 in Austria, No. 14 in Canada and No. 17 in both Germany and Switzerland. The video featured the late, great actor Rik Mayall (you prolly know him best from THE YOUNG ONES and DROP DEAD FRED), and the song even won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
Duane Eddy, who just turned 78 in April, last recorded a studio album in 2011 (ROAD TRIP), and The Art Of Noise were last together in 2000, but it was this amazing collaboration and cover version of “Peter Gunn” that I will love forever, especially since it’s the song that introduced me to The Art Of Noise. It’s one of the finest pieces of music I’ve ever heard, courtesy of a man with a twangy guitar and a band that did their own thing and did it well…