Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Al Casey - The Return Of The Green Gretschdotdotdotdot
artworkI didn't know if this was going to be great or so-so, or even schmaltzy old-age crud. It turned out to be well worth tracking down. Much of it was recorded just weeks before Al Casey's death in 2006. The rest dates from 1999, plus a handful of absolute gems from the vaults cut in 1963, including two unreleased tracks from The Storms (Jody Reynolds band with Al Casey on lead), and some equally cool unreleased Casey tracks from about the same time. The cover of The Strangers' "Caterpillar Crawl" just may be the best ever!
Picks: Temptation, Calmez Hotel, Fair And Cloudy, A Mellow Riff, Remember The Minuet, Hokus Pokus, Melancholy Serenade, September Song, T.O.M. (The Old Man), Stingereee, Nauges, Uptown Blues, Ziggie's Blues, In The Garden, Amazing Grace, Thunder Cloud, Swamp Water, Allen Case, Drivin', Jezebel, Caterpillar Crawl

Track by Track Review

Temptation dotdotdotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

Classy acoustic guitar and drums set the stage for an exotic romp through the Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown classic. Al Casey's tremolo guitar is sultry as all get-out, and is perfectly matched to the backtrack. There's fuzz third guitar abut half way into the track that adds an understated edge. Very cool!

Calmez Hotel dotdotdot
Easy Listening (Instrumental)

"Calmez Hotel" (Clinton, Oklahoma) is a jazzy country sort of Chet Atkins thing that's fun, but didn't really stay with me or call me back.

Fair And Cloudy dotdotdot
Easy Listening (Instrumental)

An easy jazz sound is the basis for "Fair And Cloudy." This Al Casey original is very easy going and pretty.

A Mellow Riff dotdotdot
Easy Listening (Instrumental)

"A Mellow Riff" reminds me a lot of the sixties soul grooves that surfaced as b-sides or instro singles on the R&B charts. Not particularly distinct, but very nicely done.

Remember The Minuet dotdotdot
Easy Listening (Instrumental)

Al Casey's "Remember The Minuet" is a very fluid and easy jazz number that floats on a summer's afternoon. Very pretty and lush.

Hokus Pokus dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Hokus Pokus" is a pretty straight forward rock instro with a rich guitar twang and cool beat. It runs at an easy gate, features saucy sax, and has adequate edge for rock'n'roll. It's a basic AABA number.

Melancholy Serenade dotdotdot
Easy Listening (Instrumental)

This standard is very gently played against and easy to take backtrack. Al's acoustic playing is superb here. Even if you detest acoustic guitar, you can't ignore the performance caliber.

September Song dotdotdotdot
Slow Sinewy Rock (Instrumental)

Verging on Santo and Johnny territory, this rendering of the Maxwell Anderson - Kurt Weill classic "September Song" simply drips romance. Al's lap steel is so liquid it almost pours off the CD. Very pretty!

T.O.M. (The Old Man) dotdotdot
Easy Listening (Instrumental)

"T.O.M. (The Old Man)" is an Al Casey - Lee Hazelwood composition that's very sultry.

Stingereee dotdotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

This is a cool number with a bit of grit and wonderful whammy chords. Great guitar tone and a surfable edge, and significant coastal appeal. Only the beat and organ separate "Stingereee" from the surf envelope. A tasteful sax break rounds out the track. Great stuff.

Nauges dotdotdot
Easy Listening (Instrumental)

Django Reinhardt's classy number rolls off Al Casey's guitar as if it was born there. Just really nice!

Uptown Blues dotdotdot
Easy Listening (Instrumental)

This is a very pleasant guitar boogie shuffle with lush tone and an easy gate. While it's not particularly remarkable, it's very easy to groove to.

Ziggie's Blues dotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

Nasty after dark blues with sax and guitar hard panned. Much more a jam than a song, and slow moving. Soulful and relaxed.

In The Garden dotdotdot
Easy Listening (Instrumental)

The operative word here is lush. The tack is produced almost as if you're eaves dropping on the performance. Rich, yet a bit distant. Very pretty too!

Amazing Grace dotdotdot
Country (Instrumental)

Al Casey's sultry tremolo sound is employed perfectly in this gorgeous rendering of "Amazing Grace." The easy country flow really makes this shine.

Thunder Cloud
Surfadelic (Instrumental)

"Thunder Cloud" is a vibrato drenched unreleased Al Casey track that is essentially "Thunder Beach" in a less dripping sound, though it's no less surfable. Slow and moody, with an ominous and stormy edge. Co-written by Jody Reynolds, it has the tremolo thunder of The Storms singles. This take is sifted through heavy phasing, giving it a psychedelic swirl.

Swamp Water dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Swamp Water" is a very vintage surf track from the early sixties, probably 1963. Not at all as heavy as the Surfin' Hootenanny sessions, but very cool, and augmented by nasty sax. The song was co-written by Jody Reynolds.

Allen Case dotdotdot
Easy Listening (Instrumental)

This is a cheesy organ number with an OK melody and somewhat Memphis jam feeling and sound.

Drivin' dotdotdot
Easy Listening (Instrumental)

This is an otherwise unreleased track from Storms, who were Jody Reynolds band featuring The Storms. It' a basic, yet very satisfying AABA progression style number with great tone and sax squirts.

Jezebel dotdotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

This previously unreleased vibrato charmer from Al Casey is a beautiful track with a very soothing melody that sports just enough edge. Al is not in his ultra reverb zone, but is continuing with the classic twang he developed with Jody Reynolds and Duane Eddy, though it's less "Rebel Rouser"-southern rockish. A fine track.

Caterpillar Crawl dotdotdotdotdot
Easy Listening (Instrumental)

Another unreleased Storms track, "Caterpillar Crawl" was originally from the Strangers on Titan FF-1701 in 1959. This is more gutty and powerful than the single, and sports great sax snarl along with Casey's guitar and stinging whammy. Superb!