Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Champs - The EP Collection... Plusdotdotdot
artworkAmong the musicians involved with the Champs over the years, either in studio or on the road, were founders Dave Burgess and Danny Flores a.k.a. Chuck Rio, Dashiel Corfts and Jimmy Seals (Seals and Crofts), Dean Beard (ZZ Top), and Glen Campbell.
Picks: Tequila, Chariot Rock, El Rancho Rock, Midnighter, Rockin' Mary, Turnpike, Beatnik, Gone Train, Sky High, Robot Walk, Caramba, Moonlight Bay, Double Eagle Rock, Night Train, The Rattler, Train To Nowhere, Tequila Twist, La Cucaracha, Experiment In Terror, Limbo Rock, I'll Be There, Lollipop, Just Walkin' In The Rain, Too Much Tequila, 20,000 Leagues, Little Matador, Alley Cat, Kahlua Kahlua, TNT, Percolator, Wing Ding, Go Champs, What's Up Buttercup, Night Beat

Track by Track Review

Tequila dotdotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

This is their BIG HIT!. It is a sax based number that was probably the frat house standard, long before "Louie Louie" was. The spoken "Tequila" at the end of the lines has become a standard of Latin party rock. Very infectious.

Chariot Rock dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Saucy sax, choked guitar, nifty percussion, and a melody line that speaks in whispers of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" while sportin' fifties jammin' rock sensibilities. There are several musical reference to "Tequila."

El Rancho Rock dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

"El Rancho Grande" saxed up like "Tequila" with lotsa fun damped guitar rhythm work, and a honkin' good sax performance.

Midnighter dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Raw sax R&B based rock, pumpin' a party jam, drivin' the poodle dress crowd nuts. Fine jammin' dance tune from Champs.

Rockin' Mary dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Mary Had A Little Lamb chumped into the Champs camp... it's cuter than you think. Hand claps and plinky piano. They even sing the "Mary had a crazy lamb" chorus. Yikes!

Turnpike dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Dave Burgess' suave little number grooves very slowly, with great drums from Gene Alden (credited to Dashiel Crofts). The chords are unusual for rock 'n' roll of the day, and the production crisp and real. Not melodic, but quite catchy nonetheless.

Beatnik dotdotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Echoed guitar delicato and saucy sax make nice together over a catchy rhythm track. Raw, sensual, and very cool.

Gone Train dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

The Champs' took the classic fifties train theme and jammed on it. A catchy riff and plinky piano, plus great drums and a male chorus singin' "ooh..." here and there. This is not really far from the Monarchs' "Friday Night."

Sky High dotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Bouncy post "Tequila" variation on the traditional Mexican tune "Little Linda." It's fun, but doesn't exactly capture the soul.

Robot Walk dotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Chumpy dismissible studio nonsense.

Caramba dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

This song features a coy little hook and a catchy Latin beat. Pure Mexican party fun, with roots in mariachi. Great drums as usual.

Moonlight Bay dot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

This is scary... it's very close to the MOR hit, sports bad chorus "wha-wha's" and an indiscreet fifties beat.

Double Eagle Rock dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Fast and fun, "Double Eagle Rock" sports charges this Dave Burgess tune. It's more energy than substance, and it's a lot like a sped up "Moonlight Bay" with extra cool bridges and hand claps.

Night Train dotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

James Brown's monster becomes a tribal strip joint runway romp. The worst part is the model train whistle. Very fifties.

The Rattler dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Soft peddled Mexican rock, with acoustic guitar and great drums. It's better than that sounds, but still not what you'd call great. Sax and cool piano.

Train To Nowhere dot
Rock (Instrumental)

Plinky piano groovin' with fifties "wooooo-wop-wop" chorus. It's fun enough, but not particularly interesting. No melody, just a riff.

Tequila Twist dotdotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Yet another rearranging of their hit. It's almost as if a big band would do it, with the exception of Chuck Rio's wailing sax work. Infectious, yet not enduring.

La Cucaracha dotdotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Cool Latin percussion and the Champs formula hand claps and sax squonks turn this classic Mexican folk song into a party platter. Lots of coolness.

Experiment In Terror dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Henry Mancini's masterpiece gets the mean edge from the Champs. Very suave for sure!

Limbo Rock dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Billy Strange's "Second Line Limbo" is one infectious tune. It is incarnated via the Latin frill of the Champs for this entirely infectious 1962 hit. Except for the "la la la" chorus, this is delightful.

I'll Be There dot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Soft sax sock hop swill, with a bit of a rasp and edge, as if the band wants to rock, but is held back.

Lollipop dot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

What female singer hit with this? Was it Anita Bryant? It was someone of that ilk. Anyway, this is almost as credible...

Just Walkin' In The Rain dot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

A slow saxy wander through the fields of classic popular music. Very fifties sounding.

Too Much Tequila dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

This is one of several follow ups to their "Tequila." It is a sax based number, slower than it's inspiration, and with more of an "El Rancho Grande" sound to it. The guitar break is acoustic and quite nice.

20,000 Leagues dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Challenge single 59049 featured this low down surf sound with the sad and ominous sax wailing in the background. The guitar shines with vibrato. A simple and pleasurable song.

Little Matador dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

The Mexican sound of the Champs suavely permeates this cool track. It sneaks right into your subconscious. The narrated matador stuff is kinda funny. A catchy little single.

Alley Cat dot
Latin R&B Rock (Vocal)

This is alley cat in the fifties sense, and it's a vocal of strange proportions.

Kahlua Kahlua dotdotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Very much in the "Too Much Tequila" vein, "Kahlua Kahlua" is a way fun jaunty little number with lots of Latin soul and saxy groove. Infectious to the max.

TNT dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

This is a bumpy sax honker with Latin rhythms and a catchy riff. A little on the contrived side, but not out of line.

Percolator dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Fifties sax and piano rock of no real consequence. Not melody, but sporting a little of that Champs edge. This is not the Billy Joe and the Checkmates tune.

Wing Ding dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Sax and roll of the late fifties variety, set apart only by the great drums.

Go Champs dotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

The riff here is the source of the "Church Key" riff. Piano rollin' and pumpin' bass. The go champs go chorus is at best annoying. The track without it is OK.

What's Up Buttercup dotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Squonky sax in a fifties vein. Not very interesting, and punctuated by a falsetto "what's up buttercup." Dismissible.

Night Beat dotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Cool for cats cymbals and a fifties beat-gen groove. The piano is the high spot.