Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Champs - The Later Singlesdotdotdot
artworkThis is a great collection of tracks from one of instrumental rock's great originators. It's essentially part two in a series, with The Early Singles being part one. Lots of cool stuff here.
Picks: Tequila Twist, Limbo Rock, Experiment In Terror, La Cucaracha, Latin Limbo, That Did It, Mr. Cool, 3/4 Mash, Nik Nak, Shades, Roots, San Juan, Jalisco, Switzerland, Kahlua, Fraternity Waltz, The Man From Durango, Buckaroo

Track by Track Review

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Latin Limbo dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The title suggests Spanish sound, and it's here, along with the limbo beat and rhythm. "Latin Limbo" is a happy song with The Champs characteristic sax work. Great drums.

Varsity Rock dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Varsity Rock" is a saucy number with an easy beat and simple melody. It's a, long way from the most interesting thing The Champs ever did, though there are some cool raspy sax lines.

That Did It dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

Excellent percussion, damped guitar chops, plinky piano, and a minimal approach. It's a traditional tune made shiny new with a little inventive arranging. The percussion really makes this work. It's busy without being in the way, and stands out against the sparse lead and rhythm.

Mr. Cool dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Based on the TV commercial music, "Mr. Cool" is a happy party song that's very catchy. The chorus is sorta cheesy, but that doesn't stop you from liking this a lot. This is a very fun track that's exactly what The Champs were all about.

3/4 Mash dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"3/4 Mash" sports a very cool circling guitar and bass riff, with hand claps in sync with the drums. The saxes play a mournful simple line. This is a very simple number, but it's unusual nature really captivates.

Nik Nak dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a simple party version of the children's tale and song "Knick, Knack, Paddy Whack (This Old Man)," with a demented chorus. There's no doubt they were having fun on this one.

Shades dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Shades" features a pumping walking bass line, bluesy guitar, and saucy saxophone. It's very spirited, and the lads are shoutin' and carrying on. In some ways, it's similar to tracks from The Pastel Six.

Cactus Juice dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Cactus Juice" is a bit of a demented thing, with ghoulish voicings and a muddy band track. Structured much like other songs from this band, but perhaps less inspired.

Roots dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Roots" is a country track with a gingham guitar line and a sound similar to Duane Eddy in some ways. While the riffs are very simple, it's nonetheless a catchy number with a bit of spunk.

San Juan dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The sound may be dull here, but the arrangement is fun, and the occasional precision delicate glissandos make it a curiosity, along with the whistling and chorus. Acoustic Spanish guitar completes the picture.

Jalisco dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Jalisco" is s classic Mexican song, even done by Trini Lopez (I love his version). This is so much like the real thing that you can almost see the wide black sombreros with silver trim, the gaucho suits, and the wide grins. Very cool, if a little muddy.

Only The Young dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This was a common melody in their day, even done by The Bobby Fuller Four and Eddie and The Showmen. This is an easy gentle cover, with tasteful guitar and distant chorus.

Switzerland dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

With a Bo Diddley beat, The Champs rock out with this great track. The rhythm track borrows from "His Latest Flame," while the lead is a soulful sax jam. As simple and unassuming as this is, "Switzerland" also sports a couple of double picked guitar outbursts.

Kahlua dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Kahlua" is an earlier Champs song recycled, "Too Much Tequila" I think, with shouts of 'kahlua' over the top. Retro and very cool.

Fraternity Waltz dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Fraternity Waltz" is a slow number with very good acoustic guitar lead. It's stuff like this that shows off the artistry of the guitarists in this band. Really nice!

Bright Lights Big City dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A sudden turn into the blues nets a tight little cover of Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights Big City." Very tasteful, if a little uninspired.

French 75 dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"French 75" is a pretty poppy number, with most of the great Champs sound relegated to a softer underbelly. Superb delicate guitar lines abound, but the track is unimpressive in the end.

The Man From Durango dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This was one of my favorite Champs tracks as a kid. I think it was the B-side of "Too Much Tequila" or "Like Tequila." IN any event, it is a simple track, a double picked melody in places, and everywhere, a spaghetti western quality. Even the male chorus adds to the movie eeriness of it. A solid track!

Red Pepper dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Red Pepper" is a bit of a Mexican stomp, with a simple sax and guitar riff dominating. Definitely a b-side.

Anna dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This classic Mexican song is done with joy and a bit of flair. Its sax is party fun, and the track pumps with a grin. While definitely b-side material, it's pretty cool.

Buckaroo dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This might be the best cover of Buck Owens' best instro. Ringing guitar, punchy performance, and a crystalline arrangement. Rock solid, and quite magnetic.