Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: The Dog's Bollocks of American R&R Instrumentals Volume 1 - Lift Off!dotdotdot
artworkThis is the first volume of a CD-R comp from vinyl sources of mostly obscure American instros, much of which is surf. It's the first comp in quite a while full of mostly previously uncomp'd material, and as such is a welcome release. Cool tracks ranging from a very rare Johnny Fortune instro to the infectious Royal Coachmen's "Loophole." Collectors of the sound will find this rewarding.
Picks: Night Creature, Straight Flush, Countdown, Chariot, Sabre Dance, Relay - Son Of Telstar, War Party, Fat Man's Walk, Good Luck Charlie, Bacardi, Caledonia, Punctuation, Fly, Loophole, Surf Fever, Lift Off, Skokkian, It Ain't Necessarily So, Treat Her Right, Russian Roulette, Diamond Back, Holiday On Saturn, In The Beginning, Panther Pounce, Gambler's Guitar, Saw Mill Run, Bucket Seats, Free Fall, Upturn, Moon Race, Midnight Ride

Track by Track Review

Night Creature dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A 1960 A-side in the Duane Eddy mold, right down to the rebel shouts and sax, though it's not Duane's tone. The lead sounds like it's half way between Eddy and surf. High energy spunky fun.

Straight Flush dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Raw rockin' sax over guitars, with an infectious rhythm and beat. The sax lines are smooth and mean but not overbearing, and it lays against the choppy backtrack to create a solid contrast. The guitar leads in the break are very nice indeed. From 1959.

Countdown dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very infectious surf tune with a rolling rhythm and lots of reverb. Its melody line is a little unusual, and the band is playing it tuff. Very cool track!

Chariot dotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

Grodie and trashy, with a Euro-style guitar melody and a romping rhythm. The tone places it in the early sixties, and just outside surf city. Pretty cool track.

Sabre Dance dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Damped dry guitar chops play havoc on this infamous Aram Ilich Khachaturian piece. There's no real power, but there is a very odd mix of picked bass and understated guitar distortion with room reverb. Subdued, yet kinda cool.

Relay - Son Of Telstar dotdotdot
Space (Instrumental)

This sure does sound like a British track, though there's not enough compression. As the title suggests, "Relay - Son Of Telstar" leans on the Tornados' "Telstar" for influence, though it;'s stylistically more in line with some of their slower tunes.

War Party dotdotdot
Fifties Indian Rock (Instrumental)

This is a better than average fifties Indian theme instro. It uses a simple almost linear melody, is edgie like many upper Midwest instros were, and sports a good bit of energy. While pretty raw, it's also quite listenable.

Fat Man's Walk dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

A walking bass line under a "Bulldog" kinda riff with infectious chops and soft appeal, "Fat Man's Walk" is really quite nice. The dribbling double picking in the break leaves it on the bluff overlooking the surf.

Good Luck Charlie dotdotdot
Piano (Instrumental)

This is a piano instro with tuff drums and lots of jammin' plinkery. Fun, but unremarkable.

Bacardi dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Bacardi" may be dedicated to the clear fuel, but the song is a very nice surf instro in a delicate rhythmic and soft setting. Infectious like a minor "Tequila," it sports lots of reverb and coolness.

Caledonia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Great rolling drums support this sax honker as it romps over the top of a surf guitar line. It's a pretty unusual track, with miles of smiles.

Punctuation dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is the band that brought us the often comp'd "Scorpion." This is not up to that standard, but it's fine nonetheless. A catchy riff, rhythmic drums, damped reverbed guitar, and saucy sax.

Fly dotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

Rhythmic and stompy, this is a damped chord fest of swimming whammy and sub-surfisms. Primitive and full of innocent abandon.

Loophole dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This exceptionally infectious surf track is way happy, and just shines with shallow string bending and slight reverb. This has appeared on several comps over the past few years. Mighty fine listening. The original release was on Challenge in 1964.

Surf Fever dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Shattoes recorded this spunky surf monster in '65. "Surf Fever" is a fast, hot instro, based on a riff/progression that is sure to please.

Lift Off dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Damped thrashy pre-surf with dry guitars and an infectious rhythm, but a marginal riff. The coolest part is the damped reverbed guitar solos on the low-E. Grodie and cool.

Skokkian dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This standard was probably lifted from Sandy Nelson, though it goes way back before him. It's arranged like "Walk Don't Run" to great affect. Saucy and cool, with a derivative but catchy sound.

It Ain't Necessarily So dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Swimming Jazzmaster surf with very smooth dribbling playing and warn tone. This is clearly Johnny Sudetta, but I don't know where it's from. It wasn't on the album.

Treat Her Right dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Competent backtrack to the Roy Head song, with adequate guitar lead playing the melody with no real fire. It's pleasant, but not remarkable.

Russian Roulette dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the "hit" version, and was a single by the Teen-Beats originally recorded under the title "Surf Bound." This early version is more primal, and way better than any vinyl issue for clarity and purity. Great.

Diamond Back dotdot
Country (Instrumental)

Finger style noodling in a country setting with rock intentions. Not melodic, just rhythmic and jammy.

Holiday On Saturn dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Echoed pickslides create ghostly sounds, surf guitar spookily plucks out an unusual tune. Not structured at all like a surf tune, yet with tuff surf guitar tone playing like a mandolin. Pretty interesting.

In The Beginning dotdotdot
Shadows (Instrumental)

Soft silky guitar over exotic percussion and moody sub-tiki scenery. Close to MOR, yet within the rock window in an almost Shadows vein.

Panther Pounce dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Rare Jim Messina and the Jesters, which sounds like it's really "Strange Man." Raw sound, but a kinda "Out Of Limits" riff and raw energy keeps it afloat.

Gambler's Guitar dotdotdot
Country (Instrumental)

This infectious walking country instro is bouncy and fun, with a train time feel. The shimmer of the lead guitar is rich and cowboy cool.

Saw Mill Run dotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

Rhythm and chord dominated, "Saw Mill Run" is more back room rhythm jam than song. No real melody, just grinding rhythms. The Marlins also cut "Let Down" and "Tarantula Pt 2."

Bucket Seats dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It's hard to imagine listening to this, but Jan Berry produced it. I often wondered if Jan and Dean's "B-Gas Rickshaw" was an anomaly, or a glint of actual interest in real surf. I think this track answers the question. This is a very nice track, catchy, well produced, and infectious. It's on the lighter side, as with most studio concoctions, but it still a great track.

Free Fall dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Devons were another studio persona of Richie Podolor. This is a classic track, better than the demo version which appeared on the Super Stocks CD. Melodic, sad, and very well written. I just love Podolor's guitar tone, generally obtained by plugging directly into the board instead of using an amp. and sending through an acoustic chamber. Richard Podolor wrote it, but is not on the session. Jerry LeMire - lead guitar, Bill Cooper - rhythm guitar, Dick Burns - bass, Chuck Girard - keys, Wayne Edwards - drums.

Upturn dotdotdot
Fifties Rock (Instrumental)

"Shot Rod" is a chord rocker mostly. Manic drums, thumpin' bass, and speedy pickin' in a post guitar boogie format drive the demons from the hall. Nothing like a melody in sight, but lots of drive and thrashing angst.

Moon Race dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Moon Race" is very infectious, and sports great finger squeals on the guitar. It totally rocks and captures your surf imagination. Among the midwest obscuros, it's one of the essential tracks. A totally magical track. This stellar surf instro has amazingly good sound when you consider it was cut in an someone's attic.

Midnight Ride dotdotdot
Rockabilly (Instrumental)

This rhythm based rockabilly instro is typically B-side material. No real melody, just a riff and a rhythm, punctuated by a nasty sax.