Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: The Dog's Bollocks Of U.S.A. Rock 'n' Roll Instrumentals Vol. 8dotdotdot
artworkLots of cool stuff here, though few essentials. This series is in total a grand walk through the garden of real rock instros with plenty of surf spicing the mix.
Picks: Frankie Baldo and the Noveltones - Strange Guitar, Eddy and the Upsets - El Mitote, The Fantastics - Dance For An Unnamed Gypsy Queen, Bobby Gibson and the Voyagers - Samoa, B52, Ginny And The Gallions - Hava Nagila, Lloyd Green - Panic (A Trip), Norb Kamin - Pick And Shuffle, The Losers featuring The Volcanes - Snake Eyes, The Quarter Notes - Oriental Rock, The Runabouts - Surfer's Fright, The Shan-Tones - Sheba, The Bill Smith Combo - Tough, Tony Sperry and the Quarter Notes - The Shock, The Swanks - Ghost Train, The Teentones - Sands Of Arabia, The Teen Tones - The Rockin' Rumble, Latino - Part II, The Thundermen - Night Train, The Titans - The Noplace Special, Reveille Rock, The Triumphs - Credit Card, The Truants - The Truant, Willie Tremain's Thunderbirds - Midnight Express, The Woodchucks - Bo-Dacious

Track by Track Review


Frankie Baldo and the Noveltones - Strange Guitar dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Hand claps and drums, with a catchy and fun riff. "Strange Guitar" is a nice rock instro with modulated guitar. Perhaps from 1961, it sounds like it could have been from the Chess/Checker vaults, has they recorded much white rock.

Carl and the Commanders - You Can't Sit Down dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a ho-hum cover of The Dartells' "You Can't Sit Down." It sounds like it's right off the Vegas Strip. Easy to forget, despite it's raucous immediate sound and energy.

Eddy and the Upsets - El Mitote dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Mexican polka rock from what sounds like the late fifties. Backed by "La Vieja Seca" on La Bamba ARA-42973 , "El Mitote" is all party and fun, and no pretense. Not as cool as tequila, but certainly right there with some of The Champs work. Way cool.

The Fantastics - Dance For An Unnamed Gypsy Queen dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dry double picked guitar plays a gypsy theme, sounding like the band was from the upper midwest - The Titans come to mind. This is a superb instro with serious spunk and charm. The beat is more traditional gypsy, but "Dance For An Unnamed Gypsy Queen" really works well. Great track!

Bobby Gibson and the Voyagers - Samoa dotdotdotdot
Presurf (Instrumental)

Richard Podolor's presurf classic "Samoa" is very nicely done. For 1959, this is really closely suggestive of surf. Heavy tremolo and strong low down tone. I like this a lot!

Bobby Gibson and the Voyagers - B52 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The b-side of "Samoa" is much more typical of the release date - 1959. Whammy chords, tremolo tremble, and a basic progression. It is charming in a gutty, primitive way.

Ginny And The Gallions - Hava Nagila dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very intriguing rarity in murky mono. Great guitar whackery, distant screams, and haunted echoed guitar. This is so demented that it's hard to imagine that it's not from the psychedelic era. Very cool!

Lloyd Green - Panic (A Trip) dotdotdot
Post Surf (Instrumental)

It's 1967, the surf lies tucked away in the basement, and the psychedelic haze is dawning. Plodding, post surf, pre psych, loud, jammy, and yet, compelling. The melody is loosely based on Gershwin's "Summertime." The backwards section at the end is pretty trippy. Probably a studio creation.

Norb Kamin - The Night Rider dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Norb Kamin is a minor legend because of his big guitar sound. "The Night Rider" is a jam... a circular progression at a slow pace. Nothing special.

Norb Kamin - Pick And Shuffle dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Pick And Shuffle" is a faster guitar boogie shuffle kind of song, but with bigger guitar. Spunky and loud, and really well played.

The Losers featuring The Volcanes - Snake Eyes dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A minor single using a riff in a basic surf format, with dice players yakking all along and uttering "snake eyes" as they hope against hope for a winning roll of the dice. This track is vintage progression surf, with damped high note playfulness, and the sounds of gambling addicts. It's fun and infectious, and has a full throated surf guitar sound, though completely free of double picking. There were two versions of this single issued, one with gambling overdubs, and one with surf overdubs and more dominant surf guitar. This is a different recording.

The Quarter Notes - Oriental Rock dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a really cool instro, with great echo guitar that approaches the surf idiom, and a classy rhythm pattern. Its title implies an Asian theme, and "Oriental Rock" is certainly based on that sound, thought it's also very Midwest sounding. Indeed, the original issue was from Hammond, Indiana.

The Runabouts - Surfer's Fright dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Minimal surf riffage with some very cool drums work. 1965 tone and, while rooted in surf, it's drying out. A few double picked lines connect the dots. Borders on cool.

The Shan-Tones - Sheba dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a raucous version of Johnny and the Hurricanes' incredible "Sheba" with surf tone and great surf whammy chords. Intense at times, and dominated by the beat and the whammy chords. The drums rock!

The Shan-Tones - Shortnin' Bread dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The b-side of "Sheba" is a pumping organ-sax-guitar instro that's all energy. It's certainly one of the most unusual versions of James Whitcomb Riley's tune I've heard. Imagine a circus...

The Showmen - Ghost Train dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Unrelated to any of the songs titled "Ghost Train," this is also heavily dependent on its jam structure. Whammy and near surf tone squarely place it in the surf period, and its 1965 release date is another connection. Kinda cool, even interesting once or twice, just not at all essential.

The Sirs - Wow dotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

"Wow" is not particularly... long sax notes and jam guitar lines against piano, bass, and drums. It's hard listening to this to imagine it's actually from 1964. The guitar almost reaches surfability, but this is nothing more than an R&B jam.

The Bill Smith Combo - Tough dotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

"Tough" is a piano and sax honker influenced by Bill Black's style, but amped with Eddie Wayne Hill's stinging echoed guitar. It's a combination of pedestrian R&B and very cool.

Tony Sperry and the Quarter Notes - The Shock dotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

Big guitar chords crash and strut through the acoustic chamber reverb while two note progressions wander along. "The Shock" hints of surf a little, but just dances around the edges.

The Swanks - Ghost Train dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of the more often comp'd instros from the fifties. It is a fast and infectious train tune, with a big reverby lead guitar and lots of subtle whammy. The double picked guitar work is very "swank," and the the contrast between the surf guitar's optimism and the minor key danger of the rhythm guitar and bass is quite effective. Fine track.

The Teentones - Sands Of Arabia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Really thin guitar and distant tribal drums deliver a mysterious Arabian theme that's just waiting for some enterprising surfband to cover it. Great drums and hand claps, along with bongos, really make this shine. In some ways, it reminds me of Johnny and the Hurricanes' "Sheba."

The Teen Tones - The Rockin' Rumble dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"The Rockin' Rumble" is a gutty, simple, small town jam. Its knife edge and grit tell the tale. Nothing original in the writing, but a classic example of small label ballsy rock.

The Teen Tones - Latino - Part II dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The b-side of "The Rockin' Rumble" is just as jammy, but has much cooler bass and drums. Gritty and beat dominated, with angular guitar distortion.

The Thundermen - Night Train dotdotdot
Presurf (Instrumental)

Echoed snare drum and a fun cycling guitar plays a presurf adaptation of the rock classic instro "Night Train." It's the production as much as the tone that suggests the surf to come. Quite nice.

The Noplace Special dotdotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The band's new lead guitarist Rick Colborn flies about the guitar at breakneck speed with incredible accuracy. This tune is pure surf except for the lack of reverb. Stellar, infectious, and entirely cool.

The Titans - Reveille Rock dotdotdotdot
Dry Midwest Surf (Instrumental)

The Titans were a Midwest instro band, with a pretty dry sound. Not a surf band, but this is so cool, it doesn't matter. Only the reverb is missing to make it surf. Unlike Johnny and the Hurricanes, this is sans organ and shreds even harder!

The Triumphs - Credit Card dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Twangin' rock with nice long chords and a circular riff. "Credit Card" is not particularly melodic, but there's something here that calls to you anyway. It sounds like it's much earlier than 1963.

The Truants - The Truant dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of the often mentioned obscuros. This progression based ripper features blinding pick action. It sports a major helping of high energy machine gun delivery. "The Truant" has been covered a number of times. The whammy dip chords are really cool!

Willie Tremain's Thunderbirds - Midnight Express dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Midnight Express" has been booted a few times. It's a tape echo guitar romp that's just too fun. Very primitive, but with great fire and flair.

The Woodchucks - Bo-Dacious dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Near surf tone in an early Southern rock format, with cool bass glissandos, British R&B harmonica, and rich chords. Backwoods surf heading for the invasion.