Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Glory Days of Rock 'n' Roll - Instrumentalsdotdotdot
artworkLots of cool instros on this CD, all vintage, and a few even surf.
Picks: Walk, Don't Run, Tall Cool One, El Rancho Rock, The Happy Organ, Wheels, Raunchy, Raw-Hide, Harlem Nocturne, Green Onions, Honky Tonk Part 2, (Ghost) Riders In The Sky, Teen Beat, Tuff, Wipe Out, Nut Rocker, Tequila, Guitar Boogie Shuffle, Smokie (Part 2), Bongo Rock, Wiggle Wobble, Red River Rock, Because They're Young, Sleep Walk, You Can't Sit Down (Part 1), Percolator, Memphis, Pipeline, Wild Weekend, I Got A Woman (part 1), Topsy II

Track by Track Review


Walk, Don't Run dotdotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is essential. The Ventures were one of the two bands that served as the model for early surf bands, the other being the Fireballs. This was their first single, and is an absolute standard. It was based on the early fifties Chet Atkins arrangement. This is their signature tune, a solid and enduring cover of Johnny Smith's jazz classic. Rhythmic, solid as a rock, and very warm with pre-surf whammy. Only the Pink Fairies' vocal version is better than this. Great classic pre surf.

"Walk, Don't Run" and "Perfidia" were recorded a year before there was such a thing as surf music. Totally vintage and majorly important to the birth of surf, this Ventures single is still their hallmark and best effort. Every collection requires this track.

Tall Cool One dotdotdotdot
Pacific Northwest Bachelor Pad Club Instro (Instrumental)

The Wailers issued this and had a national hit with it in '59. It's a great honky tonkin' piano and sax squankin' R&B track. Wonderful!

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.

The Happy Organ dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Churning organ runs, calliope sensibilities, and pure joy. This disc broke the organ out of it's paradigm as a jazz-soul instrument and brought it squarely into rock 'n' roll. This is an utterly infectious wailin' organ instro that just can't be held down. Pumpin' screamin', and drivin' hard on the wind. If there's a single instro that embodies the rock and roll spirit, "The Happy Organ" is it. The production makes the organ sound very loud. Still hot after all these years.

Wheels dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Ain't no surf here, and barely hot rod. It's melodic, fluid, and borders on MOR. "Wheels" is closer to the Norman Petty Trio than the Fireballs or Buddy Holly. It is a very pretty quasi rock piece with an infectious melody line and arrangement. It was a Billboard hit in 1960 on Warwick, the same label that brought us Johnny and the Hurricanes. It peaked at number 3. Not bad for a guitar instro. This is a Norman Petty composition.

Raunchy dotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

"Raunchy" was written by Bill Justis and his guitarist Sidney Manker. It was originally titled "Backwoods." Among the luminaries at the session was Billy 'Flying Saucers Rock And Roll' Riley. It's an often covered swingin' fifties instro.

Raw-Hide dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Who'da thunk it? Paul McCartney's "Cayenne" makes credible fodder for a pretty surf instro, melodic, sad, and haunting. Susan's arrangement is nicely balanced, and the tone is most pleasing.

Harlem Nocturne dotdotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

The Viscounts' spectacular 1959 hit was a cover of "Harlem Nocturne" was reissued again in 1960 and 1966 after selling out of the first pressing. It features the very intense and sultry sax of Harry Haller, which drives this track with the danger of a back alley. The throbbing vibrato guitar adds to the ominous sound. This is one magnificent track.

Green Onions dotdotdotdot
Memphis Soul (Instrumental)

Classic organ progression studio creation that stretched the patience without pane. It's not often you even notice there's so little that passes for a melody, not unlike the infinite listenings afforded Bo Diddley even though he usually only used one chord, and two notes on his guitar.

Honky Tonk Part 2 dotdotdotdot
Rock Groove (Instrumental)

Part two is a trip into the annex of the song, equally cool and infectious.

(Ghost) Riders In The Sky dotdotdotdot
Cowboy Twang (Instrumental)

Al Casey and Duane Eddy's twang opened new trails in rock 'n' roll. The Ramrods took the Stan Jones cowboy classic and breathed new life into it with the big guitar sound, and amped it to the max with the overdubbed hoots and cattle calls. This is the version all the surf bands heard and were inspired by.

Teen Beat dotdotdotdot
Drum (Instrumental)

Sandy Nelson's first single, from 1959, set the stage for many rock drum records to follow. Only Cozy Cole's "Topsy Part II" had charted before, and it was a big band monster. This is a simple drum pattern, guitar and bass thing that was both innocent and infectious in its day.

Tuff dotdotdot
Sax Rock (Instrumental)

Ace Cannon has made a lifetime career out of his handful of sax hits. "Tuff" is tough enough, but it's also pretty pedestrian.

Wipe Out dotdotdotdot
TV Surf (Instrumental)

"Wipe Out" is simply the definitive drummer's badge of courage. If he can do a decent "Wipe Out," he's hired. Simple, and written and recorded in just minutes, this is an international classic that has sold multimillions of copies, and still does every year worldwide.

Nut Rocker dotdotdotdot
Piano Rock (Instrumental)

"Nut Rocker" is on the "Nutcracker Suite," this rocks mightily in the Jerry Lee Lewis pumping piano vein, with incredible energy and a totally infectious sound.

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.

Guitar Boogie Shuffle dotdotdotdot
Rockabilly Boogie (Instrumental)

This was a monster hit for the Virtues in the fifties, and defined the already overcrowded rockabilly boogie field. The track has been stereo-ized, using a fake spread induced to create a rather effective illusion of a fairly modern and natural stereo. The performance is great. The guitarists are Frank Virtue and Jimmy Bruno.

Smokie (Part 2) dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The same progression, a little slower, and with the piano more prominent. This sort of thing musta really pleased studio musicians, because they cranked out so much of it.

Bongo Rock dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is a marvelous and fun classic rock 'n' roll single. The rhythm is totally infectious, and the simple melody line sticks in your memory cells despite any attempt to clear your head. This has almost nothing to do with surf music, though it was a staple among some of the bands. It predates the genre, and has no reverb at all. It is important for a couple of reasons. It was the first rock instro featuring the bongo drum as a central instrument, and it was the structure of this song that was one basis for the Surfaris' "Wipe Out."

Wiggle Wobble dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This very cool bouncy R&B tune was often covered by surf bands live. It was a hit for Les Cooper and the Soul Rockers on the old AM radio. Very infectious and rock solid.

Red River Rock dotdotdot
Sax & Organ Rock (Instrumental)

The first of what would become their formula, public domain standards ominously rocked out with organ dominated evil sax instrumentals with great Dave Yorko guitar breaks. "Red River Rock" never sounded so cool! It was instro covers of public domain standards that originally influenced Paul Johnson, who used "Little Brown Jug" among others in the Belairs sets (and on disc).

Because They're Young dotdotdot
Twang (Instrumental)

Another hit for the big guitar twangster. This one sports too many strings for my taste, but it is a splendid melody and was quite a hit. The liners say it "vaguely resembles the theme from Jeopardy." It was actually the theme from a 1960 film of the same name. Don Costa and friends wrote this pre-Al Caiola sounding film theme. Despite the syrupy strings, this has a magnetism that can suck you in. I can't say I've seen the film, but I can visualize this under the credits easily enough.

Sleep Walk dotdotdotdot
Lap Steel Pre Surf (Instrumental)

It doesn't get much more definitive than this. Sinewy slow dance classic, beautiful melody, covered endlessly and never as well. Simply a stunning song. Originally released in 1959, this is one of the great instro singles of the distant past, which featured, for the first time, the lap steel in a lead role (outside of country and Hawaiian). This slithery slowdance romancer was/is the prelude to a whole lotta whoopee. It is so very beautiful. Totally sweet guitar sounds.

You Can't Sit Down (Part 1) dotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

Phil Upchurch cut this bouncy instro with organ whirling and jammin' guitar somewhat in the Wailers' vein. Infectious despite it's jam progression nature.

Percolator dotdotdot
Pop Rock (Instrumental)

This gimmicky postsurf period instro was based on a Maxwell House Coffee TV ad running at the time. The lead simulates the gradual escalation of the coffee bubbling up into the glass dome in the top of the coffee pot. It was an instant success, and is still pretty darn fun. It's not surf, but it sure endures well.

Memphis dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Like the Surfaris' "Wipe Out," "Memphis" and "Wham!" were recorded to consume twenty minutes of leftover studio time. Both were solid hits in 1963. This is a highly rhythmic track, infectious and playful in a post Chuck Berry world.

Pipeline dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is it. This track defined surf. It is the archetype! Paul Johnson once told me that when first heard this tune on his car radio, he said Whoa! Wha-at is THAT?, and pulled over to the side of the road to listen. The Chantays defined the classic surf line up, 2 guitars, piano, bass, and drums. Glorious first use of glissandoes, first rhythm guitar dominance in the mix, and just plain essential.

Wild Weekend dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is the one. This is the song everyone thinks of with this band. It was cut originally as a theme for the Tom Shannon Show on Buffalo, New York's legendary WKBW, from whence came free form progenitors Tom Donahue, Bob Mitchell, and Peter Trip. This is growly, dark, evil, chunky, melodic, and features near-surf rhythm guitar behind a raw R&B sax. A great and necessary track.

I Got A Woman (part 1) dotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

Keyboardist Jimmy McGriff cut this instro version of Ray Charles' hit. While fun and groovy, it's also quite forgettable.

Topsy II dotdotdotdotdot
Drum (Instrumental)

The title is in reference to Uncle Tom's Cabin. There just aren't many better drum solo tracks than this 1958 single. The basic track is a very powerful big band thing, like "Sing Sing Sing" in terms of it's infectious melody and power. Cozy Cole's drums are incredibly great, incorporating light work, tribal beats, and big band power snare work. This is a singular track of unparalleled energy and soul.