Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: The History Of Rock Instrumentals Volume 2dotdotdotdot
artworkThis is volume two of a two volume series from Rhino, issued in 1987. It compiles many more of the significant chart instros of the late fifties and early sixties. The liner notes are good reading. No surf tunes are included, but the disc is an excellent listen, especially with the inclusion of two of my all-time favorite instros, Cozy Cole's "Topsy Part II" and the Viscounts' "Harlem Nocturne."
Picks: Tequila, Rebel-Rouser, Raunchy, Memphis, Rumble, Tall Cool One, Twine Time, Raw-Hide, Wham!, (Ghost) Riders In The Sky, Because They're Young, Beatnik Fly, Topsy II, Harlem Nocturne

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.

Rebel-Rouser dotdotdotdot
Twang (Instrumental)

"Rebel-Rouser" set the formula for Duane Eddy's enduring success. It is a rousing instro with whoops and hollers, and a richly infectious sound. The melody is strong, and the guitar is dead center.

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.

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.

Rumble dotdotdotdotdot
Classic Dark Rock (Instrumental)

The original street gang record. This drips juvenile delinquency and chains and knives and broken bottles. It's the first evil rock instro. Very powerful after 40 years! Link Wray is the originator of lead guitar instros, of the ominous guitar sound, of the use of extreme sustain for danger, of the tribal thunder and drama under rock instros, of the gradually changing effects to impose a rising threat, as he does by increasing vibrato at the end of the track. This is a must have for any self-respecting rock instro fan, and a definite requirement to understand the foundation that was laid for the later surf bands.

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!

Twine Time dotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

Occupying a space somewhere between the soul of James Brown and the Memphis pre-funk of Booker T. and the MG's, this single grooves and writhes. The "Twine" was a dance. The song was a hit.

Raw-Hide dotdotdotdot
Primal Rock (Instrumental)

What needs to be said about Link besides he's God! This is a pounding and demanding progression, racing for a fight, pummeling all who don't get out of the way. Rockin reeling intense. The man was a genius.

Wham! dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is one of the GREAT RI tracks out there, and it's taken its bloody time getting to CD. "Wham!" is just plain infectious. It's use of whammy, the early dominance of power chords, and the flights of joy in the performance are all top notch.

(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.

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.

Beatnik Fly dotdotdot
Organ Sax (Instrumental)

This is another track morphing a traditional song, as was the majority of the singles from this band. "Blue Tail Fly [Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care]" became "Beatnik Fly" over a cool backtrack and Dave Yorko's great guitar. The intro is so sad, then the Beat rhythm, breaks out and the cool jazz bass line, and then that whistlin' organ and mumblin' sax. It's way fun and melodic.

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.

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.