Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Instrumental Nuggets Volume Twodotdotdot
artworkThis German compilation collects instrumentals from the charts in Europe. Many are common, but some are not. As with many instrumental comps of this sort, there are a number of MOR tracks mixed with rock. No surf here.
Picks: The Swinging Creeper, Red River Rock, Peter Gunn, Telstar, In The Hall Of The Mountain King, Nut Rocker, Red Cabbage, Das Totenschiff, Cry For A Shadow, Cast Your Fate To The Wind, The Avenger, Melissa, Happy Time, Man Of Action, Peaches En Regalia, Cobra, Black Bill, Guiding Light, Man In Black, Barber's Rock, Early Bird, William Tell Twist, And Then There Were Drums

Track by Track Review

The Swinging Creeper dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This thick fuzzy number is choppy and repetitious, interesting for the first few bars, but then not. It would be a good backtrack to a snotty vocal.

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).

Peter Gunn dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of those grand mysteries. The source is an acetate or test pressing with only the title, so the band remains unidentified. It's a fine track, like a much moodier "Out Of Limits" with a more dissonant and dangerous sound. Progression based, yet interesting and engaging.

Telstar dotdotdotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

This is it, the Tornados signature hit. Brilliantly filled with damped plucking, rhythmic churn, and whirring space. Joe Meek wrote this tune. It is utterly unique in the annals of rock. Meek was the UK master of thick completely filled sound, compressed until totally flat, and very cool. This 1962 release has been done by a bazillion surf bands. A must have for any serious instro fan. It is the Tornados signature tune.

In The Hall Of The Mountain King dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

With production that is almost as thick as Joe Meek's, this track is an archetypal sixties British guitar single (less the Shadows influence). This creates power via compression. Relatively straight cover for electric guitar.

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.

Red Cabbage dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This single has long languished in the Goodwill bins. Jim Messina has been quoted as disliking the work he died with the Jesters, but I find it fascinating. The meter is rough, but the energy is spectacular and the melodies are quite unusual. This is a solid surf number, middle eastern influenced, though the Spanish feel is actually more prominent. It may not be well recorded, but it is fresh and intense, and uniquely Jim Messina in structure and approach. It's nothing like his Buffalo Springfield or Loggins & Messina work. Rhythmic and double pick extra swell surfology. Gotta dig the man.

Ownership of these masters is currently in the courts following the death of the original owner. Given enough time for the lawyers to drain the royalties dry, they should eventually see the light of day from the original tapes, since they all still exist and Jim Messina is a recognized name and the Jesters are an often covered band these days. From 1964.

Das Totenschiff dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of the great bands was Manuel and the Renegades. They were a Mexican band from Southern California with an astoundingly mean surf-rod sound. Their most famous single was "Rev Up." This was a follow up single. As you can tell from the track, they had power and they screamed and pounded their way through songs. Very chunky and super cool. Manuel Rodriquez and his brother Jose were the guitar assault of the band.

Cry For A Shadow dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The only instro the Fab Four recorded was a Shadows tribute, and in their style. Its minimal melody line is enduring, with Los Straitjackets covering it today in their live sets. This recording is interesting more for its oddness in the annals of the Beatles than for its pure instro value. It is not a surf tune, but it is as close as these boys would ever get. Incidentally, this is the only writing collaboration between George Harrison and John Lennon, as well as the only instro they ever recorded.

Cast Your Fate To The Wind
MOR (Instrumental)

Vince Guaraldi's piano masterpiece is given the old folks treatment. While this version was a big hit, it just doesn't hold up to the original.

The Avenger dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Truants were a Redlands, California band. This single sports an intense throbbing vibratoed lead guitar playing a very slow and mean melody. This is like an evil version of the Viscounts without the sax. Dark, brooding, and down right cool.

Melissa dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Fullerton's Intrepids were quite obscure. This track is a splendid example of the power of simple riffs and reverb. It's infectious, rhythmic, and way fun. It's loaded with drama and danger, as well as surf majesty. The Surf Raiders covered this in the early eighties.

Happy Time dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track is quite an unusual track from the east coast. The lead guitar is a lap steel. The style is slightly surf, slightly bison bop, and mostly growlingly mean. It's infectious and very fun. It's not very "Chinese," but it is exotic.

Man Of Action dot
MOR (Instrumental)

Melodic sappy slushy MOR, non-offensive tripe for the octogenarians. This must have been a film score.

Peaches En Regalia dotdotdot
Jazz Rock (Instrumental)

Frank Zappa is not one of my faves, but this track has always been one I've enjoyed. Its weird arrangement and slightly schizoid personality and the melodic lilt adds a warmth to an otherwise big orchestral bit of writing. This was even issued as a CD3 in the eighties.

Cobra 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.

Black Bill dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

An Illinois label issued this. It has a much more surf sound than "Space Needle," so it is very likely not the same band at all. There are behind the bridge fills, tribal drums, eerie guitar leads, and a cool rhythmic second guitar. A fine track, exotic and most unusual.

Guiding Light dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This obscuro on a Riverside label is pure surf, in the garage vein. It's mean sax break hints of Steve Douglas. The guitars reverb away with deep spring action. Yikes! "Big Noise From Makaha" is a surfization of "Big Noise From Winnetka."

Man In Black dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a playful and highly rhythmic mid tempo number that brings a smile to the face. It shows off tight meter and synchronization. It makes you wanna move. The Surf Raiders covered this in the early eighties.

Barber's Rock dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" is presented with a post ELO arrangement. It's very fun for sure, and the guitar work reminds somewhat of Get Wet. Pretty cool.

Early Bird dotdotdot
Rock MOR (Instrumental)

"Early Bird" has the sound of Dave "Baby" Cortez all slowed down. It's a cool tune, and it has a soul rockin' kinda draw, but it doesn't really rock. Instead, it chunks and rolls.

William Tell Twist dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Fifties style riff rockin' low end chunkin'. The sax leads the way with spirit, but overall, the track doesn't really grab me.

And Then There Were Drums dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Studio drummer Sandy Nelson cut a long string of successful singles following his initial hit with "Teen Beat." Always drum centered, his rhythmic sessions captivated listeners and defined rock and roll drums until Ron Wilson and Hal Blaine came along. "And Then There Were Drums" is a grodie road runner of a track, with a nasty low-E guitar line that has always made me think of rolling down a rail line through a tribal outback. Excellent tribal drumming, of course. Incidentally, this single was cut after Sandy Nelson lost his foot in an auto accident. It didn't slow him down.