Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Leapin' Guitarsdotdotdot
artworkThis fine release is taken from the vaults of the Lester Sill-Lee Hazelwood and George Goldner sessions, where the likes of Al Casey, Duane Eddy and a legion of sound-alikes flourished. Mostly a really good package musically, with some fine rarities and some classic tracks too, plus an exceptionally good set of liner notes.
Picks: Ramrod, The Chase, Woo Hoo, War Paint, El Rancho Grande, Poor Boy, Cha-Hua-Hua, Salty, LeapinŐ Guitars, Bikini, Pagan, Mona My Love, Sassy, Riviera, Hi Lilly Hi Lo, Down Yonder Rock, Offbeat, Wail, Sincerely, Beer Barrel Rock, See-Saw, Tara's Theme, Little Bo, Oh, My Nerves, Boogie Rock And Roll, Twangy, Poppa's Movin' On

Track by Track Review

Ramrod dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Now here's a track with a story. Recorded in Phoenix in 1957 as part of Lee Hazelwood's speculative demos from which also eventually emerged Duane Eddy, this track was cut by Al Casey playing Duane Eddy's Les Paul under Hazelwood's eye. It was issued on the Ford label under the name Duane Eddy and his Rockabillies (Duane played second guitar to Al Casey's lead) because Casey was under contract to Dot at the time. A mighty small local pressing went nowhere. In '58, when Duane Eddy's "Rebel Rouser" was on the charts, his band played on American Bandstand, playing one of the few live (not lip-synched) performances in that show's history, and were asked to do another tune. They decided to do "Ramrod" because they all knew it so well. The next day, Jamie Records was besieged with orders for the new Duane Eddy record, which did not exist. Hazelwood took this track, changed the pitch slightly, added Plas Johnson's sax overdub as well as yells, and viola! In the mean time, Cindy Records (C-3010) entrepreneur George Goldner, who had a copy of the original from one of many deals with the Sill-Hazelwood production team, issued this version on his label. He couldn't use either Eddy's or Casey's name, so he issued as Frantic Johnny Rogers.

So, that makes this the original raw session demo from which legends are made. It's a classic rockin' riff rockin' monster, often covered, but seldom equaled, and without the overdubs and at the right speed, it's just that much better. very nice to see this make it to CD.

The Chase dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Wild Bill (Emerson) was a power chord guitarist with a semi-Duane Eddy sound. He was under the wing of George Goldner. Just one single was issued, but it's got a raw big guitar sound, and a typically Duane Eddy backtrack less the chorus, yells, and sax. Quite a nice release, displaying excellent guitar work, with more string bending than was common at the time.

Woo Hoo dotdotdotdot
Rockabilly (Instrumental)

It's had to call this an instro because of the relentless vocal chorus that sings "Woo Hoo" repeatedly. The raucous performance is accentuated with a spirited drum break and lots of fun. Melodic and infectious, it's long been a classic fave of mine. The Rock-A-Teens were from Richmond, Virginia. Incidentally, this was originally called "Rock-A-Teen Boogie."

War Paint dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This amazing guitar-sax instro with huge tribal drums and an infectious beat was cut in 1961. It sounds nothing like the Bill Haley and his Comets of the "Rock Around The Clock" era. Really cool, this was the A-side to "Riviera." Hot chompin' stuff.

El Rancho Grande dotdotdot
Twang (Instrumental)

This is essentially a demo for Duane's last album for Colpix, but it was not to be included. Even during the vault purges for box sets, it was overlook, lying MIA in the vaults. It's not much like the classic Duane Eddy sound, with a Tijuana Brass style mariachi overdub and a guitar tone a little more on the edge. Rousing and well balanced.

Poor Boy dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Upper Midwest instro rockers the Royaltones recorded many a fine track. 1958's "Poor Boy" is their most familiar track because it was a hit for them. It is pretty tame as their tracks went, with damped echoed guitar, piano, and cryin' sax, all flowing out a weeping melody. Today, they are more revered for the surf rage "Black Lightning" and the incredible "Flamingo Express," the song that the Sentinals' "The Sentinal" is based on.

Cha-Hua-Hua dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Weird female wailing along with a hokey studio jam kinda backtrack with an almost Chuck Rio sax. Like Perez Prado, Herb Alpert and Percy Faith gene spliced. very weird.

Salty dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Don Cole (Phoenix session player) plays the lead on this track. Tony Castle was the vocalist. This is also the band that hit with "(Ghost) Riders In The Sky" as the Ramrods. This rare track is more like Duane Eddy than that, but still has a lot of Lee Hazelwood formula charm and spunk. Melodic and fluid.

LeapinŐ Guitars dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Mineral Wells, Texas was home to the Chapparals. Guitarist Charles O'Bannon and drummer Clay Grover wrote the tune. Country giant Ronnie Milsap was their lead player when this was cut. Rippin' country rockin' twang, with a melodic riff. Quite fun.

Bikini dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A cross between Tequila and "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini," this is pure pop hokum. Fun, but of no consequence.

Pagan dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a slushy vibrato laden track with a doo-woppin' chorus. If not for the shimmer of the lead, it would be merely a soft rock precursor. It has a sorta friendliness about it that keeps it from getting dusty, like maybe the Cadillac Angels should cover it or something. melodic and fluid, and almost campy.

Mona My Love dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Tribal drums and a sorta Bo Diddley feel, the guitar throbs with vibrato and cool jive. The tom toms pound, the strings shudder, and the mystic rites of the beach are not far off. Minimal, but really cool.

Sassy dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Utterly strange, rockabilly twang, hand clappin' pop, doo wop vocal chorus, and a sense that they were just playing with us. A jam made into a real treat by the sheer weight of the unique creativity, like the Diamonds' "Little Darlin'." Way fun.

Riviera dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Much in the Champs mold, this Latin flavored tune shows an ever changing Bill Haley and the Comets up to new sounds and directions. A very cool track, fluid, saucy, playful, and perfect for Playa Del Brewski.

Hi Lilly Hi Lo dotdotdot
Rock MOR (Instrumental)

Super soft rock a la Duane Eddy. Not very interesting, yet quite familiar. A good melody, just too derivative of a sound.

Down Yonder Rock dot
Blues Mambo (Instrumental)

Buddy Lucas leads the house band through a blues jam treatment of Perez Prado's "Mambo No. 5." Not particularly interesting.

Offbeat dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Very repetitious chords and a jammin' guitar duet with sax. It's playful and smoky, but hard to remember later.

Wail dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Lap steel whining, like a back room Santo and Johnny or toned down Juicy Lucy precursor. Rockin jivin' coolness. No melody, but dripping smoky bar room soul.

Sincerely dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Big guitar converts the classic into a throbbing twang fest. Quite formula, but really smooth and fun. It's got the Boots Randolph "Yakety Sax" and Duane Eddy merger down pat.

Beer Barrel Rock dotdotdot
Rock MOR (Instrumental)

The "Beer Barrel Polka" electrified with honky sax and a rockin' beat. More than MOR, but less than a real rocker. Power house drums, when you can here them, and a cool rockin' piano.

See-Saw dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This has uses the main melody riff from "Hippy Hippy Shake," but I suspect there's no connection on either end. The plucking is cool against the saxes, and the R&B nature of the structure is appealing.

Tara's Theme dotdotdot
Rock MOR (Instrumental)

Soft rock twango, with gentle vibrato for the end of the prom. The strings mush it out, while the guitar shimmers. melodic and smooth, just to mushy.

Little Bo dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Little Bo" is a big tom tom romp on the runway of life, with much more energy and sensuality than melody. An interesting little ditty.

Oh, My Nerves dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Raw sax rantings over a basic progression... a little discordant and not very interesting.

Boogie Rock And Roll dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Sock hop sound and great rockin' drums. Jammin' cats in jaguar jackets swaying left and right with their saxes. Not a melody in sight, but a ton of infectious fifties energy.

Twangy dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The tribal drums are cool, but the guitar is too weak for such a great title. A fifties guitar jam.

Poppa's Movin' On dotdotdot
Twang (Instrumental)

This is the B-side of the Colpix single that was the lone issue of "El Ranch Grande." It shimmers with guitar charm and vibrant throb. Very fine track seemingly based on Hank Snow's "I'm Movin' On."