Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Monster Instrosdotdotdot
artworkThis CD-R compilation was issued in April 2001. The monster theme ties together tracks spanning the late fifties to the late eighties and meandering through several genres. It's a from-vinyl collection which includes a number of had to come by tracks well worth a listen. The intro and outro are snippets from Boris Karloff, making it a perfect addition to the rotation at your next Halloween bash. The Frantics' "Night Of The Vampire," Bobby Rydell's "Ghost Surfin'," and Al Caiola's "The Eye In Flat Five" are right alongside John Zorn's "Dead Things Rising" and the Machines' "Robot Dance." All in all, a pretty fun collection, and despite the vinyl sources, the sound is relatively clean.
Picks: Night Of The Vampire, Werewolf, Clap Trap, Dinner With Drac, Eye Of Horus, Ghost Train, Phantom Freight, Experiment In Terror, Gargantua, There's Something At The Bottom Of The Well, The Ghoul Friend, The Dark Room, The Purple Monster, Haunted Pad, Ghost Surfin', Ghost Satellite, Quasimodo, Phantom Guitar, Echo Canyon, Ghost Train, Speed Fiend, The Phantoma, Fright, Transylvania, The Eye In Flat Five, Swinging Ghosts, Haunting, Spook Train, Robot Dance, The Madhouse, Scary Moonlight, Dead Things Rising

Track by Track Review

Night Of The Vampire dotdotdotdot
UK Near Horror (Instrumental)

This is one grodie scary Halloween tune from Joe Meek's Moontrekkers circa 1961. Intense, weird, and thumpy stompy. The guitar borders on surf in places where the reverb is used slightly and the notes damped. Truly inspired!

Werewolf dotdotdotdotdot
Pre Surf Lycanthropy (Instrumental)

This is the original, growling with lycanthropic evil and great guitar over tribal toms and a shimmering vibrato second guitar. This is a totally unique and magnificent track! The power of the writing and the highly effective simplicity of the arrangement is stunning. The Frantics' "Werewolf" holds up really well after more than 35 years.

Clap Trap dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This UK oddity is a little like Sandy Nelsons' "And Then There Were Drums." The riff is more repetitious, bailed out only by increasing saxology and drums. The drums solos in this 1959 single are not as inspired as Sandy's could be. Incidentally, the writer is John Blair, but you know it's not thee John Blair!

Dinner With Drac dot
Rock (Instrumental)

I'm sure there's a reason why this was cut, but it's not obvious. A jam with a bit more riffology than that might imply. Primitive and low powered, from 1958.

Eye Of Horus dotdotdotdot
Space Surf (Instrumental)

1968 weirdness with space noodling electronics and sub surf guitar. Not quite gimmicky, but also a little too effected to take seriously. Still, it's quite fun.

Ghost Train dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Unremarkable 1961 Brit pop guitar from one of the UK's institutions. There's big twang delivering a tweaky melody.

Phantom Freight dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Primitive tribal back room rock and ghoul from 1960. It sounds American, and the guitar is a noodling imaginative rage. jammy, but more than just that.

Experiment In Terror dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

He of the Magnificent Seven delivers a vibrato variation with Steve Douglas inspired sax from 1962. Pretty cool.

Gargantua dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A Mickey Baker tune, slurried out with a grodie fifties instro sound. Progression driven, and frat energized.

There's Something At The Bottom Of The Well
Nitzsche Rock (Instrumental)

Splash, water bubbling, tweaky keys, and a "Farmer In The Dell" riff with shouts and stuff. Just fluff.

The Ghoul Friend dotdotdot
UK Near Surf (Instrumental)

A fifties bass line and sound are augmented with a stinging guitar simulating horrific screen danger. With all the reverb on the ax, one might suspect that it was a surf guitar. "The Ghoul Friend" is a pretty unusual track, and well worth a spin or two.

The Dark Room dotdotdot
Halloween (Instrumental)

Horror soundtrack stuff for a goblin's holiday. Thunder claps and more, and really short at fifty seconds.

The Purple Monster dotdotdot
Halloween Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Vibrato and twang, spooky tones, distant danger, and an intriguing structure for 1959. Totally freaky. The guitar work is quite good, as is the obvious Link Wray influence.

Haunted Pad
Gimmicky Monster (Instrumental)

Cheesy organ yuk for a preteen trick or treat party. Just gimmicky.

Ghost Surfin' dotdotdot
Waterfront Near Surf (Instrumental)

This must have been a B-side to a Bobby Rydell single cut by the backup band. It sports sorta surfy guitar and sad sax over a slow walking waterfront beat. It's hard to imagine such a popster B-siding with this. Nice track.

Ghost Satellite dotdot
Gutty Big Band (Instrumental)

"Ghost Satellite" is an echoed gimmicky 1958 spooky tune. A walking jazz bass line and very low guitar or lead six string bass. Odd more than cool, with big band accompaniment.

Quasimodo dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the utterly infectious "Pipeline"-esq flip to the Road Runners's "Road Runnah" single, which also appears credited to the Pyramids on the London version of their LP, as well as the Sundazed CD. Flying glissandoes, great double picking, and very cool riffs.

Phantom Guitar dotdotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

A fine rhythm and echoed Indian riff guitar drive "Phantom Guitar" to the bank. It's interesting and neighbors on surf. It's great to hear UK guitar instros that aren't Shadows clones. Not that the Shads weren't great, but there were just too many soundalikes. This sounds more Euro or maybe even American in structure and melody line.

Echo Canyon dotdotdot
Tweaky Piano (Instrumental)

Dueling pianos groove over a nearly Pipeline bass line, with heavily echoed guitar and really tweaky effects. Given Ferrante and Teicher's penchant for tux and ivory recitals, this is certainly way outside their pail. Interesting.

Ghost Train dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Not a cover of the Swanks' more familiar piece, this instead is a country shuffle with train whistle lap steel and an infectious rhythm. It's not very melodic, but it is fun.

Speed Fiend dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Kinda like the Three Suns with less suave and more Lawrence Welk rhythm. Lots of echo and an increasing pace. It nearly rocks as it approaches 35 MPH. Almost gimmicky, but just a little cooler.

The Phantoma dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Big echoed guitar over a near surf rhythm. This 1961 single is on the cool side of the tracks, with driving damped guitar playing its little heart out. Very cool.

Fright dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Echoed evil dark period surf. This is a really cool tune, with reverbed vibratoed lead guitar, and a menacing sound. Reverb kicks and occasional female screams punctuate the track, which relies heavily on the sound rather than a melody. Quite effective, and very suave.

Transylvania dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Fifties rock and roll jamming, low key cool from some back room. Excellent guitar noodling, especially for this kind of tune that usually doesn't get beyond riff rock. Cool.

The Eye In Flat Five dotdotdot
Big Band Guitar (Instrumental)

Horn section jazz and spy squirt guitar. Little more than OK, though the rhythm guitar's riff is very cool. It's infectious even though you don't want it to be. Excellent drums.

Swinging Ghosts dot
MOR (Instrumental)

The rhythm riff is just like the Rumblers' "I'm Bugged," but the flute lead is just MOR fluff.

Theme (Instrumental)

Mr. lounge spy score Lalo Schifrin delivers the chorus and all... makes you want to avoid elevators for good. Maybe a little like the TV theme to Star Trek.

Spook Train dotdotdot
Tweaky Jazz (Instrumental)

Quirky wah wah guitar riffs, double picked at times, over an MJQ kinda spacy vibes and bass thing with brushed drums. Ultra noodle for early fusion fanatics. Angular and dissonant. Try it just 'cuz it's so strange. From 1972.

Robot Dance dotdotdot
Android Surf (Instrumental)

Fusiony weirdness from 1973 with reverbed guitar played really damped on very high registers. The whole thing is about weirdness more than music. It's disquieting, especially with the surf guitar. Very strange!

The Madhouse dotdotdot
Distressing (Instrumental)

A drummer's exercise room is bugged... maybe there's a band next door? Nope, just drums. Wait, there's the bass doing nifty runs up and down the neck, and vibes plinking away, and electro noise, and stressed guitar... this is one distressing track, like Captain Beefheart on Halloween! The artist is unlisted on this 1975 track.

Scary Moonlight dotdotdot
Spooky Jazz (Instrumental)

Strangeness imparted to your speakers by John Zorn back in '89... soft and spooky. It eventually turns into an almost backwoods romp, though never gets beyond soft.

Dead Things Rising dotdotdotdot
Near Surf Scratch (Instrumental)

Ringing guitar chords, tribal drums, spooky scratching, and intriguing noodling from 1996. It verges on surfability, though the backtrack style is way outside. Very cool near surf guitar. A fine and experimental track.