Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Rock 'n Roll Instrumentals Vol. 1dotdotdot
artworkThis is volume one of a fine three volume series on the Guitar label. It collects 18 instros from the late fifties and early sixties, including a couple of surf singles and some tasty pre-surf gems. From vinyl sources.
Picks: Tomahawk, Border Beat, Line Drive, Fire Fly, Midnight Runner, Cowboys and Indians, All Keyed Up, Swimmin' Part One, Swimmin' Part Two, Outta Tune, Moon Dawg, Upturn, Like Thunder, Califf Boogie, Umble Rumble, Banzai Washout, Jefferie's Rock, Mustang '65

Track by Track Review


Tomahawk dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a standard fifties instro, with a slight Indian theme. Nothing special, though the chord drops over the toms hint of surf to come.

Border Beat dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a Link Wray influenced number, not in intensity or tone, but in construction. Twangy, relentlessly dramatic, and sporting a melodic riff, "Border Beat" has a timeless rock 'n country twang and charm, and some rich gutty guitar tone.

Line Drive dot
Fifties Rock & Roll (Instrumental)

Rock instead of Country, typical of single B-sides with little melody and direction.

Fire Fly dotdotdot
Country (Instrumental)

"Fire Fly" was the B-side of his one big hit "Scratchy." It buzzes and flits around with gay abandon, having more fun per byte than is prudent. No sustain on the guitar, just damped country junk a la Jerry Reed.

Midnight Runner dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Riff rockin' guitar twango for the obscuro fan. Kinda grodie and cool, but too heavily dependent on a jam quality and basic riff. The low-E riffs are nearly surf in structure.

Cowboys and Indians dotdotdot
Schizoid (Instrumental)

This is one cool tune. The guitarist trades melodies and styles from verse to verse, with a trembling vibrato line over tom toms for the Indians, and an almost Buck Owens sound over a chunka-chunka rhythm for the cowboys. It's pretty fun.

All Keyed Up dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A riffin' fifties jammin' shuffle. Fun, but unimaginative.

Swimmin' Part One dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Swimmin' Part One" is a minimal instrumental with a simple progression and a pre-surf rock'n'roll edge. It's pretty cool in a small town combo kinda way, and the drums are crisp.

Swimmin' Part Two dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A slightly up-tempo vintage rocker with a grinding frantic groove. Similar in aural quality, but not at all the same melody or progression as part one. A "Honey Don't" intro to part two is guttier but no more interesting than part one. This is a great rockabilly boogie, while also being as simple as they come. It's actually quite infectious. Rhythmic and energetic, it lacks only from a lead guitar not present enough. Damn cool track.

Outta Tune dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A guitar boogie on the aggressive side, with a moderately interesting lead line and lots of spunk. Cool damped second guitar rhythms and raging snare action a la Cozy Cole in the drum break. Big time fun.

Moon Dawg dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Right in the pocket is "Moon Dawg" from this great studio band. "Moon Dawg" is intense and energetic. Even Paul Revere and the Raiders covered it on their first album. Producer Nik Venet did the dog howls. As a side note, the B-side of the original World Pacific single was called "LSD-25," one of the earliest drug-titled rock songs.

Upturn dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Cool drums and big twang guitar, like something on its way to being Gene Gray and his Stingrays or some such. A twang fest in a pre surf mold, with an infectious riff, jammin' guitar, and cool cowboy-come-surf second guitar.

Like Thunder dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Thunder rolls, echoed murky sound, and within... a powerful tune from Freddie Thomas and the Rialtos with pre surf guitar sounds and wild picking. Lots of energy, big beat, and an infectious structure. Some enterprising surf band should cover this.

Califf Boogie dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Califf Boogie" is a slightly up-tempo vintage rocker with a grinding frantic groove. Similar in aural quality, but not at all the same melody or progression as part one. A "Honey Don't" intro to part two is guttier but no more interesting than part one. This is a great rockabilly boogie, while also being as simple as they come. It's actually quite infectious. Rhythmic and energetic, it lacks only from a lead guitar not present enough. Damn cool track.

Umble Rumble dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This 1960 single is pure rock of the period. It's hard drivin', and sports great guitar, but is mostly a show off riff rocker. The guitar is close enough to emerging surf to fit into a surf set well enough. Big whammy ending.

Banzai Washout dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Steve Douglas wrote this classic and plays the raging sax. Dick Dale later covered it. The melody is hot, the rhythm is driving, the drums inspired, and the whole thing rocks. The brilliant ringing tones and the speed are marvelous. One of the great singles. Billy Strange played the fiery lead.

Jefferie's Rock dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Low key rock progression instro. The riff is pretty nice, but fairly unimaginative. A basic jammin' kinda thing.

Mustang '65 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A little more jam like than I prefer, but "Mustang '65" does sport a sub surf sound, an interesting riff, and solid drums. A little jazz edge, and the kinda riff that "Mag Wheels" is based around.