Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Strictly Instrumental Vol 4dotdotdot
artworkMany of the Buffalo Bop releases sport hidden instro gems, and occasionally surf as well. The Strictly Instrumental series is a gathering of many of those tracks. Volume 4 includes some wonderful instro moments, and some fine minor surf tracks as well. The major proportion of fifties instros were simple riffs or progressions, slim on melody, and often structured like a backtrack that never found lyrics. All tracks are "mastered" from original 45 rpm vinyl. I'd be surprised if the reason is "maintaining the real 50's blast" as stated on the sleeve, but more likely that no licenses exist, and that the investment in tracking down tapes just wasn't made (bootleg, in other words). It is always great to hear the material, but better sources and sound quality would be greatly appreciated. Still, this is a mighty worthwhile buy for the fan of the obscure.
Picks: Twangy, Straight Away, Thundering Guitar, Crystal Rock, The Tick, Lasseon, Arrgoongah, Dominic's Inferno, The Snark, Rock It, Swamp Rat, Frantic, Love And Fury, Sandstorm, Guitar Bass Boogie, Catastrophe, Downhill, The Beat, Ghost Train, Ronnie's Night House, High Hat Rock, The New E, Fort Lauderdale, U. S. A., Tom-Tom, Scramble, Moon Dawg, Jam, Mustang, Blitzkreig, Nightcap Rock

Track by Track Review


Twangy dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Twangy" is riff city, crude and simple, and recorded in that ambient small studio combo sound. The whammy stops are cool, but otherwise it is only rare, not significant.

Straight Away dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is actually Freddie King's "San-Ho-Zay." Why the writing credit is McKay-St. Romain is a mystery, unless the original issue sought to avoid royalties. The damped slightly reverbed guitar sounds are cool.

Thundering Guitar dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Slow, rhythmically gentle, surfy enough, with Spanish influences. Quite pretty actually. The melody is not very memorable, more like a progression than anything else. Bluesy and slightly dramatic.

Crystal Rock dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Faster paced, vibrato reverb twang, very playful, and very infectious. Images of children playing in the Sweetwater, maidens frolicking on the sand, a bit of country, a spot of the sea, and a rolling rhythm. What more is needed? Damn fine track.

The Tick dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A mean and slightly revered low-E guitar gives this a surfy feel, while being mostly a primitive riff with thundering tom toms. There's not much melody, but it has a definite teen surf band edge, with an appropriately dark sax. Nice track.

Lasseon dotdotdot
Rockabilly Strummin (Instrumental)

This is low power rhythmic rockabilly jive, with interspersed comments like "which a way did he go" and "drinkin' again, Huh?" It's quite an infectious number.

Arrgoongah dotdotdot
Vibrato Rock (Instrumental)

This is one crude track, with distorted (from overdriving the amp) lead guitar, and a mean sax. It is a riff, not a song, but the throbbing vibrato rhythm guitar is very cool. The fifties pre-surf ethic is alive and well here.

Dominic's Inferno dotdotdotdot
Midwest Rock (Instrumental)

This is just a block away from the Titans in sound and approach, which places it a mere two blocks from surf street. The high note double picking is fast and furious, as were some of their contemporary Midwest bands. Definitely surfable, and more than a little fun.

The Snark dotdot
Riff Rock (Instrumental)

This is a piano riff rock number with a plinking piano sound and backwoods rif-rock guitar work.

Rock It dotdot
Riff Rock (Instrumental)

Unremarkable riff rockin' jam for the kiddies music just doesn't hold my interest.

Swamp Rat dotdotdot
Luau Surf (Instrumental)

Echoed low-E twangin' vibrato guitar, playing a riff just like the Beach Boys' (Bruce Johnston wrote it) "Luau." Since this predates "Luau," I have to wonder if Bruce had heard this. Then again, I just can't picture Bruce Johnston being into cool instro... he seems more the top forty type. Anyway, this is a very cool riff based number, with plenty of beach party while you wait for the surf to rise feel. Nice track.

Frantic dotdotdot
Intense Surf Boogie (Instrumental)

Riffin' boogie jam with plinking Jerry Lee Lewis pumping piano. Lo-fi, but intense. I can't say it's all that strong, but it has a charm about it and a reverb-echoed lead guitar.

Love And Fury dotdotdot
Intense Surf Boogie (Instrumental)

Bizarre! Like a "Telstar" clone gone awry (it is a Tornados tune). The thick dull sound, the Wurlitzer mentality, the throbbing vibrato on the organ... mighty weird, but somehow quite cool. It must be from the early sixties. The double picked surf guitar employed in the break is very reverby and quite effective. What a cool track, despite it's muddy sound.

Sandstorm dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a surf cover of Johnny & the Hurricane's "Sandstorm," with slightly stiff playing and indistinct sound. The arrangement is pretty cool, and it must have been played by many surf bands, though few cut the track. This is infectious and haunting, with the vibrato second guitar and dribbling lead a la the Hollywood Sunsets' "Sky Rider."

Guitar Bass Boogie dotdotdot
Surfabilly Boogie (Instrumental)

The rhythm guitar is reverbed and damped, the lead is reverbed and twangy, while the song is fifties boogie shuffle. It makes for a very cool combination. Infectious and friendly.

Catastrophe dotdotdot
Riff Rock (Instrumental)

Riff rock, low key and unimaginative. It's neither catastrophic nor memorable. In the second half of the song,m the lead goes into a damped thing that sounds pretty surfy, but it's not enough to save the track from obscurity.

Downhill dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Surf riff based twang, churning with the drums down the hall. The lead guitar is both reverbed and echoed, and the riff is definitely surfable.

The Beat dotdotdot
Fifties Instro (Instrumental)

For primitive rural American indie instros of the fifties, it's hard to beat the Rockin' R's. Still, this track is mostly a rhythm, and the fidelity of their work is not good. This does provide a glimpse into the realm of garage bands in the fifties in places like Idaho and North Dakota, and most notably the suburbs of Peoria, Illinois.

Ghost Train dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of the more often comp'd instros from the fifties. It is a fast and infectious train tune, with a big reverby lead guitar and lots of subtle whammy. The double picked guitar work is very "swank," and the the contrast between the surf guitar's optimism and the minor key danger of the rhythm guitar and bass is quite effective. Fine track.

Ronnie's Night House dotdotdot
Almost Surf (Instrumental)

This is a frat rockin' number with cool picked bass, nice guitar riff work, and a "Have Love Will Travel" (Richard Berry) feel to it. With just a little more reverb, this would be a surf tune.

High Hat Rock dotdotdot
Rockabilly (Instrumental)

This is a cool riff rockin' tune, with a nasty enough sax, and rhythmic guitar. The organ is cheesy, and the snare drum is crisp, while the over all sound is ambient and muddy. It is, none the less, infectious in a rockabilly way.

The New E dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This fifties progression track is muddy and rhythmic, but more a jam than a song.

Fort Lauderdale, U. S. A. dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

What a party record! Playful, inebriated, fast pickin', and totally fun. The drummer screams and shouts, and the band races along. They were having fun, and it translates well into the recording, despite it's primitive lo-fi quality.

Tom-Tom dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This jam based riff rockin' thing is infectious just because they were obviously having fun playing it. It's very muddy, but the carrying on with grunts and shouts is wonderfully innocent and fun.

Scramble dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

With a "Wipe Out" (Surfaris) inspired opening laugh and a cry of "Scramble," this is fun but unremarkable. The sound is thin and the style is fifties party rockin' B-side.

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.

Jam dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Echoed guitar and crispy snare drum, and a raging fifties riff combine in an near surf track that sounds like a Midwest surf band like the Titans. Fast and fun, rhythmic and infectious. Much less like a jam than the title indicates.

Mustang dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Lot's of whoops and hollers punctuate this rhythmic riff rocker. hard driven, rodeo fun, and almost chunky.

Blitzkreig dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

What a great name. I expected a dissonant sound. This is fifties riff surfy guitar with very cool piano and almost mariachi horns. It is mighty infectious, though not melodic at all. The recording is pretty marginal, with the drums way in the back and quite indistinct.

Nightcap Rock dotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

This is a cool jazzy rendering of a tune that hints of Mose Allison's "Comin' Hone Baby" merged with Ernie Fields' "In The Mood" and Professor Longhair's pumping New Orleans piano. A jam with a mighty friendly blues feel.