Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Twang!dotdotdot
artworkThis is a very interesting compilation. Spanning 1958 through 1962, and mostly guitar oriented, it has little of the usual Shadows clone sound and lots of more dynamic and even occasional almost surf tracks. Out of sixty tracks on two discs, half are worth delving into, and some would be good fodder for surf covers. At $20, it's a good deal and fun to listen to as well.
Picks: Cervesa, Weekend, Yashmak, Easy Go, The Blue Bird, Sunday Date, Ten Swingin' Bottles, Whole Lotta Shakin' On The Range, The Switch, Peanut Vendor, Bullfight, Obsession, Bootnik, Three Old Maids, Forest Fire, The Ghoul Friend, Career Girl, Ambush, John Peel, Man In Space, Eclipse, Lone Rider, Rockin' Minstrel, Pompeii, Last Night, Ding Dong John, Blue Moon, Ram, Bunk, Shush, Isle Of Capri, Hangover, Yep, Juicy, Twelfth Street Rag, No Hats On Ilkley, Lumbered At The Lotus, Caravan, Night Train, A Matter Of Who, High Strung, Tornado, After You've Gone, Twistin' The Trad, Twistin' Those Meeces To Pieces, Honky Tonk, La Cucaracha, Hot Toddy, Tuxedo Junction, Stage To Cimarron, Begin The Beguine, Checkmate Stomp, Bristol Express, Johnny's Tune, Out Of This World, Sunburst, Exodus - Main Theme, March Of The Eagles, First Love, I Walk The Line, Evening In Paris, The Traitors

Track by Track Review

Cervesa dotdotdot
UK Organ (Instrumental)

This is a "Percolator"-like tune (Billy Joe and the Checkmates) with a more "Tequila"-like rhythm, but from a Dave "Baby" Cortez perspective. Interesting, but with very little guitar work.

Weekend dotdotdot
UK Sax (Instrumental)

"Weekend" is a sax instro solidly in the fifties bump and grind mold. Nothing to write home about.

Yashmak dotdotdot
UK Latin Jazz Guitar (Instrumental)

Slushy exotica with tasty guitar over Cuban bongos. The sound is sorta Desi Arnaz. The orchestra is subdued, but this is clearly pre-exotica big band Latin jazz. "Yashmak" is a nice track, with some nice restrained guitar licks.

Easy Go dotdotdot
UK MOR Guitar (Instrumental)

Plucky echoed guitar plays rhythm behind a chumpy orchestra before leading with a John Barry-esq sound. The aptly titled "Easy Go" is bouncy and playful, it's little more than MOR, and doesn't even rise to the Al Caiola level.

The Blue Bird dotdotdot
UK Lap Steel Piano (Instrumental)

Lap steel and plinky piano playing a very Perry Mason-ish melody. Interesting for a spin or two, and maybe a devilish side trip in that surf set.

Sunday Date dotdot
Pop (Instrumental)

Over compressed guitar lead exotic Shadows style tune.

Ten Swingin' Bottles dotdotdot
Spider Pop (Instrumental)

An almost Impacts rhythm sound. The melody is "Itsy Bitsy Spider." Pretty scary!

Whole Lotta Shakin' On The Range dotdotdot
UK Cowboy Rock (Instrumental)

Boppin' guitar, chumpy bass, and fifties riff rock mentality. The drums are cool, but the bass is too upfront, and the guitar sorta lost as it plays a variation of "Home On The Range" in places. Makes you wonder...

The Switch dot
Horn (Instrumental)

Fifties chumpy guitar riff rock with sax. Cutesy in a B-movie way. Horns and a Munsters sound... quirky and cutesy but not cool.

Peanut Vendor dotdotdot
UK Latin Surf (Instrumental)

An infectious cow bell and a cheesy chorus... this is an often covered tune. It would make a great subject for some enterprising surf band, like maybe Agent Orange or King of Hawaii (how's that for spectrum coverage!). Some excellent double picking, but mostly in the MOR part of town. Still, with that guitar work, I can't pass it up.

Bullfight dotdotdot
UK Near Surf (Instrumental)

This relatively common melody finds an interesting vehicle in vibrato guitar. It's not produced like Duane Eddy, yet there's a sense of him here, as well as something slightly related to the Sentinals, maybe in the phrasing. Pretty cool, infectious and fun.

Obsession dotdotdot
UK Fifties Rock (Instrumental)

MOR trash... studio so-what, with a fifties sound and honking low brow sax.

Bootnik dotdotdot
UK Big Guitar (Instrumental)

Aside from a pretty funky band name, this is like Duane Eddy filtered through UK shades. The backtrack is just so-so typical rock 'n' roll, while the lead is doubled with echo, making it approach some of the [Hollywood] Tornadoes material. It works, but it's a little too slick, like maybe an Al Caiola track without Hoss in the gun sight.

Three Old Maids dotdotdot
UK Fifties (Instrumental)

Straight ahead fifties instro fair. Standards were often a source for melody lines in early rock instros, probably because the trend towards writing one's own material really hadn't taken off yet.

Forest Fire dotdotdot
UK Sax (Instrumental)

A cry of "Timber-r-r-r-r" open this moderately jumpin' sax track. It has a nice guitar in the mix, and has the sort of feel that the Belairs used to bring to some of their more unique cover choices. Innocent and fun. The brief break features the guitar.

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.

Career Girl dotdotdot
UK Guitar (Instrumental)

This is quite a Shadows like instro from 1961. "Career Girl" is catchy and bouncy, with fine guitar and a late fifties feel.

Ambush dotdot
UK Fifties Rock (Instrumental)

Billy Mure's "Ambush" is moderately rocked in a late fifties style. Just OK.

John Peel dotdotdot
UK Guitar (Instrumental)

As far back as it goes, Brits were naming tracks after DJ's in hopes of getting them played. From '60 or '62, "John Peel" has a rockin' beat and a fluffy melody with quite a bit of body - no that's not a contradiction, just a characterization. Infectious, and ended with a big reverb / echo crash.

Man In Space dotdotdot
Shadows Fuzz Surf (Instrumental)

This is actually the Pete Chester Group, but the reason for the name change is unknown. It's a slightly fuzzed Shadows kinda thing with some very cool damped high on the neck slow glissandoes with reverb and echo to create a spacy sound. Heart warming and a neighbor to surf.

Eclipse dotdotdot
UK Fifties Guitar (Instrumental)

Bordering on frat, but too melodic and tight, "Eclipse" is infectious, yet not really memorable.

Lone Rider dotdotdotdot
Shadows-like (Instrumental)

Low-E Shadows inspired track with honking fifties sax in the back, and a decidedly slow Bonanza / Ghost Riders feel. Love the whammy stingers. A pretty cool track!

Rockin' Minstrel dotdotdot
UK Guitar Cheese (Instrumental)

Smooth horns and a chumpy rockabilly beat... The guitar is fine, but the backtrack is just too cheesy... like a lesser Duane Eddy track.

Pompeii dot
Horn (Instrumental)

Horns and an odd melody that's at odds with the drums that are totally out of sync with anything else going on here...

Last Night dotdotdot
UK Classic Rock (Instrumental)

The classic rock frat instro is nicely cut here, with a sultry female breathy voice oozing "last night" at the right points... a solid cover.

Ding Dong John
UK Sax Guitar (Instrumental)

"Fera Joca" (sp.)... jeesh!

Blue Moon dotdotdot
UK Rock (Instrumental)

With a guitar somewhere between surf and rockabilly, this cover of "Blue Moon" is rockin' with the sax and guitar trading the leads. The echoed guitar gets almost reverby at times. Not bad.

Ram, Bunk, Shush dotdot
UK Rock (Instrumental)

This is just an OK cover of a classic rock instro...

Isle Of Capri dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Plucky MOR mariachi horns again...more interesting than most, but just not very interesting...contrived almost.

Hangover dotdotdot
UK Guitar (Instrumental)

Thumpie and plunky and chunky. A paean to Chuck Rio. It is infectious, though a little tame.

Yep dotdot
UK Near Surf (Instrumental)

This Duane Eddy song is reverently portrayed, but it just has a somewhat restrained feel, though the guitar at times sports some surf reverb.

Juicy dotdot
UK Near Surf (Instrumental)

This almost surf track sports mild guitar and sax. The chorus ruins it, but until then, it's not bad.

Twelfth Street Rag dot
UK MOR (Instrumental)

David Ede's roots in big bands show here... this is a sappy MOR bouncer.

No Hats On Ilkley dotdot
UK Music Hall Rock (Instrumental)

Honky squirty post big band music hall rock. Just not very interesting. Aside from the Oscar Rabin Rock Band, David Ede also fronted the Go Man Go Men.

Lumbered At The Lotus dotdot
UK Jazz (Instrumental)

I'm not sure why this is here. Kenny Ball was a horn player who was strongly influenced by New Orleans jazz and skiffle. This is just such a track. It's much more interesting than his hit "Midnight In Moscow," but lacks any real staying power, though in some ways it has the feel of the opening of Long John Baldry's "Don't Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King Of Rock and Roll."

Caravan dotdotdot
UK Rock (Instrumental)

Duke Ellington's "Caravan" is oddly arranged. The rolling rhythm circles in front while the near surf guitar and sax languish in the next room. Coulda been a rocker.

Night Train dot
UK R&B (Instrumental)

Slow and schmoozy, this is just a plinky piano romancer for the card room.

A Matter Of Who dot
UK MOR (Instrumental)

Shiny MOR guitar twang, with a bouncy sound and light weight drive. Whammy and a My Three Sons sensibility.

High Strung dot
UK Light Rock (Instrumental)

Rhythm rockin' heavily echoed guitar in a sub-Shadows vein, like it can't decide if it's MOR or just light rock.

Tornado dot
UK MOR (Instrumental)

Here we have a nearly perfect "Testar" sample that turns to the wind sounding like the ocean under a "Mariah" light beat and a cruddy female chorus.

After You've Gone
UK MOR (Instrumental)

Piano and drums and base and chorus and where's the door... way too sappy.

Twistin' The Trad
UK Jazz Rock (Instrumental)

Cool drums, an introduction like the Challengers' "The Twomp" leading directly into a jazzy horn song... next!

Twistin' Those Meeces To Pieces
UK Sax Guitar (Instrumental)

Oh, see how they run... and you get the idea. "Three Blind Mice" with a military beat and a silly "Sweet Soul Music" horn section.

Honky Tonk dot
UK Rock (Instrumental)

Bill Dogget's "Honky Tonk" has been done and done. This is yet another cover. Nothing remarkable.

La Cucaracha dotdotdot
UK Rock (Instrumental)

"La Cucaracha" is kinda cool, unpretentious and with some cool double picking in the middle. Get out your urban sombrero and get ready for a moderate time on a tepid day at a gently swaying party...

Hot Toddy
UK MOR (Instrumental)

Fluffy British MOR... nothing to report.

Tuxedo Junction dot
UK Rock (Instrumental)

Light rockin' standards, sax dominated with fifties guitar. More spirited than some, but still unremarkable.

Stage To Cimarron dotdotdot
Western (Instrumental)

A nifty number with a decidedly western feel, and sorta Lawrence Welk rhythm and horns. Unusual, and catchy.

Begin The Beguine dotdot
UK Mar-Ketts Clone (Instrumental)

The arrangement is a knockoff of the Mar-Ketts' "Balboa Blue." Nothing more need be said.

Checkmate Stomp dotdot
UK Guitar (Instrumental)

And then we take the Mar-Ketts' "Surfers Stomp" and give it a skinny tie and it becomes "Checkmate Stomp."

Bristol Express dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The Eagles had a heavier than the Shadows approach to Brit instros. Michael Brice, Terry Clark, John Payne and Rodney Meacham were the Eagles. This is a melodic track, with a warbly guitar sound from the Hank Marvin style string bending. It's a fine single.

Johnny's Tune dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a lighter weight tune, with great tom toms, and an almost surf richness to the lead guitar. The melody is less memorable, but the track is a solid joy.

Out Of This World dotdotdotdot
UK Vibrato Exotica (Instrumental)

Tony Hatch was a studio session guy in the UK. Like US session man output, this sports little chemistry, just lot's of precision. Yet, the vibrato guitar and cool exotic space cadet sounds and percussion keep it on the list of possible. Very cool.

Sunburst dotdotdotdot
Duane Eddy-like (Instrumental)

Duane Eddyish track, right down to the Steve Douglas wanna be sax lines and Al Casey guitar sound. Manic pace and energy. Cool!

Exodus - Main Theme dotdot
UK Guitar (Instrumental)

This n is a very Shadows-like rendering of the film score. Nothing special. It lacks the charm of the Lively Ones or Halibuts versions.

March Of The Eagles dotdot
UK Guitar (Instrumental)

Fast and echoed, rhythmic and bouncy, yet it didn't stick in the gray matter after a listen.

First Love dotdot
Shadows MOR (Instrumental)

The Dave Clark Five do a slow dance guitar number on the low-E for the teeny boppers at the hop. This cheesy instro sports a big guitar lead over a sock hop organ and chorus. MOR at heart, it's just a stone's throw from Duane Eddy.

I Walk The Line dotdotdot
UK Guitar Sub Surf MOR (Instrumental)

Acoustic guitar under a great low-E vibrato lead that borders on surf playing the Johnny Cash tune. Despite the male chorus, it holds up well. I still think the best DCV instro is "Chaquita."

Evening In Paris dotdot
Organ (Instrumental)

The Tornadoes' "Ice Cream Man" sound without the guts.

The Traitors dotdot
Shadows Tequila (Instrumental)

A "Tequila"-like rhythm section and a slow Shadows style melody. Slightly interesting and a little odd.