Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Johnny and the Hurricanes - The Definitive Collection [2 CD Set]dotdotdot
artworkJohnny and the Hurricanes were a magical outfit. Their knack for taking common tunes and doing uncommon arrangements that were truly rockin' has never been matched. They could knock your socks off, or they could make you puke. They always teetered on the edge between great and horrid. This extensive two CD set is all in mono, which is too bad because some of their stereo recordings are excellent, "Sheba" for instance. I still recall fondly seeing them on American Bandstand. Dave Yorko's guitar work was brilliant. Some of their material could easily be adapted to become modern surf classics. The Neon Spores used to do "Sandstorm" to great effect. This is also a semi-budget CD set, with two discs and 59 tracks for around $25. If the pre-surf era holds any interest for you at all, get into Johnny & the Hurricanes. If this set gets you started, seek out the stereo, much of which appears on various CDs. The liner notes are quite extensive and very good too.
Picks: Cross Fire, Lazy, Red River Rock, Buckeye, Reveille Rock, Time Bomb, Sand Storm, Beatnik Fly, Down Yonder, Sheba, Rocking Goose, Revival, Molly-O, You Are My Sunshine, Ja-Da, Mr. Lonely, High Voltage, Old Smokie, Traffic Jam, Farewell Farewell, Misirlou, Salvation, San Antonio Rose, Come On Train, Minnesota Fats, Sheik Of Araby, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, Greens and Beans, Money Honey, Shadows, Kaw-Liga, Rough Road, Happy Time, Cut Out, Storm Warning, Bam Boo, Thunderbolt, Joy Ride, Rock-Cha, The Kid, Bye Bye Blackbird, Teensville Tonight, Mister Irving, Tom's Tune, Corn Pone, Milk Shake, Cyclone, Travelin', Bean Bag, Rockin' T, Hot Fudge, Corn Bread, Catnip, The Hep Canary, Oh Du Lieber Augustin, James Bond Theme, The Hungry Eye, It's A Mad Mad Mad World, That's All

Track by Track Review

Cross Fire dotdotdotdot
Sax Guitar (Instrumental)

Guitar machine gun riff and a growling sax in a most ominous tune. You can just see a stylized prohibition gang land drive by...

Lazy dotdotdot
Guitar Sax Organ (Instrumental)

Guitar melody slowly shimmers as the organ counters and the sax cries for mercy.

Red River Rock dotdotdot
Sax & Organ Rock (Instrumental)

The first of what would become their formula, public domain standards ominously rocked out with organ dominated evil sax instrumentals with great Dave Yorko guitar breaks. "Red River Rock" never sounded so cool! It was instro covers of public domain standards that originally influenced Paul Johnson, who used "Little Brown Jug" among others in the Belairs sets (and on disc).

Buckeye dotdot
Sax Piano Guitar (Instrumental)

A bison bop tune with the guitar laying down a cool riff under a mean sax and a pumping piano.

Reveille Rock dotdotdotdot
Military Organ-Sax-Guitar Rave (Instrumental)

Yup! This just plain rocks! Not many of the instros of the late fifties really pummeled, but this had more energy than most everything else of the day. The organ lead is so-o-o cool, and the spit-ball sax just rips! Dave Yorko's guitar break rules too! When I was in the service, I used to play this in the barracks at reveille to wake the slumbering masses.

Time Bomb dotdot
Organ Sax Guitar Jazz (Instrumental)

No explosion from this misnamed tune. More a cool for cats Beat/Jazz number and a simple riff-rocker.

Sand Storm dotdotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Dave Yorko's simple infectious guitar line, mixed with bells, a pumping choppy organ and sax sums up to a mighty fine track. The Neon Spores used to do this song to great effect. Some enterprising surf band should pick this up and surf the Hell out of it.

Beatnik Fly dotdotdot
Organ Sax (Instrumental)

This is another track morphing a traditional song, as was the majority of the singles from this band. "Blue Tail Fly [Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don't Care]" became "Beatnik Fly" over a cool backtrack and Dave Yorko's great guitar. The intro is so sad, then the Beat rhythm, breaks out and the cool jazz bass line, and then that whistlin' organ and mumblin' sax. It's way fun and melodic.

Down Yonder dotdotdotdotdot
Organ Guitar Sax (Instrumental)

The kettle drum is so-o-o cool here. It adds that extra dimension to a nearly screaming organ lead or that rapid fire damped guitar chop and sax squirtology. When the sax takes the lead, the organ pumps the same way the guitar was. Very infectious arrangement and powerhouse performance.

Sheba dotdotdotdotdot
Tribal Middle Eastern Guitar (Instrumental)

Dave Yorko's magnificent guitar work just shines here. This incredible middle eastern melody is spectacular as is, but just imagine it surfed up! The organ is mysterious beneath it all. Why isn't some surf band doing this? It rips!!!!

Rocking Goose dotdotdotdot
Organ Sax (Instrumental)

With the sax squirting out goose honks and the organ pumping out a simple lead line, this track has to be one of the most infectious gimmick records ever recorded.

Revival dotdotdot
Organ Sax (Instrumental)

"When The Saints Go Marching In" has been done by dozens of rock and R&B acts, including the cooler-than-cool version by the Viscounts. Here, the organ melody line is accented with sax slides, until they trade places. Nice and pumped.

Molly-O dot
Organ Sax (Instrumental)

If they'd just left the strings outta the thing, it would have been a lot better. Oh well, it's not that great a loss. It is just a cover of "Greensleeves" after all.

You Are My Sunshine dot
Organ (Instrumental)

A basic rendition in a Perez Prado sorta way.

Ja-Da dot
Organ (Instrumental)

Again, a loungy arrangement with an organ lead.

Mr. Lonely dot
Guitar Organ (Instrumental)

Slow dance guitar lines with the organ whistling away. A stroll.

High Voltage dotdot
Guitar Organ (Instrumental)

Raw guitar choked like Link Wray too fast, delivered under a simple organ lead. This could be surfed up with a reverb guitar taking the organ lines. The melody is based on that old English children's song "Gramma's Lye Soap," or what ever it's called. Lonnie Donnegan had a big MOR hit with it in the fifties.

Old Smokie dotdot
Organ Guitar (Instrumental)

Johnny Otis' "Hand Jive" guitar riffs under the keys is OK, but not inspired like some of their public domain covers.

Traffic Jam dotdotdot
Tribal (Instrumental)

Traffic sounds lead in, with the band fading in with a jazzy guitar line and a honky-squonky sax pumping over tribal tones. Occasional Broadway sax lines detract... too MOR for the rest of the arrangement. The Tiki Tones could make hay with this.

Farewell Farewell dot
Guitar Organ Sax (Instrumental)

Eerie vibrato guitar and sax echoed and an organ riff... not very interesting.

Misirlou dotdotdotdot
Organ Sax Guitar (Instrumental)

Most unusual rendition of the Greek classic. A chunky guitar bed with the sax growling ominously. The organ takes the lead. If you're expecting Dick Dale, forget it. On the other hand, this is not the least bit lounge or fifties schmaltz. The sax break has that Steve Douglas staccato thing happening, and the guitar break is great too.

Piano Trumpet (Instrumental)

A rolling piano and a trumpet lead can't salvage "Bringing In The Sheep.".. JEEZ!

San Antonio Rose dotdot
Organ (Instrumental)

Chunky rhythms and an organ lead... just OK.

Come On Train dotdotdot
Sax Guitar (Instrumental)

Guitar train whistles a la the Swanks' "Ghost Train" open this cool number, with the guitar doing some rare double picking under a sax lead. Interesting arrangement.

Minnesota Fats dotdotdot
Sax Organ Guitar (Instrumental)

The sounds of the pool hall and a dissonant choked guitar with choppy organ all supporting a bluesy sax lead.

Sheik Of Araby dot
Organ (Instrumental)

Organ chops over an uninspired bed.

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane dot
Girl Chorus MOR (Instrumental)

Man-oh-man! The girls' chorus is gross. The rest is... yuk MOR.

Greens and Beans dotdot
Organ (Instrumental)

Relatively uninspired Booker T clone. While it's faster, it's no more interesting than "Mo Onions," certainly no "Tic Tac Toe."

Money Honey dot
Sax Boy Chorus (Instrumental)

Pedestrian sax rendition of the rock standard with a chorus.

Shadows dotdotdot
Space Blues (Instrumental)

Almost Tornadoes-like organ via Leslie or vibrato... very cool under a blue sax melody. A most unusual sound... space blues.

Kaw-Liga dotdotdot
Organ Guitar Rockabilly (Instrumental)

Indian tom-toms and spacy organ plus near-surf guitar sounds. The organ carries the lead on this cool rockabilly guitar classic originally eked out by Hank Williams or someone.

Rough Road dotdot
Guitar Organ (Instrumental)

A pumping organ supports a vibrato guitar for a moderately interesting effect.

Happy Time dotdotdot
Sax Guitar Organ (Instrumental)

An evil sax line is supported by swirling guitar and organ riffs.

Cut Out dot
Guitar Boy Chorus (Instrumental)

A guitar boogie lead over rolling toms and horrid "Cut Out" beat poetry chorus lines.

Storm Warning dot
Sax Guitar Boogie Shuffle (Instrumental)

Just sax squonkage and guitar boogie shuffle triteness.

Bam Boo dotdotdot
Sax Guitar Organ (Instrumental)

The guitar lays down an intricate line with the organ rolling under a choppy sax. Quite cool.

Thunderbolt dot
Sax Fifties Rock and Roll (Instrumental)

A fifties rocker with a sax lead.

Joy Ride dotdot
Guitar Sax (Instrumental)

Boogie woogie rolling guitar lines and sax howls.

Rock-Cha dotdot
Organ Cha Cha Cha (Instrumental)

Like you might guess from the title, the cha cha cha is the theme with a pedestrian organ lead.

The Kid dotdot
Sax-Trumpet (Instrumental)

A trad fifties jammin' tune with a sax-trumpet duet supported by a pumping organ. Too dance party for me.

Bye Bye Blackbird dotdotdot
Organ Sax Guitar (Instrumental)

A lot like their earlier work, with the whistling organ and sax bridge, plus that trademark Dave Yorko guitar break. The tune is another public domain standard morphed into their standard format.

Teensville Tonight dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

With the rhythm from "Little Brown Jug" and a melody line from "Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight" a.k.a. "Camp Town Races.".. cool.

Mister Irving dot
Horn (Instrumental)

The horn section is doing the Broadway thing while the band plays without much spirit. Ho-hum.

Tom's Tune dot
Organ Elevator Strings (Instrumental)

It didn't merit much of a name, and now I know why. Take a slow variation on "Crossfire," play a whistling organ over the top, and add strings... elevator mung.

Corn Pone dotdot
Hickoid Folk (Instrumental)

A hickoidal rendition of "She'll Be Comin' 'Round The Mountain When She Comes."

Milk Shake dotdot
Sax Plucky (Instrumental)

A plucky damped reverb guitar lies under sax lead that's bluesy. The organ is pumping away through it all.

Cyclone dotdot
Sax Guitar (Instrumental)

The sax howls a repetitious but ominous lead line over the pumping guitar chords.

Travelin' dotdotdot
Wood Block Organ Country Hawaiian (Instrumental)

Light weight guitar chords and wood block percussion with a cutesy organ lead. The guitar break is somewhere between country and Hawaiian.

Bean Bag dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A sax tune with a Bo Diddley feel and an harmonica accented choppy backtrack. Choppy organ and sax R&B riff rock, with a pulsing organ and lots of edge. The organ whistles in the break over tribal drums. There's quite a bit in common between "Beanbag" and "Brontosaurus Stomp."

Rockin' T dotdotdot
Organ Folk (Instrumental)

Like the old stuff... similar to "She'll Be Comin' 'Round The Mountain When She Comes" and "Old Smoky," but faster and more spirited.

Hot Fudge dot
Euro Plucky Sax (Instrumental)

Euro plucky with a growling sax.

Corn Bread dot
Jimmy Smith Horns (Instrumental)

Jimmy Smith organ with horns... very derivative.

Catnip dot
Sax Organ (Instrumental)

A sax rant over an oscillating organ.

The Hep Canary dotdot
Organ (Instrumental)

A chirpy organ and a rolling backtrack.

Oh Du Lieber Augustin dotdot
Organ (Instrumental)

The German standard rockin' with an organ lead.

James Bond Theme dotdotdot
Organ Spy (Instrumental)

The organ leads where you'd expect the guitar, except for the classic hooks.

The Hungry Eye dotdot
Beatnik Sax (Instrumental)

Beatnik chunk under a fifties beat sax line.

It's A Mad Mad Mad World dot
Sax Pop (Instrumental)

A wailing sax over a very poppy backtrack.

That's All dot
Fifties Sax (Instrumental)

A mellow fifties sax slow dance number. Like an Ace Cannon thing with slightly more bite.