Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Royaltones - Detroit Rock 'n' Roll Began Here!dotdotdotdot
artworkIt's about damn time! The Royaltones were one of the early rock instro bands, and contributed mightily to the evolution of the sound. Their Flamingo Express influenced early surf bands, and was the basis for The Sentinals' "The Sentinal." Much of this has been bootlegged before, but finally, here it is the way the single sounded. No surf, but fundamentally important early rock instro history.
Picks: Poor Boy, Wail, Ginchy, Flamingo Express, El Toro, Little Bo, Revival Tonite, Butterscotch, Royal Whirl, Lonely World, Boss Limbo, Allouette, Holy Smokes, Mairzy Doats, The Peppermint Twist, Seesaw, Tacos, Secret Love, Crazy In Love

Track by Track Review


Poor Boy dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Upper Midwest instro rockers the Royaltones recorded many a fine track. 1958's "Poor Boy" is their most familiar track because it was a hit for them. It is pretty tame as their tracks went, with damped echoed guitar, piano, and cryin' sax, all flowing out a weeping melody.

Wail dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Lap steel whining, like a back room Santo and Johnny or toned down Juicy Lucy precursor. Rockin jivin' coolness. No melody, but dripping smoky bar room soul.

Big Wheel dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Big rolling drums and piano, this has all the earmarks of a fifties jam. It's spirited, like a minor Champs track.

Ginchy dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Plinky piano and honkin' sax romp in a basic rock format. It's way more fun tan it is great. Sax leads, piano tomfoolery, and pumping kick drum and bass. Quite innocent.

Flamingo Express dotdotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is their best tune IMHO! It is highly rhythmic, like a train rolling down the tracks. It is sax led, and absolutely infectious. It was likely the inspiration for "The Sentinal" by the Sentinals. It is one of the must-have pre surf tracks. Also called "The Flip."

El Toro dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Spaghetti western rhythms and a fast paced rolling beat accompany a sax line that sounds like it might reflect an afternoon at the bull fight, with a shallow nod to "High Noon" and the Hollywood Persuaders.

Misty Sea dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Eerie guitar way off in the distance, sultry sax, and a free ride on the elevator with the Wurlitzer salesman.

Little Bo dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Little Bo" is a big tom tom romp on the runway of life, with much more energy and sensuality than melody. An interesting little ditty.

Good Times dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a jammin' number with cool piano and R&B sax. It never rises above the jam level, yet it's pretty satisfying. This is a previously unreleased track.

Revival Tonite dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

With saxes harmoniously straddling the line between the Champs and the Church Street Five, this is enthusiastic and endearing, even though it's quite a basic riff rock number. It has a charm, not entirely unlike "Brontosaurus Stomp."

Butterscotch dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Yup, it's the Scottish masterpiece, with the sax accompaniment that the Viscounts used in "When The Saints Come Marching In." Very cool, especially when the guitar-sax duet takes over. Where's that bonny lass with my kilts? Also called "Scotch N' Soda."

Short Line dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

An afternoon at the mall, where the geek in the sports coat grooves mightily with "When The Saints Go Marching In" on his mighty Wurlitzer. That's the feel, at least until the Chuck Rio style saxes come in. The sax riff is Clarence "Frogman" Henry's classic hit "Ain't Got No Home."

Royal Whirl dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is far from the best this great band ever did. It is an honest unpretentious fifties rockin' sax-guitar-vibrophone in-sync tune with no shortage of sock hop mentality. Very very fun, with a little of that "Flamingo Express" damped chop.

Lonely World dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a slow number with haunted keys and clarinet carrying the melody. It's very pretty and a bit moody, and the rhythm guitar and keys are really the thing that makes it work. The chorus is period poppy, but unnecessary.

Boss Limbo dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Cool typical limbo percussion and the feel of the Champs' "Limbo Rock," but a little more raw Very cool and exotic. The guitar break is excellent, almost surfable.

Allouette dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a playful version of the French ditty, with guitar and dueling saxes delivering the spunk and grins. Pure fun!

Holy Smokes dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This original demo of this tune is rockabilly echoed and full of fury. It's more a riff than a song, but it sure is full of spit and vinegar. Very cool.

Dixie Rock dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Saucy piano and sax romp through "Dixie." It's so weird... The stops where the saxes squonk out a low note is way strange. There's something here that begs for forgiveness, but damned if I can figure out what it is. It makes you laugh. Also issued as "Dixie Cup."

Mairzy Doats dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Mairzy Doats" is a bit hokey, as the subject matter might suggest. The percussion is suave, and the Champs like backtrack is also fun. Occasional big sax lines and guitar hooks too. I wouldn't have expected this could have been done credibly with the old children's song. Pretty cool.

The Peppermint Twist dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Ringing guitar, 15 ips echoed backtrack, and a little riff. The ringing guitar is very cool, shimmering like a preteen Miles Corbin line. It's all so simple, but quite appealing.

Our Faded Love dotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Just outside the door of the elevator on the 13th floor lies this MOR slush. Slow and soothing, with a soft baritone sax lead and slowly double picked chord backing, with a mall organ for edge.

Seesaw dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This has uses the main melody riff from "Hippy Hippy Shake," but I suspect there's no connection on either end. The plucking is cool against the saxes, and the R&B nature of the structure is appealing.

Tacos dotdotdotdot
Mariachi Rock (Instrumental)

A great mariachi flavored number with plenty of Champs feel and real flair. Unlike some of their work, "Tacos" sport inspired sax work, solid guitar, and Latin sound of east LA.

The Yea Yea Song dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a hokey track targeted at the top forty in the same way that the Ventures' "Lolita Yeah Yeah" was. It has a Northwest sound, with organ and sax, accompanied by the girls sing those plaintiff words "Yea Yea Yea Yea yeah."

Clip Clop dotdot
Fifties Rock & Roll (Instrumental)

A fifties plinky piano & sax number with little to call its own.

Secret Love dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Secret Love" is a tasty riff rocker with sax duet lead and pumping piano. part way between The Champs and Jerry Lee Lewis, the song is really fun, and the chamber 'verb on the guitar in the break gives it a presurf feel. The electric piano verse is excellent too. Lots to like here.

Poor Boy
Rock (Instrumental)

The is an extremely rare track. It's the original acetate demo for The Royaltones' best known instro hit from back when they were still called The Paragons. It's incredibly close to the hit, just muddier and more primitive. Great history here!

Crazy In Love dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This lovely track is a new recording from Royaltones sax man and leader George Katsakis. It's stunningly beautiful!