Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The String-A-Longs - Pick A Hit - Wheelsdotdotdot
artworkThis is the original 1961 LP follow up to 1960's single hit for The String-A-Longs. Norman Petty's gorgeous recordings are the most compelling reason to like this - that and the very pleasant sound of the band. Pretty and real, with very cool percussion.
Picks: Wheels, Perfidia, Panic Button, Torquay, Red River Twist, Bulldog, Nearly Sunrise, Walk Don't Run, Save The Last Dance For Me

Track by Track Review

Wheels dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Ain't no surf here, and barely hot rod. It's melodic, fluid, and borders on MOR. "Wheels" is closer to the Norman Petty Trio than the Fireballs or Buddy Holly. It is a very pretty quasi rock piece with an infectious melody line and arrangement. It was a Billboard hit in 1960 on Warwick, the same label that brought us Johnny and the Hurricanes. It peaked at number 3. Not bad for a guitar instro. This is a Norman Petty composition.

Are You Lonesome Tonight dotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Man-o-man, is this anti-rock or what. You can just see the prune-faces swaying in their chairs... Soft rock before there was such a term.

Sentimental Journey dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a gentle, tremolo shimmered rendering of this classic melody. Very easy, and extremely well played and recorded, but fairly unremarkable. It's Norman Petty alone that sets this apart from being just easy pop rock.

Perfidia dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The Ventures made this into a rock standard. The String-A-Longs return it to the land of fluff, with just the slightest hint of drive. It's like a prettier tribute to the Ventures. It's quite nice, just very restrained. You can almost see them in their chairs playing this tune, aching to rock, but remaining discrete.

Panic Button dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

George Tomsco's tune is lightened up for the faint at heart. This diet version is much too saccharin for me, with the damped guts of the Fireballs original replaced by restrained finery. It's quite well played, just free of anything resembling drive or emotion. Having said that, it does work OK.

Torquay dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

George Tomsco's great "Torquay" delivered softly and perfectly, more restrained, but retaining the playfulness of the tune.

Red River Twist dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Yup, it's "Red River Valley" in a strange arrangement with extreme Leslie guitar and a rockin' second guitar. It has none of the fire of the Johnny and the Hurricanes version, but it does grab you by your closet MOR hairs.

Bulldog dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Approaching the Fireballs, but less percussive feeling, this is actually quite a nice version of their classic. I think George Tomsco would like this. Very true to the original, just slightly less "real," or maybe a little too perfect.

Harbour Lights dotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

This over covered MOR classic gains no new credibility here. Just MOR fluff, soft enough to get by even the retirement home sensors.

Nearly Sunrise dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This Norman Petty tune was first cut by the Fireballs. Here, it takes on a much different feel, with a much gentler delivery and Jorgen Ingmann "Apache" string swipes. It's curiously interesting despite it's mild arrangement. I think it's the odd string swipes that keep it alive.

Walk Don't Run dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a variation on the Ventures' 1960 arrangement of the Johnny Smith tune. It's less energetic than the Northwest version, but more spunky than anything else here. The drums are so withheld that it's almost as if they're covered with a thick quilt or something. Nifty enough, nearly rocks, and very well played.

Save The Last Dance For Me dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Just a tiny bit of grit amid the tremolo charm of The String-A-Longs. It's infectious pace and rhythm track separate this from the pop cover pack. Really nice.