Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Tornados - Telstar: The Complete Tornados - A Galaxy Of Startling Soundsdotdotdot
This is a comprehensive collection of The Tornados work, including essential tracks like "Telstar," "Jungle Fever," "Robot," "The Ice Cream Man," and "Stingray," plus lots of lesser tracks. Even the moreorless dreadful vocal material is here.
Picks: Love And Fury, Popeye Twist, Telstar, Jungle Fever, Robot, Life On Venus, The Ice Cream Man, Dragonfly, Hot Pot, Joystick, Monte Carlo, Exodus, Granada, Early Bird, Stompin' Through The Rye, Stingray, Aqua Marine, Is That A Ship I Hear, Dreamin' On A Cloud, Earthy, Ridin' The Wind, The Breeze And I, All The Stars In The Sky, Lonely Paradise, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Life On Venus

Track by Track Review


Love And Fury dotdotdot
Space Fluff (Instrumental)

Moody pluckage, like the "Breeze and I" or something. I can't decide if I hate this or love it.

Popeye Twist dotdotdotdot
Cartoon Rock (Instrumental)

It's the theme from Popeye, all spaced out and carnival atmosphere. Thick and really bizarre. Too cool.

Telstar dotdotdotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

This is it, the Tornados signature hit. Brilliantly filled with damped plucking, rhythmic churn, and whirring space. Joe Meek wrote this tune. It is utterly unique in the annals of rock. Meek was the UK master of thick completely filled sound, compressed until totally flat, and very cool. This 1962 release has been done by a bazillion surf bands. A must have for any serious instro fan. It is the Tornados signature tune.

Jungle Fever dotdotdotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

This was the B-side of "Telstar." It is beyond great. The compression is as much an instrument as any band member's implement of acoustic slaughter. Thick and utterly undynamic (the meters just sit there at zero VU plus-or-minus 1 dB), this is a masterwork of layered sound. The jungle noises, the growling organ, even the male chorus is superb. There is not another track like this anywhere.

Globetrotter dotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

Organic thick pop sludge, with a melody that hints of "Venus In Blue Jeans," while being pretty darn syrupy under the dull roar. very strange sounding track.

Locomotion With Me dotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

Among the rare tracks from the Tornados with vocals, even if only a chorus. The organ sound is not as interesting as others, but the drums are more drum like and distinct.

Robot dotdotdotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

Talk about amazing! "Robot" opens with just about the best reverb kicks and deep crackling effects anywhere, then promptly evolves into a thick and dark stompin' monster.

Life On Venus dotdotdot
Space MOR (Instrumental)

Space sounds, a news flash about sounds from Venus, and then a typical Tornados tune, melodic and a mix of MOR and space sludge. Amazing.

The Ice Cream Man dotdotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

What a grand concept! Childlike joy at the sound of the ice cream truck delivered in the cold sterile environ of the asteroid belt. Marvelously melodic and playful, thick and powerful.

Theme From 'The Scales Of Justice' dotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

MOR and thick organ production, whirling like tape flutter used as art. Like a mall organ for the carnival.

Dragonfly dotdotdot
Space MOR (Instrumental)

Plucky and heavy, with guitar lead and a solid MOR melody line. Both gentle and thick, playful and thunderous.

Hymn For Teenagers dotdot
Space MOR (Instrumental)

MOR teeny bopper slush, whistling organ and brushed drums.

Hot Pot dotdotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

Like an alternate tack of "Jungle Fever," this track sports a reverbed lead guitar and a plucky rhythm guitar. More rhythmic than melodic, still it's a weird blending of Joe Meek space rock and surf. Very cool!

Joystick dotdotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

Playful Johnny and the Hurricanes sounding thing, organ led and choppy. If Joe Meek had produced Johnny and the Hurricanes, they'd have sounded like this, though Dave Yorko's guitar never sounded like this.

Monte Carlo dotdotdot
Holiday Rock (Instrumental)

Whistlin' holiday theme song, rolling tour bus anthem, almost churchy. Excellent guitar tone and harp plucking.

Blue, Blue, Blue Beat dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Pretty darn fluffy and dismissible, despite Joe Meek's production and the band's sparkle. Reggae fluff, pretty and retirement home bound. Reggae fluff, pretty and retirement home bound.

Exodus dotdotdotdot
Mall Rock (Instrumental)

What a weird cover this is! Dramatic, cheesy, and very VERY weird. It's a cross between the mall organ salesman (Korla Pandit) and the wonderful world of Pink Floyd. Totally unique.

Blackpool Rock dotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Whistlin' and a swirlin'... bouncy and simple, and on the weak side from a rock perspective.

Granada dotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Pomp and circumstance abound as the Tornados cover Los Relampagos (I think) doing this standard. Chunky and spunky, yet fluidly soft, while menacing the calm.

Early Bird dotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Rockets launch "Early Bird" into orbit. Harkening back to some of the post "Telstar" singles, "Early Bird" is tuff, yet sports a lightweight melody that's frothy, without being wimpy. Quite interesting.

Stompin' Through The Rye dotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

"Comin' Through The Rye" gets the compression treatment at the Joe Meek factory, and becomes quite a spunky rocker. The "Rockin' Goose" sax sound and the rich guitar just add to the mystery. It's amazing how simple traditional melodies can be rocked out!

Stingray dotdotdotdot
Space Surf (Instrumental)

This single sports bubbling water, near surf guitar, a fluid melody, and that trademark Tornados space rock darkness. It's been a fave for a very long time.

Aqua Marine dotdotdot
Space Surf (Instrumental)

Slow and kinda MOR sultry, yet spooky and aquatic. This is hard to dislike, yet fluffy and smooth. "Aqua Marine" was the B-side of "Stingray."

Pop Art Goes Mozart dotdotdot
Classical Weirdness (Instrumental)

Warped organ, harpsichord strangitude, mall organ quaint. Way odd, in a catchy sorta way.

Is That A Ship I Hear dotdotdot
Aquatic Weirdness (Instrumental)

First time on CD reissue, "Is That A Ship I Hear" sports an Indian beat, ringing chords, and the weirdest under water bubbly guitar ever, created by extreme tape flutter intentionally induced at uneven meter and intervals. Hokey, but so unusual that it gets the nod.

Do You Come Here Often dotdotdot
Weirdness (Instrumental)

With a line like "Do You Come Here Often" and a warbly tape treatment on the organ, it's not likely you're going home with anyone. Totally tweaked out, yet attractive in a disturbed way.

Dreamin' On A Cloud dotdotdot
Space MOR (Instrumental)

MOR fluff, eerie elevator music, dark and dangerous when the elevator gets stuck.

Red Roses And A Sky Of Blue dotdotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Plucky MOR fluff, like Paul Mauriat or someone, but more intense. It floats along OK, but sure is fluffy.

Earthy dotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

Plucky and thick with a fluffy organ line and round guitar tone. Joe Meek had a knack for making simple ideas seem complex through his wall of sound, which he applied here with compressors on 10.

Ridin' The Wind dotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

In this highly melodic and thickly produced wall-of-noise masterpiece, earthly floating happiness cohabits with the darkly brooding expanses of space. Infectious and almost pretty, if any Joe Meek production can be so characterized.

The US version is much more like "Telstar" aurally than the lighter UK version.

Chasing Moonbeams dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Punchy bouncy MOR... infectious in a commercial jingle kinda way... can't stand the fluff.

Theme From 'A Summer Place' dotdotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Exotic birds calling, swirly keys and guitars shimmering, and a slow shiny arrangement of the MOR classic.

Swinging Beefeater dotdotdot
Space MOR (Instrumental)

Sounding like the backtrack to the Honeycombs' "Have I The Right" in character, "Swinging Beefeater" is gutsy, yet floaty MOR.

The Breeze And I dotdotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

This fine song gets a lot of action, but none like this. Sparkling guitar work, echoed and dark, with damped and open contrasts, and that trademark dark grumbly thundering swirl. Very unusual treatment.

All The Stars In The Sky dotdotdot
Space MOR (Instrumental)

"All The Stars In The Sky" is a Joe Meek composition launched off of the "Telstar" idea. Not as powerful and much more poppy, its lilting melody and thick textures work together to create a watery view of the cosmos.

Indian Brave dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a mighty flippant number, like a carnival sideshow hoe-down. Weird, but not remarkable, though some bright spots in the guitar lines do shine.

Flycatcher dotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

"Willie and the Hand Jive" rhythms and churning organ... more than MOR, less than rock.

Dreams Do Come True dotdotdot
Teen Beat (Instrumental)

Teen dreaming fluff. The melody is pretty, but much of the sound is sock hop weird at best.

Lullaby For Gulia dotdotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Like an ice cream man coming for your aging gramma, "Lullaby For Gulia" bounces and flits across the ears like a mindless Sunday at the amusement park.

Costa Monger dotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

Bouncy and flirty in a popcorn vendor kinda way, this whistle accompanied number is silly and playful. Too MOR for me.

Lonely Paradise dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Like a light weight "Telstar," this tune whistles and weirds its way through the swirl of teen romance. Wistful and yet endearing.

Chattanooga Choo Choo dotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

Amazingly enough, the rockabilly guitar work and mall organ do wonders with this big band standard. Too funny.

Alan's Tune dotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

With a railroad shuffle beat and a plucky lead guitar, this has an almost Baja Marimba Band feel to it, though certainly none of the sound there of. A bit too contrived for my taste.

Cootenanny dot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

"Cootenanny," as in old coot and nanny. This slow stomp is a flyweight compared to "Telstar."

Night Rider dotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

A horse whinnies and then rides off just before the almost chorus sounding organ comes in. Like a cross between a mall organ and a carnival, this seems to have an unreal quality, while also seeming to fit into the elevator just fine.

Life On Venus dotdotdot
Space MOR (Instrumental)

Space sounds, a news flash about sounds from Venus, and then a typical Tornados tune, melodic and a mix of MOR and space sludge. Amazing.

Telstar
Adult Contemporary Space Rock (Instrumental)

I don't know the vintage of this, but it's sure NOT from the band's heyday wit Joe Meek. Nearly adult contemporary!