Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Ventures - Surfin' Deluxedotdotdot
artworkThe Ventures were one of the prototypes for the surf sound, having been among the handful of instrumental bands using a two guitar bass drums lineup. Most other bands of their day were sax or keyboard lead, with guitars relegated to rhythm roles and occasional leads during the 30 second breaks. They are often called a surf band, but they don't consider themselves one (and they are aren't). They did record a few surf tunes, most notably "Diamond Head," and they rearranged their first monster hit record "Walk, Don't Run" into "Walk, Don't Run '64" to become a surf smash. This is a solid cross section of their sixties output.
Picks: Diamond Head, Slaughter On Tenth Avenue, Walk, Don't Run '64, Journey To The Stars, Out Of Limits, Wipe Out, Apache, House Of The Rising Sun, Driving Guitars, Surf Rider [Spudnik], Pipeline, A Taste Of Honey, Fugitive, I Feel Fine, Blue Star, Bulldog, Summertime Blues, Hanky Panky, Yellow Jacket, Caravan

Track by Track Review

Diamond Head dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Danny Hamilton's classic instro, and among the very few surf singles the Ventures issued. Classic.

Slaughter On Tenth Avenue dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the original rock interpretation, and surf to boot. Its hot, powerful, dramatic, and downright infectious. Totally wonderful. This is remarkable, both for its adaptation to the surf idiom, and because of it's power. Wonderful.

Walk, Don't Run '64 dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Ventures had already become the chameleons of rock by the time surf came along a mere few months after they cut "Walk, Don't Run" in 1960. They adapted quickly, morphing their crown jewel tune into a surf classic by adding reverb and glissandoes. It's way fun.

Journey To The Stars dotdotdotdot
Space Surf (Instrumental)

Pumped and deliriously solid, this sports major edge and really fine playing. The thunder is less than the studio track, but the menace is still there. Very strong!

Out Of Limits dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Mike Gordon's most familiar tune, delivered dry with edge. Some really tasty playing from Nokie Edwards.

Wipe Out dotdot
Biker (Instrumental)

Highly uninspired dry rendering of the Surfaris classic. Mel Taylor's drums are way weak when compared to Ron Wilson's.

Apache dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a pretty decent cover of Jerry Lordan's great tune. It's an adaptation of the Jorgen Ingman arrangement. It has less flair than his, but it is a solid track. If you want a hoot sometime, listen to the Sonny James vocal version.

House Of The Rising Sun dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A tame instro treatment of the Animals' hit. Not very strong.

Driving Guitars dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Also called "Ventures Twist," this is among the Ventures more familiar instros, popular in Japan more than the US. It's a progression with spirit and edge. The damped second guitar plucking in the break is very cool. Nice track.

Surf Rider [Spudnik] dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

They called it "Spudnik" on their mashed potato album. The Lively Ones renamed it and made it a surf classic. This is quite dry compared to the Lively Ones' version. It's such a solid piece of writing!

Pipeline dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Ventures recorded "Pipeline" with no reverb, and very uneven glissando meter, plus little of the emotional beauty of the Chantays' original classic. It's a flat-pickers rendition, not particularly interesting.

A Taste Of Honey dotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Too MOR movie theme for me... It's fun, alright, but I don't really get this sort of thing.

Fugitive dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Often covered, this track sports hound dog yelps and a spunky riff. It's a cool track, with excellent arranging and great drums.

I Feel Fine dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Beatles cover... next. It lacks the oomph of their original, and has no particular magnetism either.

Blue Star dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The theme from "Medic" played on steel or bottle necked guitar. It's a nice track, melodic and pretty, but not at all rockin'.

Bulldog dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The Fireballs' hit, rhythmically issued, less damped than the original, slightly drier. Pretty nice track.

Summertime Blues dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Fuzz and all, it approximates the loud-and-ugly of Blue Cheer, scrubbed and made palatable. Weird.

Hanky Panky dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Tommy James & the Shondells' teen lust anthem, swimming with whammy. The song is just a riff, so it gets old real fast.

Yellow Jacket dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Very big in Japan, this is a fine riff based tune, dry and fun.

Caravan dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Not quite as tribal as it would become later for the Ventures, yet very cool. The guitar tone is too subdued for rock, but this small combo arrangement is really nice. Solid drums and infectious rhythm enhance this Duke Ellington classic. A strip joint runway beat, and a shuffling rhythm guitar, and splendid jazzy lead work. This is precision pristine instro rock. Excellent.