Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Ventures - Surfingdotdotdot
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 were sax or keyboard lead, with guitars relegated to rhythm roles and occasional leads during the 30 second breaks. This is a pretty good best-of package, with only a few dogs.
Picks: Pipeline, The Ninth Wave, Hawaii Five-0, Perfidia, Walk, Don't Run, Walk, Don't Run '64, The Lonely Bull, Let's Go, Sukiyaki, Cruisin' Machine, Diamonds, Windy And Warm, Ten Over, Surf Rider, Changing Tides, Bulldog, Showdown At Newport, Surfin' and Spyin', The Moon Of Manakoora, Torquay, Party In Laguna, Barefoot Venture, The Heavies, Cruncher, The Lonely Sea, Flashback, Yozora No Hashi, Secret Agent Man, Penetration, Don't Blame On Me

Track by Track Review


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.

The Ninth Wave dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track was a single c/w "Damaged Goods." Not exactly a surf tune, but infectious and rhythmic none the less. "The Ninth Wave" is chunky and almost crunchy, with the feel of the waves and a fairly dry sound.

Hawaii Five-0 dotdotdot
TV Surf (Instrumental)

Often covered TV theme song from the chameleons of instro rock from the 1968 TV series.

Perfidia dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is the followup to "Walk, Don't Run," in the same style and equally infectious. The lead is less up front, but the warmth of the whammy makes this an excellent pre-surf track. Great drums and picking. The combo really comes together in this track.

Walk, Don't Run dotdotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is essential. The Ventures were one of the two bands that served as the model for early surf bands, the other being the Fireballs. This was their first single, and is an absolute standard. It was based on the early fifties Chet Atkins arrangement. This is their signature tune, a solid and enduring cover of Johnny Smith's jazz classic. Rhythmic, solid as a rock, and very warm with pre-surf whammy. Only the Pink Fairies' vocal version is better than this. Great classic pre surf.

"Walk, Don't Run" and "Perfidia" were recorded a year before there was such a thing as surf music. Totally vintage and majorly important to the birth of surf, this Ventures single is still their hallmark and best effort. Every collection requires this track.

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.

The Lonely Bull dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Attempting to come too close to the Tijuana Brass sound, this guitar band gives the lead duties over to horns, and adds the chorus as well. Like Billy Strange meets Bert Kempfert.

Let's Go dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is your typical Ventures track, a pop hit molded into their format... They've been successful at producing covers of other artists hits for 40 years - can't knock that.

Sukiyaki dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

This is a pretty and fluffy arrangement of one of the first Japanese / American cross over hits.

Cruisin' Machine dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a really nice tune with an open road feel and appropriately round guitar tone. The break is a little MOR, but overall, this is a pleasant track.

Diamonds dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A light weight version of the tune done so well by Jet Harris and Tony Meehan. Much too thin, and the chorus is unnecessary.

Windy And Warm dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

John D. Loudermilk's "Windy And Warm" is done with a grin, as it must be. It's so dry, it doesn't fall into the surf camp as other covers have. Still, it's a tasty track, with a friendly feel.

Ten Over dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A landlocked surf tune with whammy and a stop-start beat, A little too herky jerky and unmelodic.

Surf Rider 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!

Changing Tides dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The sounds of the sea open this soft shimmering vibrato piece. Its not quite as fluid as "The Lonely Sea," but it is pretty. The lead work is quite delicate against a tepid backtrack.

Bulldog dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

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

Showdown At Newport dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A lot like "Surfin' & Spyin'" (its B-side when it was a single), but more Venturistic. This is a rhythmic and crunchy eighties pop surf oriented number with magnetism. Among the better modern era Ventures tracks, with guitar work that holds your attention. The melody is like a sideways "Comin' Home Baby."

Surfin' and Spyin' dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of the better tracks from the modern era Ventures, this fine tune features the chorus support of the Go-Go's, who also recorded this song. Infectious riff rocking surf oriented eighties power instro.

The Moon Of Manakoora dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Shimmering slowly moving scenes of island lagoons a full moon... quite picturesque and very pretty, like a minor version of "Adventures In Paradise."

Torquay dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The Ventures pay homage to the Fireballs, the other two guitar-bass-drums combo making hit records. This is much less surfy and more playful than the original. I'm not sure that's an improvement, but it shows both reverence and originality.

Party In Laguna dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is actually the Champs' "Tequila" recut. Nothing to write home about.

Barefoot Venture dotdotdot
Fuzz and Surf (Instrumental)

Fuzz and surf in a fairly typical fifties format, sax break and all. It's infectious in a neighborhood surf band kinda way, with chunky rhythm and lots of fun. The feel is a little like a softer Nobles track.

The Heavies dot
Rock (Instrumental)

Just so-so rock format choppy instro fare. Not interesting.

Cruncher dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Infectious Sandy Nelson style minimal guitar licks fronting what is essentially a drum record. Tribal and pretty fun.

The Lonely Sea dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This splendid island breeze classic is so friendly... and so Polynesian... and just so cool! melodic and a pure joy to listen to. Really well written and well played.

Flashback dotdotdotdot
Japanese Surf (Instrumental)

This is very cool instro that straddles the line between surf and Japanese melody structures. Thrashy glissandoes and a smooth lead line, with excellent drums and an infectious rhythm.

Yozora No Hashi dotdotdotdot
Japanese Surf (Instrumental)

fast and pumped, and in the same mode as "Flashback," this rolls with a sense of purpose, surf ahead, and great rumbling bass, punctuated with speedy growling glissandoes.

Secret Agent Man dotdotdot
TV Surf (Instrumental)

Another TV theme "Venturized" in the formula that became the "sound" of the Ventures... girl chorus, all too familiar covers, and adoring fans. Johnny Rivers version is way better.

Penetration dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This misses the point of the original. The added slide accents detract from the melody, giving it a silly air. The arrangement is otherwise pretty close to the Pyramids, except for the addition of the girl chorus.

Don't Blame On Me dot
Southern Rock (Instrumental)

Bordering on Southern rock disco, "Don't Blame On Me" sports a well written melody, but is arranged in a very commercial way, especially as the chorus chimes in.