Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Ventures - Walk, Don't Run c/w S/Tdotdotdot
artworkThe first two Ventures albums, couple as a two-fer, and presenting the emerging legends in their original concept sound. Don Wilson and Bob Bogle worked as a duo before forming the band. In the same manner as Paul Johnson and Eddie Bertrand, the two developed close guitar interplay. Becoming a band with the addition of Nokie Edwards and Howie Johnson in February of 1960 completed the first leg of a very long journey. This sound, along with the Fireballs, Duane Eddy, and Link Wray would become the primary influence in the next year when surf music began. These two albums are necessary rock instro history.
Picks: Morgen, Raunchy, Home, My Own True Love [Tara's Theme], The Switch, Walk, Don't Run, Night Train, No Trespassing, Caravan, Sleep Walk, The McCoy, Honky Tonk, The Shuck, Detour, Ram-Bunk-Shush, Hawaiian War Chant, Perfidia, Harlem Nocturne, Blue Tango, Ups 'N' Downs, Lonesome Town, Torquay, Wailin', The Moon Of Manakoora

Track by Track Review

Morgen dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This German pop hit is played well in the style and sound of the early ventures. It's a melodic piece, imported as a hit to the US in 1959 or 1960. Moderate MOR guitar.

Raunchy dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Bill Justis' classic guitar-sax hit delivered solely by guitar. It's fast and way fun. These guys have always had a knack for doing other people's hits, and this is among the better covers from this early period.

Home dotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Slow slinky prom music for the ladies' choice dance. Pretty but unremarkable.

My Own True Love [Tara's Theme] dotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Another really slow and pretty piece, with shimmering vibrato guitar and a romantic melody.

The Switch dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"The Switch" is a rockin' jam in the late fifties progression style, choppy and percussive, with great drums and the "Tequila" chord progression. Quite fun.

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.

Night Train dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a very tamed down version of the classic tune James Brown made such a rock 'n' soul staple. Very soft and small combo jazzy.

No Trespassing dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Based strongly on the "Walk, Don't Run" arrangement, this simple riff number is not as strong. It does sport a near-surf damped rhythm guitar, but the lead is quite subdued. There are bits of "Memphis" here, as well as other hits du jour.

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.

Sleep Walk dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This song just doesn't work without the lap steel. I'll stick to Santo & Johnny.

The McCoy dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

With a slight Indian flair in the guitar tone, this is otherwise a jam waiting for a melody.

Honky Tonk dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Bill Dogget's sax hit, nicely arranged for guitar, though pretty tame.

The Shuck dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"The Shuck" is an MOR-country tune that is very nonintrusive, and equally unremarkable.

Detour dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a spirited rendition of the Duane Eddy B-side. It's got a great shuffle beat and full low-E lead tone. Excellent picking.

Ram-Bunk-Shush dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Ram-Bunk-Shush" is a guitar boogie, infectious and fun to play. The call and response in the lead lines is a really nice feature of this tune.

Hawaiian War Chant dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a low-key low note tribal arrangement of the "Hawaiian War Chant," with a wrong key sound and sadness. Infectious and strange.

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.

Harlem Nocturne dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Earl Hagen's classic track made a rock instro standard by the Viscounts is very nicely done here. It's not raw like the Viscounts version. It's very pretty, like a romantic version of an Earl Stanley Gardner novel. Excellent playing, subtle and small combo jazzy.

Blue Tango dotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

A fun side trip into guitar tango land. Very nice guitar work.

Ups 'N' Downs dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Like a gypsy noodle on a burro, this is a rhythmic and very cool number. It seems to sneak into the shoes while you're out of them, then infiltrate by osmosis through the soles of your feet while you obliviously stroll down the street. Really nice infectious track.

Lonesome Town dotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Ricky Nelson's slow sad ballad, played slowly and smoothly.

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.

Wailin' dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This tune is from fellow Seattleites the Wailers. It's a jam, fast and furious.

The Moon Of Manakoora dotdotdot
MOR Rock (Instrumental)

Shimmering vibrato, slow and sad, and very pretty.