Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Ventures - Radical Guitarsdotdotdot
artworkThis CD compiles Japanese only releases from the Ventures, cut in the eighties. It features two unlisted tracks not on the vinyl release. Some good stuff, some stiffs.
Picks: Ginza Ska, Pike, Ride On Try, Washington Square, Movin', Le Dernier Train, The 2000 Pound Bee, Mushuku, Bumble Bee, Theme From No Smoking, Three, Three and Nine Times, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Nut Rocker, California Dreamin'

Track by Track Review


Ginza Ska dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This delicately echoed number speaks to the Japanese fan base of the Ventures. The melody is oriental in nature, and the ska-like back track gives it a surreal air. Dry tone, and very well done.

Pike dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Organ underpinned, and very eighties sounding, like something out of a Cowboys International daydream. Definitely oriental. It's an oddly intriguing track.

Ride On Try dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Glissandoes and a thin guitar, whammy and a forgettable riff. The whammy and glissandoes are cool, but in the same way that Summer Breeze did their tracks.

Washington Square dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The damped plucking of the second guitar is nifty, and the ska backtrack is cool too. The lead is really thin.

Movin'
Surf (Instrumental)

It's amazing how similar in arrangement this is to the Summer Breeze version. I don't know who was there first... In any event, this is a fairly interesting, though tepid version of the Lee Hazelwood classic.

Le Dernier Train dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a splendid track. It resides somewhere between Euro guitar instro and surf. It has an infectious melody and a solid arrangement. It doesn't sound even remotely French, though the title suggests it.

The 2000 Pound Bee dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

They've done this a million times. Bobby Fuller and many others covered it. It's still just a low-E riff rocker. This take is fairly thick and grodie for the Ventures.

Mushuku dotdot
Disco (Instrumental)

Cheesy eighties Casio keys and Euro pop bass take this pleasant melody into the realm of MOR/disco.

Bumble Bee dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Flight Of The Bumble Bee," cut once again by the Ventures. It still works only for them. I don't know why no one else can make this stick, but it seems it requires the sterile studio approach and musicianship only they can muster. Too fun.

Theme From No Smoking dotdot
Eighties Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Surf rhythm guitar, eighties disco keyboard bass, and a warm melody... I can't get behind it.

Three, Three and Nine Times dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Hand claps and funk wah-wah, and an overused Ventures' whammy...

Somewhere Over The Rainbow dotdotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

"Somewhere Over The Rainbow" is very well phrased, but definitely targeted at octogenarians.

Nut Rocker dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Nut Rocker" is not listed on the sleeve. This is a pretty fun guitar treatment of the classic B. Bumble & the Stingers' rethinking of the "Nutcracker Suite." Very cool track.

California Dreamin' dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"California Dreamin'" is not listed on the sleeve. It's a tame rendering of the Mama's & the Papas' syrupy summer of love folk rock hit. It lacks Lou Addler's production and warmth. It seems to me to be hotel lounge fair.