Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Ventures - New Depths (Wild Again Vol 2)dotdotdot
artworkIt's been a long time since the Ventures have made a really good disc. Most have little life, or just a few good tracks. Somehow or other, they found their electric Viagra®, and have put together a mostly solid CD of new material, with the help of a few friends. At least, that's how it starts out. As you go down the track list, they start to get ordinary, then dismissible, and finally you wonder why-oh-why? They are the chameleons of rock, but do they have to bury their sizable playing talent under bad arranging? The Ventures on this disc: Bob Bogle - lead guitar, Don Wilson - rhythm guitar, Jerry McGee - bass, Leon Taylor - drums. With the Rice Girls singing, "Kanari Kiteru Koi" is just cute, but the glissandos are cool.
Picks: Hurricane, Drums A Go-Go, Bombora, Hot Doggin', Calhoun Surf, Banzai Pipeline, Web Surfin', Time Is Tight, Stop The Music, Spanish Armada, I Fought The Law, Hideaway, Cry For A Shadow, Blue Dawn, Peter Gunn, Flower Of The Sun, Axel F. / Miami Vice, Trailblazer, Wipe Out 2017

Track by Track Review

Hurricane dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Really cool guitar licks on the second guitar remind me a lot of the Bambi Molesters. This stunning original powers the infectiometer to 10 with great rhythms and guitar lines. Remarkably friendly track.

Drums A Go-Go dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"And you're educated? You don't know SHIT!" So says the New Yorker in the opening. This is a playful track, with punches and cries interspersed, early eighties Dick Dale-isms on the guitar, and a dominant organ role.

Bombora dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Stompin' fifties progression surf churn. Pure party fun, driven by a pint or two for sure, with flying drum solos and splashy guitar chords, and a final reverb kick.

Hot Doggin' dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A mighty surfy power driven cover of Lee Hazelwood's classic. The arrangement is Astronauts amped up, with haunting organ rightly coolly supporting the mix with just enough level to create an atmospheric leap forward for this over covered tune. Totally infectious and a cut above the rest, except for maybe the Neon Spores and Cruncher's version.

Calhoun Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Quasimodo" is an utterly happy melody with a fluffy surf sound and an inevitable friendly face. It grows on you (but so do warts). It's got this almost childlike quality that you want to dislike but can't. Way fun.

Banzai Pipeline dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Henry "Hodad" Mancini wrote this, the Astronauts surfed it up, the retro lounge crowd suaved it into your livingroom, and now the Ventures reconstituted the beat from detective to rock. This arrangement is quite different than any others around, less lounge lizard and more surf-rock. Bob Bogle's flying double picking is inspired to say the least. The keys are suitably ambient in the mix. Jeff Baxter's guitar lead overdubs seem superfluous.

Web Surfin' dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This slightly oriental original would be way cool a little wetter (personal preference). It's a melodic riff over a standard surf beat. More spirited than some, this is a solid track with a friendly sound, and a cool rhythm. Some of the damped plucking is really cool.

Time Is Tight dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Expecting whammy action? Nope, just fine double picked surf action and infectious playfulness. Traditionally structured. The lead guitar tone is quite round.

Stop The Music dotdotdot
European (Instrumental)

This is a fairly European sounding melody, and didn't stick in RAM after listening. Nice, but unremarkable.

Spanish Armada dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A chorded Spanish influenced number with great double picked guitar parts and a more playful dryer guitar line as well. The track seems to bounce between the surf and the beach snack shack. Very fun and quite unusual.

I Fought The Law dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tribal drums, choppy chords, stompin' progression, and chunky attack. Double picked single note rages, and then a heck of a lot of power. It's amazing what can be done without melody... I usually dislike this sort of thing, but this is good.

Hideaway dotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

Freddie Kings' R&B classic is played with reverence and suavité. Smooth and fluid.

Cry For A Shadow dotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

The Beatles' only instro, played with that 1965 Japan Ventures sound, is just pleasant. Nothing special happening, except for the drum work.

Blue Dawn dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Bob Spalding plays lead on this Wilson-Bogle-Spalding original. It's a fluid, not quite Euro melody piece with a South Pacific feel. Excellent listening, warm and well played.

Peter Gunn dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Nasty with calm, restrained mean, maybe even diet evil. The detective lite approach is really quite effective. "Peter Gunn" takes on a whole new flavor. The seventies guitar hero break guitar doesn't work for me.

Flower Of The Sun dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Slightly soothing tone, delicate glissandoes, and a Euro-Oriental melody. A nice track with Jerry McGee and Bob Bogle dueling on lead guitar.

Axel F. / Miami Vice dotdot
Disco (Instrumental)

Then, after a really strong beginning to this CD, this throwback to their plastic inevitable vinyl pants period reminds you that they are the chameleons of rock. The percussion is cool in the break.

Trailblazer dotdot
Chameleon (Instrumental)

This smooth track falls into several camps, with surf glissandoes, rock elevator guitar tones, and an MOR chorus, it can't quite decide what it is.

Wipe Out 2017 dotdot
Biker (Instrumental)

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