Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Viscounts - Featuring Harlem Nocturne And Night Traindotdotdotdotdot
artworkNew Jersey's Viscounts were a very cool band. Their signature shimmering guitar was played by Bobby Spievak, his brother Joe Spievak played bass, Larry Vecchio played organ, Harry Haller's sassy sax made the nasty quotient rise, and Clark Smith's drums brought in a sleazy tribal foundation. The Viscounts' one 1959 hit was a cover of "Harlem Nocturne." This album was originally issued in 1959, and reissued in 1960 and again in 1966 on Amy. "Harlem Nocturne" was written by Earl Hagen, a man whose name appeared on many television theme songs as writer. His sense of melody and sultry style were unsurpassed. The version of "Harlem Nocturne" here is slightly different from the single.
Picks: Harlem Nocturne, Chug-A-Lug, I Cover The Waterfront, Dig, September Song, Opus 1, Le Grisbi (The Touch), Viscount Rock, Summertime, Along The Navajo Trail, Sophisticated Lady, When Johnny Comes Marching Home

Track by Track Review


Harlem Nocturne dotdotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

The Viscounts' spectacular 1959 hit was a cover of "Harlem Nocturne" was reissued again in 1960 and 1966 after selling out of the first pressing. It features the very intense and sultry sax of Harry Haller, which drives this track with the danger of a back alley. The throbbing vibrato guitar adds to the ominous sound. This is one magnificent track.

Chug-A-Lug dotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is an early Neal Hefty (Bat Man television theme, Munsters, etc.) tune. It is very surfy for a presurf tune. Military drums, vibrato, guitar lead, great sax lines, and splendid spirit.

I Cover The Waterfront dotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This country classic has been garaged into submission, twanged into twilight. Wish I could place the name of it, but it escapes me now. Anyway, it's a fun party kinda hoe-down.

Dig dotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

What a pretty track. The Hawaiian steel second guitar sets the ambiance against which this fine melody is displayed. The melody hints of a haole on big island... splendid. Great tone and a catchy melody, and pristine performance and sound.

September Song dotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very Shadows-like tune, glimmering with great tremolo, and an understated delivery. The sounds are beautiful. The fluid melody line is more than friendly, with lush romantic flows, and a lilting innocence that drops your guard and makes instant friends. Very satisfying.

Opus 1 dotdotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

High spirited, almost King of Hawaii like in melody structure and pacing. This is a spectacular track. It is infectious, pristine, melodic, and very fun. It has a kinder-gentler Cruel Sea break, a divine friendliness, and a full round sound. The whammy dips are cool, and any would proud to have created this. Absolutely great!

Le Grisbi (The Touch) dotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Jean Wiener's MOR standard turned small smoky club combo sleazy by this fine band. Throbbing and cool.

Viscount Rock dotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Fine acoustically second guitar supports a slow country two-step sensibility and a Shadows soul. Like formal country, if there can be such an oxymoronic genre. Very pretty.

Summertime dotdotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Cowboys ridin' with chaps flapping and scarves flying in the breeze. This is just so wonderful. Is this in the Mermen's set these days? I think so. Rhythmic, infectious, brilliantly structured, playful, and artful. , Instantly creates a bond with your inner cowboy (or cowgirl). Yee-ha!

Along The Navajo Trail dotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is a mighty pretty tune, with haunted keys, and a formal air, like a sophisticated upper crust afternooner on the South lawn, a minuet for the great outdoors. Very visual, and very pretty.

Sophisticated Lady dotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Effervescent, slightly hokey, Shadows tonality, and croissants all around. Like a sophisticated line dance, it giggles under the black-and-white garb. Very cool.

When Johnny Comes Marching Home dotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

I can't count the number of times this has been covered by rock bands, from Duane Eddy and the Lancers, to this rousing rocker. Much tougher than most others, it's a honking sax fest with a really dirty rumble-on-the-docks feel. The quieted down slow fade out is quite dramatic.