Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Viscounts - Harlem Nocturnedotdotdotdotdot
artworkThis is the original Madison release of The Viscounts' album, which includes the amazing five minute original take of "Harlem Nocturne."

The Viscounts were quite a band in their day. They were Bobby Spievak - guitar, Joe Spievak - bass, Larry Vecchio - keyboards, Harry Haller - sassy sax, and Clark Smith - drums. The Viscounts' lone 1959 hit was a cover of "Harlem Nocturne." This album was originally issued in 1960, but was reissued in 1966. The label, Amy was the sister label to Mala (Ronnie & the Daytonas), and was owned Bell Records. "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.
Picks: Harlem Nocturne, Chug-A-Lug, Dig, September Song, The Touch, Viscount Rock, Along The Navajo Trail, When The Saints Go Marching In

Track by Track Review


Harlem Nocturne dotdotdotdotdot
Rock (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 the original recording, which clocks in at five and a-half minutes, something virtually unheard of in 1959! The extra verses include some very different guitar and sax lines. While not as shimmering clean as the 45 edit or the Amy re-recording, this is by far the most genuine. 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
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
Polynesian Euro 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
Euro 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.

The Touch dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"The Touch" is a lot like Harlem Nocturne arrangement wise, but with a little less emotional shimmer. Sultry, saucy, and hot in their signature slow grind style with raw sax and tremolo guitar over exotic drums and bass. It was left off the Amy release of the album.

Night Train dotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

From the first time James Brown morphed this standard into a rock 'n' roll classic, it's been a part of the scenery of rock. This is a solid, if not predictable version.

Summertime
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

George Gershwin's grand standard, played slow and sultry, and arrange most successfully like "Harlem Nocturne." Extreme sax edge, raspy and dirty, and dramatic as Hell with their trademark vibrato guitar and back alley sound. Really cool.

Viscount Rock dotdotdotdot
Euro 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.

Along The Navajo Trail dotdotdotdot
Tuxedo 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.

When The Saints Go Marching In dotdotdotdot
Mystical Surf (Instrumental)

Slow and sinewy, reminding me of Jade Warrior's "Snow Queen," with it's metered artful melody line and oriental flair. It has a quiet drama, and a sense of well being slightly overshadowed by a passing sadness. This is simply stunning.