Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Viscounts - Harlem Nocturne - The Rockin' Sax Sound Of The Viscountsdotdotdotdot
artworkStylus is not a legit label, but their releases keep getting better and better. Harlem Nocturne - The Rockin' Sax Sound Of The Viscounts is much better sounding than the CD issue on Vulture. The tracks are restored and remastered, resulting in a much more accurate and pleasing sound. Also here is the long version of "Harlem Nocturne," from which the single edit was cut.
Picks: Harlem Nocturne, Chug-A-Lug, Dig, September Song, The Touch, Summertime, Viscount Rock, Along The Navajo Trail, When The Saints Go Marching In, So Slow, Wabash Blues, This Place, Shadrach, Opus 1, Sophisticated Lady, Mark's Mood, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, Night Flight, A Girl Like You, Night For Love, Ballin' The Jack, Harlem Nocturne

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 dotdotdotdot
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.

So Slow dotdotdot
Foggy Night (Instrumental)

Saucy slowed down moodiness, this was the B-side of "Wabash Blues." The growling organ under the harmonized sax-guitar duet provides a moody backdrop for a foggy night on the docks. The guitar in the break sports adequate reverb... quite cool.

Wabash Blues dotdotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

This single track starts out slow, moody, almost churchy, but suddenly drops into a raging sax monster that shreds mightily. Its stellar presurf combo instro wail is driven the the nasty sax and an almost surf guitar tone.

This Place dotdotdotdot
Moody (Instrumental)

This original acetate demo is sorta in the style of "Harlem Nocturne," but more jazzy and detectivist, less shimmering and moody. The scenery is like an epilog to their earlier sound. Still, it's damn swell.

Shadrach dotdotdot
Northwest Style (Instrumental)

The sax is nasty enough, the guitar floats on a jazz pillow, and the organ has that Wailers growl. Like many a northwest single to follow, this track is a progression and a bunch of fun.

Little Brown Jug dotdotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

This big band arrangement of "Little Brown Jug" has been pared down to the bare essentials. Honkin', rockin' just fun. A jam.

Opus 1 dotdotdotdotdot
King Of Hawaii 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!

Sophisticated Lady dotdotdotdot
Bubbly Euro 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.

Mark's Mood dotdotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

Ultra dirty, dangerous and almost middle eastern, this is a sultry number in the "Harlem Nocturne" mold with the feel of a harem. Yikes.

When Johnny Comes Marching Home dotdotdotdot
Near 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.

Night Flight dotdotdotdot
Bachelor Pad (Instrumental)

Exotic percussion and moody bass work, beatnik cadence, and suave womanizing... all the elements of a bachelor pad film of the late sixties. Excellent.

A Girl Like You dotdotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Saucy sax 'n' roll, soothing and nasty, and without a doubt, shimmering. Like a more R&B based take on the "Harlem Nocturne" theme, this is quite dramatic. The toms are tribal, and the sound primal.

Night For Love dotdotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

With percussion that straddles the line between the caravan harem and the Las Vegas runway, this stellar tune is simply magical. It shimmers, it writhes and undulates, and it grabs you.

Ballin' The Jack dotdotdotdot
Dramatic Pre Surf (Instrumental)

A standard R&B based rock jam with really fast powerhouse drums. Pretty cool. The double picked guitar adds a sense of the surf, as does the reverb.

Harlem Nocturne dotdotdotdot
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.