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The Ventures

Beach Party

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve been a fan of this band since I was a little kid. I can remember buying cassette tapes and vinyl of theirs whenever I’d find it at garage sales. I later graduated to newer rock music, but this surf guitar stuff (and particularly this band) has always occupied a special place in my heart. This new reissue of their Beach Party album is actually pretty massive. It includes the entire original albums. That makes up the first twelve songs here. After that there are 22 more tunes from different Ventures albums and singles. Two songs at the end feature other artists doing “Walk Don’t Run.” This is a great set for fans of the band. I should mention that I had previously reviewed two of the songs here when I reviewed the Walk Don’t Run album. For the sake of consistency those track reviews have been modified from that review for use here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Lucille

I love the string bending guitar work on this old school rock and roll based number. It’s a classy tune start to finish.

Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes)
In a bit of an oddity for this act, this cut has some cool rock and roll vocals. There are some great instrumental moments here, too. This is a fun piece really. I love the little drum fills, and even the little drum solo at the end.
Hernando's Hideaway
There is a bit of a secret agent vibe to this cool piece. Yes, it gets a bit of a Latin element, too.
Mashed Potato Time
Vocals are heard on this song, singing “mashed potatoes.” This is another fun rock and roller. It really has a lot of old time rock and roll and some country built into it. Yet, it’s all delivered with the typical kind of Ventures surf guitar sound.
Summertime
Guitar is really what The Ventures are all about. So, to say that this song has some guitar interplay that particularly shines really says something. This is one of my favorites on the whole set, really.
Hot Summer (Asian Mashed)
In a lot of ways this reminds me of the theme song to “The Munsters” television show. I dig the bass line on this thing. It’s another great tune on a disc that’s full of them.
Poison Ivy
Another cool Ventures guitar instrumental, this is a great rocker.
The Wah-Watusi
With vocals of the title, this has a lot of old time rock and roll built into it. It’s a cool rocker.
Instant Mashed
I love the old time rock and roll groove on this cut. It’s a lot of fun, really.
Scratch
There is no huge change here. This is just what you expect from the Ventures. That makes it another killer guitar instrumental.
(Baby) Hully Gully
We get some vocals on this rocker. It has the type of guitar you would expect and a bouncy rhythm section.
Spudnik
This is so classy and so much fun. It does have some non-lyrical vocals. I love the cool guitar soloing on the piece, too. There is a weird little slow down at the end.
From The Ventures Play Telstar
                  
Telstar

Starting with the sound of a satellite being launched, this has a lot of organ built into it.

Calcutta
This has a nice melody and some cool non-lyrical vocals.
Apache
I’ve always loved this song. This jam has some great melodies and bits of guitar.
Green Onions
I’m crazy about the Booker T. and the MGs version of this song. This Ventures rendition goes a long way towards selling the song, too. It has organ and those killer guitars.
From Going to the Ventures’ Dance Party
                             
Theme from Come September

I love the shifts and changes on this little number. It’s another fun one for sure.

Venus
The Ventures start this one off in mellow fashion. Then they take it into more of a typical rocking style. The vocal lines delivered on guitar are particularly effective.
The Intruder

I dig the surf sounds we get here. The pitch bends and cool jamming just have such a classic texture. This is another effective piece of music.

Lolita Ya-Ya
There are female vocals delivering “wah wahs,” “ya yas” and “oohs.” This is a mellower kind of tune and not necessarily my thing. It’s not as effective as some of the rest. It’s a bit too doo-wop for my tastes.
From The Ventures Twist / Twist Party 2
                   
Driving Guitars (Ventures Twist)

Now, this is more like it. It’s high energy. It also features some of those “driving guitars.” This is surf music at its best.

Gringo
Here is another cool Ventures instrumental. This has some great guitar interplay and a nice amount of energy.
Besame Mucho
Somehow this makes me think of “Secret Agent Man” just a bit in some of the melodies. It’s another cool cut.
From The Colorful Ventures
                   
Silver City

This bouncy little number feels like something that might have been part of the soundtrack to some 1960s movie to me. There is definitely a Western movie vibe to it.

Blue Moon
There are no big surprises here, just so more classy Ventures music.
From the Ventures
                   
Perfidia

I love this rocker. It’s a lot of fun.

From Another Smash!!!!!
                  
Ginchy

I’m definitely reminded of the “Munsters” theme on this one, too. It’s a high energy guitar tune with a lot of style and class.

From Walk Don’t Run
                   
Home

A slower, mellower tune, this one has a great melody to it.

Walk, Don't Run
This is arguably the most instantly recognizable melody from The Ventures. I loved this song back in the day and I still love it. The drums beating around in the background (and often near the front of the mix) are great and this piece is just so catchy.
Singles, Etc.
                         
2,000 Pound Bee (Part 1)

The distorted sound at the start of this is cool. There is almost a Ventures do Blue Cheer kind of vibe to this smoking hot rocker.

2,000 Pound Bee (Part 2)
Although the melodies are different here, this has that same distorted sound. It’s perhaps not as crunchy as the previous tune, but it’s still more distorted than the clean sound I’m used to from the Ventures. It’s perhaps even more of a powerhouse tune than the its predecessor was.
Genesis
There are symphonic strings and a lot of other elements at play here. This is definitely a different sound for the band. Yes, it’s a bit overproduced, but it’s also some good variety. It’s just plain interesting, really.
Walk, Don't Run (Johnny Smith)
This is the original version of the famous cut. It has a bit of a jazz edge to it.
Walk, Don't Run (Chet Atkins)
A mellow kind of jazz guitar groove is all over this version of the classic. It is a great jam.This is actually the version on which The Ventures based their arrangement.
 
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