The Ventures

Too many albums! Stop! You're killing me! Me!
*special introductory paragraph!
*Walk Don't Run
*The Ventures
*Another Smash!
*The Colorful Ventures
*Twist With The Ventures
*The Ventures Twist Party Vol. 2
*Mashed Potatoes And Gravy
*Going To The Ventures Dance Party
*Telstar And The Lonely Bull
*Bobby Vee Meets The Ventures
*The Country Classics
*Let's Go!
*In Space
*The Fabulous Ventures
*Walk Don't Run Vol. 2
*Knock Me Out
*On Stage
*A Go-Go
*Christmas Album
*Where The Action Is
*Batman Theme
*Go With The Ventures
*Wild Things
*Guitar Freakout
*Super Psychedelics
*$1,000,000 Weekend
*Flights Of Fantasy
*The Horse
*Underground Fire
*More Golden Greats
*Hawaii Five-O
*Swamp Rock
*Golden Pops
*10th Anniversary Album
*New Testament
*Theme From Shaft
*Pops In Japan `71
*Pops In Japan
*Joy - The Ventures Play The Classics
*Rock And Roll Forever
*Only Hits
*The Jim Croce Songbook
*The Ventures Play The Carpenters
*Hollywood Metal Dynamic Sound 3000
*Rocky Road
*T.V. Themes
*In The Vaults
*Latin Album
*The Best Of The Ventures
*Hits! Up To Date
*St. Louis Memory
*Last Album On Liberty
*Movie Themes
*Stars On Guitars
*Wild Again
*New Depths
*In the Vaults Vol. 2
*The Ultimate Collection
*Christmas Joy
*Surfin' To Baja

Nowhere has Mark Prindle's OCD demonstrated itself quite as clearly as in his record collection. Why so many Roxy Music albums? Why EVERY Megadeth album? Does he actually even LIKE these bands? Not really, no. He heard a couple of songs he liked by each and responded by buying up all of their albums willy-nilly as quickly as possible. He did the same with several other shitty bands too, including Motley Crue for Christ's sake. Not that The Ventures are a bad band, mind you, but there's certainly no reason to buy SIXTY-ONE GODDAMNED ALBUMS BY THEM.

So who are the Ventures? Although opinions vary, they're pretty much an instrumental cover band with heavy emphasis on guitars. And by "opinions vary," I mean that most critics give them credit for recording the definitive versions of two or three popular '60s surf instrumentals but deem them worthy of almost no respect, yet they have a core devoted fan base (especially in Japan!) that is certain that they are the most talented and creative rock and roll band ever to grace the face of the Mearth. Me, I try to keep a realist attitude about the whole thing, so let me just say this: The Ventures are pretty much an instrumental cover band with heavy emphasis on guitars. HOWEVER, they are an instrumental cover band that, from 1960 through 1968, put out a wadful of albums that feature some of the most beautiful and breathtaking surf-type guitar I will ever hear. Their guitar tones, their bendy strings, their "digga-digga-digga" ascending reverb thingies - just BEAUTIFUL. I mean, sure they played lots of covers, but they almost always created unique "Venturepretations" of other folks' tunes, shoving them into a context that they weren't really created to be placed into.

However, all was not peaches and herb in the Ventures camp and, with fading popularity roundabouts mid-68 compounded by lead guitarist Nokie Edwards' sudden decision to quit the band to pursue other interests (country music, from what I understand), they began to try desperately to keep current, which resulted in a whole crapload of albums that, though perfectly decent in and of themselves as far as instrumental cover albums go, really had no reason to exist. If the Ventures no longer sounded like the Ventures, why should America bother with them at all? And so they didn't. But Japan did! And Japan continued churning out records for them after American labels wouldn't touch 'em with a one-inch pole. Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself! So after lots of experimentation with hip 70s sounds (disco, funk, adult contemporary), they finally got all four key members back in the band roundabouts '78 and returned to the amazing instrumental surfy rock that they'd perfected back in the 1320s. Then they kept going! And who knows what they did? Just keep readin'! They're an instrumental cover band! I should note here that I stopped doing my web site for three years partly because I couldn't get through the Ventures reviews. This time, I am determined to get through them. Even if it bores me out the window. Please don't let it bore me out the window! No window no die!

At some point in that paragraph, I switched from third-person to first-person. That is the sign of a best-selling author. Stephen King, perhaps.

Walk Don't Run - Dolton 1960.
Rating = 6

Guitar tones are clean and gorgeous from the getgo, with lots of string bends and such. But this was 1960. Four years before the Beatles made rock and know...interesting. So, though there are certainly a few delightful twists of guitar on here worth noting, too many of them are straight blues-scale Chuck Berry-type songs centering around interchangeable guitar solos. Which I suppose might have still seemed novel at the time. But these days it doesn't even seem cheap paperback. PLAY ON WORDS! WHEEEEEEEE!

The title track is incredible, by the way. One of the greatest surf instrumental tunes ever and still the Ventures' chief calling card.

No, I mean seriously. Whenever one of the Ventures needs to make a long distance telephone call, he types in "Walk, Don't Run."

And then he gets a recorded message stating that his call did not go through and asking if he would please hang up and try again. At which point he does, over and over again. Because the Ventures are like nine million years old and probably senile out the ass.
"Walk Don't Run" is one of the best instumentals, however, it's debatable to whether it's really a surf instumental. Especially considering the first "surf" instrumentals didn't come out until '61("Mr. Moto" and "Let's Go Trippin").

Stupid Beatles, had to go ruin rock instrumentals for everyone.
Yes, they did in fact rearrange others compositions (WDR, Perfidia, 5-0 and a few others) for hits and cover other groups hits and Venturize them. But one of their most important contributions is that they probably stimulated/taught more budding guitarist to play back in the 60's than any other band. They deserve more credit and in this humble person's opinion deserve to be in the RR HOF.
The Ventures have never received the allocades or the respect that is due them, chiefly because todays rock critics WERENT THERE while the boys were selling millions of records. Todays critics pick up an Lp like "The Ventures A-Go-Go" and see a bunch of covers on it, and go "Ah...Cover Band"...."NEXT". Problem is, that wasnt the way it was. Millions, and I mean million of young guitarists and drummers couldnt WAIT for the next Ventures Lp to come out so they could learn the driving arrangements the Ventures used on the then current hits. Why? Because The Ventures were total musical pros,as good as ANY session musicians, and the Ventures arrangements of pop tunes were always swinging and reflected then current trends in music. Stuffy journalists just dont get it, and thats why they "pass" on The Ventures.

Marty Tippens
At their worse, the Ventures were a cover band. At their best, they wrote many of the best surf instros such as "Journey to the Stars", "Surf Rider" (used in Pulp Fiction) and "00-711".

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The Ventures - Dolton 1961.
Rating = 7

In a nonsensical marketing decision, this album was repackaged with two tracks missing ("Ups `N' Downs" and "Detour") and somehow that's the copy I ended up buying, the fool that is society! So I'm reviewing here an incomplete record. A good incomplete record though! Beyond the straight ballads and rockers, this album shows that the Ventures can also do a trolloping "Hawaiian War Chant," a vibrato-dripping "Moon Of Manakoora" and a dark, lonely night driving a lonesome car alone down a lone stretch of highway in the `60s with short hair smoking a cigarette like a juvenile delinquent "Harlem Nocturne." The rockers are for the most part a bit catchier too! I don't know that any of these tunes are considered Ventures classics, but I've seen "Ram-Bunk-Shush" on a couple of greatest hits records (though it's not exactly the most mesmerizing number on here). NO Ventures originals this time around. Presumably, they were too busy trying to make the album cover look as cheerful as possible in spite of original drummer Howie Johnson's hunched-over mafia assassin appearance.

Oh! Did I mention who the main Ventures were? Rhythm guitarist Don Wilson (who handed me a pick that time I saw them in concert!) and lead guitarist/bassist Bob Bogle, who apparently split lead guitar/bass duties with Nokie Edwards. Nokie plays country music now and has a big evil mustache that he uses to kill people.

Reader Comments (James A. Gardner)
Every time I see this album title, I can almost hear someone saying, "It's the Ventures, dolton!" Their JD take on "Harlem Nocturne" truly smokes before it reaches legal age -- I rank their version just a notch below the Chuck Brown and Viscounts versions, but scads better than Esquivel's.

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Another Smash! - Dolton 1961.
Rating = 8

Sounding ever more confident with each release, the Ventures tackle all kinds of moods on this one! The two ballad-penned compositions are solid ("Josie" is in fact one of their finest originals ever - it's a GREAT ballad!) and the covers they've chosen represent a really well-written batch of diversity, including the vibrato-murdered "Ghost Riders In The Sky," the spy chuggers "Bulldog" and "Ginchy," the bouncy as a ball "Wheels," the gorgeous string-embellished ballad "Last Dance" and all those other songs that all do this or that. It's amazing how many different things there are to say about 61 different instrumental albums by the same band. This is going to be the greatest web page of all time.

Reader Comments

Pete B.
First Ventures record I ever owned and a great one. That's Don Wilson doing the lead on "Ghost Riders". He also played lead on "The McCoy" and "Detour" from the previous albums.

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The Colorful Ventures - Dolton 1961.
Rating = 6

The first of exactly one million "concept" albums that our boys The Dentures released while dwelling on our lifeless planet of shit, The Colorful Ventures is made up of songs that have a color in the title. For example, "Blue Moon," "Bluer Than Blue," "Blue Skies," "Blue Balls," etc. I suppose when you choose your cover tunes based on whether or not there is a color in the title, your album isn't necessarily going to be the finest collection of songs ever rendered available. However, it starts and ends excellently, with a revved-up rock and roll version of "Blue Moon" and a rollicking cowboy-style tune (with horns!) called "Silver City." In between are lots of so-so ballads and "eh" rockers, none more so-so or "eh" than the two originals that The Ventures contributed to the collection, which in any other world would have been called "Larry's Earbubble" and "James McCaskill Is A Sissy," but which were given color-oriented titles just to fit in with society's conformist mores. I say to hell with you, you Racist Ventures.

Reader Comments

Pete B.
You're nuts, Pringle. "Yellow Jacket" and "Orange Fire" are two of the coolest songs ever written.

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Twist With The Ventures - Dolton 1962.
Rating = 7

The "concept" behind this record is that it's a "dance" album, not unlike those created by Madonna in the mid-80s. It is full of cheesy synth bass and fake drums and HEY WHO STOLE MY IDENTITY?

Actually a "dance" album in the early sixties I guess just meant that every drum beat was a "twisty" drum beat, which as far as I can tell, is a "4/4" drum beat. Whatever. The point being that I should state here that, in early rock and roll, a lot of the rhythm chord sequences were pretty similar or, in fact, THE SAME from song to song. So the only differentiating factor is whether the lead guitar is playing an interesting riff or not. Sometimes it is, but other times the Venture dudes just start playing a generic rock and roll solo and not bothering to play an actual "melody." Which is kind o' a kick in the moochie, if you catch my wang. But I guess there's enough here to dig, what with recognizable numbers like "The Twist" and "Let's Twist Again," not to mention the dark underarm of "Bumble Bee Twist," which creeps its way into your dog catcher's uniform like a fish with a gumbo full of lip.

Sometimes metaphors don't work out, and at times like those, you simply have to fall back on the companionship of a loved one. Or a cheap hooker like Erma Bombeck.

Reader Comments (James A. Gardner)
Love the Ventures, only what kind of a name is DOLTON for a record company? Man, I got a dolt-on for that new Ventures platter! Geez, who's that dolton lead guitar? And you know what would've been clever, if they had used a black and white photo for the cover of The Colorful Ventures. Some dolton the art dept. thought otherwise, tho.

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The Ventures Twist Party Vol. 2 - Dolton 1962.
Rating = 7

I am unclear as to what the "concept" of this album might be, but if it applies to my life right this second, it has something to do with a dog walking around with one of those lampshade things on its head, bumping into everything and whining incessantly because the ASPCA sucked his balls clear out of his scrotum, leaving just a cold flat wrinkly sac behind. They claim that lots of these songs are band originals, but stuff like "Red Wing Twist" and "Dark Eyes Twist" sure sound ripped off to me. Regardsville, they're more catchy twisty upbeat 4/4 tunes! Classics like "My Bonnie Lies," "Swanee River," "Besame Mucho" and "Jimmy Crack Corn" are given that upbeat rockin' feel, and you won't be able to contain yourself from chuckling at the moronicicity of "The Twomp," with its ludicrous concept: "You heard of the Twist? YEAH! You heard of the Stomp? YEAH! Well, this is the Twomp! YEEEEAAAHHHH!!!" Which reminds me, there are some "backup singers" on these two Twist albums, and they're superwhite and really annoying. Delete them if you have one of those fancy "delete the backup singers" buttons on your Dandy-Go-Cycle.

Reader Comments (James A. Gardner)
Is this the follow-up to Twist With...? Or is it some kind of existential gag, like the Traveling Wilburys v. 3, where there isn't any previous volume? In any event, to stay true to the concept, they should have put the word "Twist" in every title, like "Jimmy Crack Corn Twist" and "My Bonnie Lies Twist" or the surrealistic "Besame Mucho Twist" ... still can't believe someone would name a company "DOLTON Records"! What, was DORKON already taken?

Pete B.
When you hear those "super white" singers the female voices are none other than Darlene Love and The Blossoms.

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Mashed Potatoes And Gravy - Dolton 1962.
Rating = 8

This one is a bunch of songs for people to dance the "mashed potato" to. Apparently this dance is performed at a much slower rate than the twist, because all these songs are midtempo, as opposed to the fast ones on the last couple records. They're nice tunes though - classic `60s tunes like "Lucille," "Poison Ivy" and "Hully Gully," as well as some lesser known but equally fun tunes like "Mashed Potato Time," which I'm certain you know from the rap album that Dee Dee Ramone did under the name "Dee Dee King." Another three band originals grace the stage this time - only one is incredibly remarkable, but boy is it incredibly remarkable. The classic surf/spy original "Spudnik," another one of the Ventures' most incredible original compositions, is so awesome it even ended up in Pulp Fiction! I cannot verify at this time whether or not it also appeared in the adult film Pulp Friction, but I will check on that for you. Over and over again while I enjoy a sock.

Another interesting note to enjoy is that Howie the drummer has been replaced by Mel Taylor on the "traps." Mel is no longer alive now in 2001, but all signs point to him being a really nice guy so appreciate that. Not everybody is nice.

I suppose I'll give this one an 8, even though a 7 seems just as appropriate. For some reason, I just really dig how sluggish and lopey it all sounds. Like a big goofy cartoon elephant plomping back and forth in an attempt to demonstrate rhythm without betraying its non-subtle nature. The backup vocals aren't getting any more tolerable though. Guys?

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Going To The Ventures Dance Party - Dolton 1962.
Rating = 8

Another collection of dance tuners - and great ones! Perhaps the only ones you know by name are "Limbo Rock" and "The Loco-Motion," but any fan of guitar music should dig this baby. There's some excellent, beautiful guitar interplay (which is nice - perhaps too many of their songs feature a rhythm and a lead - this one features double leads playing together in several songs), as well as some different tones and things to compare and contrast. "Limbo Rock," in fact, appears to be played on an acoustic!

No no, an acoustic guitar!

The drums sound excellent on this album - they're really pumped up to the forefront and give the songs a lot of power that may or may not have been evident on the previous records. But the band has to be joking to force hideous, stupid "whoa whoa yeah yeah ahh" vocals like those in "Mr. Moto," "The Loco-Motion" and "Lolita Ya Ya" onto a perfectly innocent audience. Did they really think that they improved the music somehow? Dream on! Sing with me! Sing for the years! As for originals, if you're curious, there are three on here, and two of them -- the gallant, swingin' "Night Drive" and energetic, goodtimey "Gandy Dancer" -- are as great as any cover they've ever done. They honestly were, and are, capable of writing excellent songs. They've just never been terribly prolific at it, most likely because they put out a hundred thousand albums a year and still tour Japan fifteen months out of the year.

In short, I'm all for the Ventures. They claim that they were never a "surf" band, but if that's the case, I'm curious exactly how one would define "surf" music. Because all of this early stuff sure SOUNDS like surf music! The twangy guitars, minor-key intrigue, bent notes, vibrato, reverb, etc. The only thing missing is the "digga-digga-digga" thing that Dick Dale does every ten seconds.

Reader Comments

Pete B.
No they never were a "surf" band though they did cut surf music. They pre-dated surf and were an influence on those bands.

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Telstar And The Lonely Bull - Dolton 1963.
Rating = 9

In a marketing move that surely won some lucky executive a large bonus and stock options that would make Bill Gates green with envy-flavored chlorophyll, this album was re-released with two tracks missing ("Let There Be Drums" and... umm...). This would, as fate would have it, be the version that I managed to purchase. So I'm giving a rave review to an incomplete album. The Ventures have left bland ol' guitar dance music behind to go out on all sorts of crazy limbs this time around, bringing in glistening space age keyboards, backup singers that don't sound like a bunch of developmentally disabled janitors, spanish guitars, mandolins, harpsichords and all kinds of other odd bird instruments to tackle the oddest variety of tunes yet!

Starting the set with Joe Meek's rocket age "Telstar," the Ventures churn and burn with that weirdo early 60s synth before bringing in horny players for the Herb Alpert Mexican Extravaganza "The Lonely Bull." Then there's the cha-cha-cha of "Mexico," the clack-clack-pickin' of "Calcutta," the moronically catchy belly dance of "Never On Sunday" (dig that crazy "swoop!" noise!) and side one has finished. What joys remain for thee on side B? First there's "Tequila," the Spanish anthem that Pee Wee Herman danced to in his Big Adventure before being caught Masturbating In An Adult Theater. Then they move on to a GARAGE ROCK smash-ass guitar version of Booker T. and The MGs' organ-driven soul classic "Green Onions" (better known as Mark Prindle's "A Cow"), a song I love called "Percolator" whose exact nature isn't occurring to me at this moment, the circus organ happytime of "Red River Rock," which appears somewhere in National Lampoon's Vacation, along with the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop," then the condensed version of the album winds down with a shitty boring go-nowhere organ doodle called "Last Night" that isn't any good and ruins the entire record.

So the Ventures are branching out, showing their skills with other types of music! Movin' on and keepin' the creative flame burning free! Tthere's certainly no twist or surf music on this baby! There is, however, a song with a color in the title, so forget everything I just said. They are stagnating at a deadly pace.

Reader Comments (James A. Gardner)
Punctuation is everything! On the original (DOLTON!) lp, the title is given as "Telstar the Lonely Bull." No wonder that bull's lonely with a name like that! (AMG lists it as "Telstar, the Lonely Bull." Like "Sputnik, the Angry Puppy.") At least when it was reissued on CD, the title was given a punctuation upgrade -- hey, it was the go-go early 90s after all -- to "Telstar - The Lonely Bull and Others" ... so poor Telstar was still alone in his bullpen, but Tequila and Percolator were in there with him! (What's nice about the CD is that at last "Telstar" was where it belonged, with the Meek-alikes of Ventures In Space.) See how, important -- is punctuation?
Actually, Prindle, there are a whopping TWO songs with colors in the title here- the second best version EVER of Green Onions, right behind Poison Idea's hilarious hardcore cover (with keyboards!), and Red River Rocks, a tune I usually skip. That means the Ventures were stagnating at an even deadlier pace, right? Right? Thought so.
Actually, the song used in Vacation is Red River Rock, but by Toledo Ohio superstars Johnny and the Hurricanes, who scored another top 40 hit with the immortal 'Beatnic Fly'
"The Lonely Bull" may seem an unlikely tune for The Ventures to cover but, Mel Taylor has been credited with playing drums on Herb Alpert's original recording.

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Surfing - Dolton 1963.
Rating = 7

Even after listening to this album, I still have no clue what exactly "surf" music is and why the Ventures are not a "surf" band. This album sounds just like all their others!!! (except the last one, I mean) They've added in some beach noises and a couple of "digga digga digga"s, but this is basically the same mixture of surf/spy drama, generic early rock `n' roll and vibratoed balladry that they use on all their albums! Is it a "surf" album simply because all the songs have beach-oriented titles? Then wouldn't it be considered cheating that the Ventures themselves WROTE nine of the twelve songs, and just plopped beach-related titles on them so they'd fit the album theme? Or is this a "surf" album because there is a "surfing glossary" on the back cover, featuring such timeless slang as "hanging five" (five toes over the nose of the board), "gremmies" (beginners or young hangers-on who are troublesome to surfers) and "woodies" (the station wagon a surfer users to haul his board)?

Well, whatever makes them happy. I think it's all nonsense though, and most of their early material is surf music, whether they like it or not. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to play with my station wagon.

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Bobby Vee Meets The Ventures - Dolton 1963.
Rating = 8

I imagine I'm a little too fond of this one, considering that it's much more of a Bobby Vee record than a Ventures record. But the songs are just so darnedd infectiuable! Bobby has kind of a tool of a voice, hitting every note succinctly like a young Wilford Brimley but throwing in this gruff tough-kid-style phlegmy "aaahhhm" thing every once in a while so the kids don't think he's a sissy (he is). And the Ventures don't really do much on here besides playing the background music straight through and throwing in an excellent, WONDERFUL re-recording of the old jazz classic "Caravan," a weaker version of which had appeared on their debut LP. But about these songs. How about them? "Goodnight Irene"? "Walk Right Back"? "Honeycomb"? "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter"? You'd have to be a manchild born with no soul inside your body to not dance and sing along to these songs like a little lambchop bouncing around a plate! They're so aged, so dated, so very very un-Korn-esque! Sweet and stupid like the Everly Brothers or Ricky Nelson or The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black. So the Ventures don't really do anything - so what? Did America really do anything during the Vietnam Conflict?

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The Country Classics - Dolton 1963.
Rating = 6

They play country music very well and all - I'm just not much of a country music fan. Certainly I enjoy Johnny Cash, so it's a treat to hear "I Walk The Line" done Ventures-style, and the band does some really cool hammer-on sequences in "Panhandle Rag," "San Antonio Rose" and I think a couple others, not to mention some downhome square dancin' hoedowns in "Sugarfoot Rag" and such. But, as great as the playing is (and it truly is great), the melodies themselves just don't stick with me at all. Much like country music!

Let me quickly discuss something else here. The Ventures' guitar stylings - every note is perfect in its place. When they bend notes, they bend them perfectly. There is no mindless dicking around in a Ventures song. Even when their solos are boring, they are played immaculately. No flubbed fingers, no wrong notes - quite honestly, no SOUL! Just young white men performing on their chosen instruments, hitting all the correct notes as cleanly and smoothly as they can, only breaking out into a Chuck Berry sweat in such rare tunes as "Wild Night" and a few later ones that I'm sure we'll discuss when we get to them. Which reminds me of a hilarious joke I read in a decades-old Hustler the other night - Teddy Kennedy was driving his girlfriend Mary Jo home one night when she suddenly turned to him and said, "Teddy, I think I may be pregnant." Teddy responded, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."


Hey, you're lucky it wasn't a D.B. Cooper joke.

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Let's Go! - Dolton 1963.
Rating = 9

This was one of the first Ventures albums I heard (when I was about 4, my Dad "turned me on" to this one, Another Smash, The Fabulous Ventures and Guitar Freakout!), but I don't think that's the reason I like it so much. It's because the production is as strong and hard as always, the guitar tones are beyond gorgeous and, most importantly, the song selection is excello beginnago! Basically, it sounds like a more rock-focused follow-up to Telstar And The Lonely Bull. They use all kinds of different guitar tones, double up lead guitar lines, add in pianos, fun handclaps and female vox (which is slang for "singing with your mouth") and slam it jam it at all kindsa American ("Memphis"), Latin ("El Watusi"), Japanese ("Sukiyaki") and North Korean ("New Orleans") music, with nearly TOO MUCH melody crackling off of the grooves and into a heroin syringe hole in your arm. Plus, "Wipe Out" is on here! And Del Shannon's fabled "Runaway"! Perhaps not as good a song as "Searchin' (We'll Follow The Sun)," but definitely no slouch in the TV theme song department. (And no, I can't remember what show "Runaway" was the theme to, but believe you me, it was a keeper!).

Not a single miss to be found - and no "surf" music either! Just The Ventures once again giving their instruments the old switcheroo to present an instrumental album of such depth and diversity, it's probably not too surprising that every single song is a cover.

Reader Comments

Gino Russano
I've learned through reading an extensive Ventures biography, Mel nor Nokie play on Wipeout. The Ventures were in huge demand for live performances and there was a huge demand for more new albums, so it became not uncommon for two of them to go out on tour, picking up two local musicians to fill in, while the other two stayed back to record using studio guys to fill in.

I always thought something was wrong with Wipeout in that the guitar style and drumming weren't sounding to familiar. Turns out Hal blaine did the drums and Tommy Tadesco did the guitar work. There are a couple other tunes on that album that were recorded with a revolving group of studio guys.

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In Space - Dolton 1964.
Rating = 8

On this, perhaps the most famous Ventures record of all time, they utilize creative studio effects to create a mood of eerie, sci-fi/horror darkness, borrowing a page from the book of Joe Meek (thankfully not that embarrassing "real life murder/suicide" page). With four excellent originals and eight cover tunes with titles like "The Fourth Dimension," "The Twilight Zone" and "Out Of Limits," the Ventures combine their pre-established guitar approach with weird reverbed-to-heck but NON-synth-generated noises to churn up a non-fun, non-beachy, yes-morbid, yes-sorrowful little record of high goodness. There are a few "eh"s keeping it from reaching "Prindle High Status Ranking" (Copyright Hostess Twinkies), but, even when the riffs aren't particularly sick or threatening, the overall tone is one so at odds with the public's vision of The Ventures as America's well-dressed, smiling guitar band of dressing nice that it's probably a should-try-to-own-maybe. Don't buy it and you will be disappointed!

But what the hell's up with the guitar tone? Why does it keep getting so distorted and high-pitched, instead of clean and deep like The Ventures we low and knove? Why, that's because with this record, the Venturitones began using Mosrite Guitars exclusively! Who else used Mosrite? Johnny Ramone, of course! But he played faster and the distortion didn't really matter a whole lot, what with him using a distortion pedal and all.

Reader Comments
In Space was allegedly recorded not by The Ventures but by studio guitarist Billy Strange and a crew of studio musicians including steel guitarist Red Rhodes. Strange was also session leader and player on other "Ventures" records over a two year period when members of The Ventures were drafted into military service. This was done to keep new Ventures product in the stores while the band was still hot. That might explain the difference in guitar tone from previous recordings.
Members of the Ventures were not in the military during the recording of “In Space” or any of their albums. Don Wilson was in the military prior to forming The Ventures. It is a bit of overstatement to say that “In Space” was recorded “not by the Ventures” but only a bit. Ventures Don and Mel are on the sessions but they are indeed supplemented by Billy Strange, David Gates, Leon Russell, Red Rhodes among others. It is known that the track “Fourth Dimension” is the “original four” Ventures, Bob, Don, Nokie and Mel. This is the information as reported by Dave Burke of Pipeline Magazine. Dave gathered the info from session sheets.
Simply... I prefer the Ventures Mosrite tones to the earlier Fender era. Of course there are back and forth exceptions but the Mosrite sound is really unique, especially when combined with the Mosrite Fuzzrite.

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The Fabulous Ventures - Dolton 1964.
Rating = 8

More Mosrite Craptones, but the songs are good! The Ventures keep on becoming better songwriters by the minute, as evidenced by this collection's baker's dozen (6) of originals like the hyperactive "Runnin' Wild," creepy "Eleventh Hour" (which would have fit in perfectly on the last record!), silly "Scratchin'" (and yes, it does feature a scratching noise as part of the rhythm break), odd-chord-sequenced "Ravin' Blue," ugly stupid "Walkin' With Pluto" and picture-perfect surf/spy classic "Journey To The Stars," which is, no joke, one of the best-known and most-cherished songs ever recorded in this genre - AND IT'S A VENTURES ORIGINAL!!!! You can even hear a few seconds of the riff being played on the latest Dwarves album! THE DWARVES!!!!! DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS MEANS????? ONCE THE DWARVES ACCEPT YOU, YOU'VE ARRIVED! YOU NO LONGER HAVE TO EAT DOG CRAP FOR DINNER OR SLEEP ON THE FLOOR OF SOME GUY'S VEGA!!!! I'm done with you, this Dwarves bit.

The record sounds a bit like In Space but thankfully with a slightly deeper guitar sound and lots of lighter moods for the kids and their loved ones. Notably, for the first time perhaps ever, the Venture originals are actually stronger than the covers, aside from a neat, hibbity-jibbity tune called "The Cruel Sea" (which they still perform to this day) and a slower, poppy something or other called "Only The Young," the original of which I bet you a dollar doesn't sound as stirring as this cover. Elsewhere, there's a crappy, overdistorted cover of "Needles And Pins" (which future Mosrite lovers The Ramones would likewise perform a crappy, underdistorted cover of), the Pink Panther Theme and a song with dogs barking on it! Oh you shoulda SEEN the look on my puppy's face! He even went over to check the window! He didn't bark though, which is shocking considering that I had to close the blind earlier because he wouldn't stop barking at some guy with a cellphone on his terrace across the street.

Fuckin' cellphone guy. I still don't quite understand Dog Language, but I'm pretty sure my puppy was shouting, "Prick! Prick! Prick!"

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Walk Don't Run Vol. 2 - Dolton 1964.
Rating = 8

Not exactly a step forward in melodic progression, what with most of these tunes being rudimentary (but catchy!) dance rockers and ballads similar to the ones on the early records, but Nokie, Bob and Don have discovered purposeful distortion! Tracks like "Pedal Pusher," the "Rumble"-reminiscent pounder "The Creeper" and an abysmal cover of "The House Of The Rising Sun" all embrace this crazy new "fuzztone" with wild abandon! Rock and roll is as angry as it could possibly ever be! Where can we go from here?

Well, The Ventures Play The Carcass Catalog, of course, but we're not there yet, so hold your horses and fold your corsets.

Other classics on here include the pointless "Walk, Don't Run '64" and "Diamond Head"! All four band originals on here are great tunes. I have nought else to report. Carry on.

My wayward son, that is! Ha!!! Kansas humor on a fine Eastober morn!

Reader Comments
There is nothing I would rather hear than The Ventures Play The Carcass Catalog, save for The Ventures Play The Rudimentary Peni Catalog, and perhaps The Ventures Play The Zeke Catalog. To make this relevant, somewhat, I'll just add that I love the surf-guitar intro to Walk Don't Run '64, but prefer the original.
I've enjoyed reading your website, especially your Ventures reviews. When I first heard 'The Creeper' by the Ventures it sounded really familiar. I finally realized it sounded just like some old song I taped off the local alternative radio station in the mid 80s with the chorus 'buttocks, buttocks, i love buttocks'. I found out the song was by the Meatmen, I heard a clip of it, and god damn it I am sure its the same song, but I don't have the recordings. WOuld you mind telling me if you hear the similarity too?

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Knock Me Out! - Dolton 1965.
Rating = 8

Starts off as smelly as an old sock with a really disappointing rendition of the great Beatles song "I Feel Fine" (The Ventures flub it up with soft keyboards and an annoying whangy bar jerk at the end of each verse), a predictably bad cover of the already-atrocious Roy Orbison song "(Oh) Pretty Woman," a great version of another weak choice for cover tune in "Love Potion Number Nine" and a fairly uninnovative original called "Tomorrow's Love." After that though, man there's no slowing it down! The next eight songs (four originals, four covers) are heartclutchingly melodic and well-performed, ranging from the heavenly chimes of "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue" to the, ah you know, all the others are great too. Beautiful ballads, great melodic pop rockers - all covered with sweet fuzz and a perhaps a few too many organs. Like Britney Spears.

Say, which movie do you think I should have played at my funeral - The Car or Dark Night Of The Scarecrow? I mean, they're both awesome but I don't people to have to sit through both of them.

Reader Comments
Definitely go with The Car. After all, what better way to celebrate the life of a loved one than by watching a big motherfucking sinister black car rampaging across a movie screen? Perhaps watching The Car while listening to this album, no?

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On Stage - Dolton 1965.
Rating = 9

Isn't it amazing how live audiences in Japan create the exact same two-part high-pitched squeal every three seconds and all quiet down and get louder again at the exact same times during the songs? Nevertheless, it's alive! Got LIVE if you want it! Get your ya-yas out! They're NOT live at leeds! But the song selection is delightfully grand (including Mel Taylor's spirited drumsticks-on-the-bass solo in "Caravan"!) and the performances are as topnotch as expected (and probably recorded in a studio!). Plus, it features both "Bumble Bee" and "Yellow Jacket," so to really get in that "Ventures Spirit," you may want to jam the turntable needle into your arm a few times before you place it on the record.

Reader Comments
Well, I was all ready to submit a review for a Ventures disc I just picked up called "Live In Japan '65," when I realized that it's just a reissue of this. I'd give it the coveted 10, but the bi-lingual guy introducing the songs annoys the fuck out of me. The performances are incredible, though. The first three songs alone would get an eight. I've don't remember hearing the studio cut of the opener, "The Cruel Sea (The Cruel Surf)," but if it's anywhere near as good as the version here then it's pretty awesome. Also, the version of "Penetration" here is a lot better than the Pyramids' original.

And then we have the fourth track, "Bulldog," unquestionably the high point of the album. The studio version on Another Smash was a lot like many of the Ventures early songs, with cool riffs but an really interchangeable solo. Not here, though. The performance is surprisingly manic, (especially for the Ventures) and has more energy than some of the old Ramones bootlegs I have.

Back to Nokie's solo, though... I will be the first to admit, I have no idea about what effect(s) he uses, (it sounds a little like hitting a ping-pong ball with a paddle) but if this isn't the greatest guitar solo of all time then I don't know what is. Don't get me wrong, stuff like "Eruption" is great and all, but Nokie plays about as fast as you can while still being tasteful. There's no wanky solos here. But, moving along...

I really hate some of the covers here, like "House Of The Rising Sun" and "Love Potion #9," but there's just too many good, nay, great songs to counter them. "Telstar," "Slaughter On 10th Avenue," "Journey To The Stars," "Driving Guitars (Ventures Twist)" and perhaps the best version of "Pipeline" ever are just a few of the great songs on this fantastic album. Mel's solo on "Caravan" is insanely cool too, especially the part where he goes nuts on the bass. It's like the only extended drum solo that's worth listening to, unless you count "Toad," which you shouldn't, because it's pointless and sort of boring.

I think the most surprising moments here are the fuck-ups, though. Like Prindle says somewhere else on this page, the Ventures don't fuck around when it comes to playing their instruments, but there are a few noticeable mistakes here. Especially on "Wipeout."

I love the Surfaris' original. (Page coming soon!) The blissfully easy guitar solo, and the coolest drum part ever, however, were apparently a bit too easy for the Ventures. Mel basically refuses to play the drum part, although he adds some very cool fills in its place, and Nokie takes not one but three solos. After either the second or third, he comes back in to the rhythm the wrong time...and on the wrong note. Someone also hits a bum note or chord on "Walk Don't Run '64," and I think it's Nokie again, only because it's pretty loud.

Still, though, they're human. And they're the Ventures. I agree whole heartedle with the 9, but skip the intro track and the band member introductions and it's a 10 for sure.

Gino Russano
Here's the deal on this one...The record execs said, "Hey guys, come in the studio and do a bunch of songs real loose and wild, OK?" The Ventures said, "Duh, OK." Then they were surprise and angry to find out while out touring that the label had released a fake live without consulting them. Fake cheers, fake announcements...But in reality, one hell of an album, regardless....

Pete B.
This is NOT the same album as "1965" whicfh was indeed live. This was done "live" in the studio with crowd noises overdubbed (with or without the Ventures knowledge I can't say). Thankfully many of these cuts have been re-issued in their pristine form on ACE records "In The Vaults" series (four volumes so far). BTW to do the "ping-pong" thing you need a Mosrite (or copy) guitar where you can pick behind the bridge.

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A Go-Go - Dolton 1965.
Rating = 7

Why in Sam Frank's Disco (hilarious punchline to an equally uproarious riddle) were The Ventures so obsessed with organs and crappy guitar playing during this point in their career? My fiancee is damn near in tears laughing over here at how stupid "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" sounds with a stupid keyboard imitating the vocal patterns of Mick Jagger. Oh, and then there's "Louie Louie" and "I Like It Like That," which feature the most poorly performed, destination-free dicking-around-the-melody guitar playing that the band has ever laid to rest in a field of vinyl.

And while we're discussing laziness, how about the fact that they put the same exact song on here twice with two different titles ("Night Stick" and "A Go-Go Dancer")? Were mid-60s audiences too "high" on life to notice? Or, even more into shoddy packaging, how about the fact that the Ventures re-swizzled "The Creeper" (which was only released one year earlier, you understand) into "The Swingin' Creeper," for no estimable reason or personal gain? It's a good thing they didn't dick around with "La Bamba" or "The In Crowd," or I'd squirt their score right on back to oblivion. As it is, regardless of over-organning, ugly Mosrite guitar tones and overloose playing, there are enough great moments on here to warrant a low 7. Too much kitschy "cool" atmosphere though - trying to do another crappy dance album (the "go go" dance, one would surmise, whatever the hell that is) instead of giving the people the fine melodies that they deserve.

And PLEASE do something about those tinny, buzzing Mosrites. They sound like a speedily vibrating fork being held against a baby's first tooth!

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Christmas Album - Dolton 1965.
Rating = 7

Fantambulatory Xmas album! At the Xmas time, if you're one of them Xtian sheep people, don't forget to pull out your Ventures' Xmas album! It's a TEN at Xmas time! But it's a 7 year round, and that's good too! An album like this really makes you stop and reflect upon whether Xmas songs are really any good. And man, some Xmas songs really are great songs, aren't they? Have you sung "Jingle Bells" to yourself lately? Or "Frosty The Dopeman"? Or "Rudolph The Mayor Who Sleeps With Whores"? These Jesus X-flavored songs are so good, all sorts of non-Xians can enjoy them, from Buddhists to Jews to even Black Moslems at home worshipping Malcolm Christ! It's an "all in the "family" affair"! With guitars! The Ventures here intertwine eleven Xmas classics (and one garbage Xmas original) with Ventures classics to create a sort of evil Frankenstein murderous hybrid of the two. For example, the song will begin by tricking you into thinking you're enjoying "Walk, Don't Run!," but then FROM OUT OF NOWHERE, an EPIC Xmas song will appear and you'll realize that this is THE REAL THING!

Ah, fuck Xmas. FAITH? NO MORE!

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Where The Action Is - Dolton 1966.
Rating = 8

Really REALLY close to a 9. It's hard to mind the pianos, keyboards and horrible guitar tones when the songs are this great. It's along the lines of the A Go-Go album, but with tons more actual melody, not to mention cool riffs! (?) Four of the five originals are terrific axe garage rockers, with "Nutty" being one of the most entertaining and speedaholic little boners they've yet to writ. Most of the covers are dandy too, including "Hang On Sloopy" (a shittyass song made good somehow!), "A Taste Of Honey" (a legendary ballad sped up ROCKIN' style!), one of the greatest commercial jingles that could ever possibly be, something entitled "No Matter What Shape You're Stomach's In" and none other than Paul Revere & The Raiders' "Action"!

They use their finely honed artisan skills to make the stinging Mosrite piece of crap guitars ring with joy and verve, and they keep the energy level high from beginning to end. My only gripes would be a cover of that terrible Peggy Lee song "Fever," as well as a certain unnameable original track that just doesn't cut any sort of mustard, not even in an underdeveloped country where mustard is really scarce. In short conclusion summation, it sounds like The Ventures had a great time recording this album and chances are that you'll have a great time recording over it!

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Batman Theme - Dolton 1966.
Rating = 9

Now THIS is a concept album! Although it's really hard to tell what the title of the record actually is, since the cover says "Batman Theme Green Hornet `66' Secret Agent Man The Man From U.N.C.L.E. `Get Smart' Theme," it has for some reason become known as Batman Theme and WOW what an album. The concept is that every single song on here is one of those fun SPY songs! They all rollick with action, intrigue, deception and a little bit of minor-key suspense, giving the listener the impression that he is inside a real-live James Bond movie or episode of Dragnet! No ballads, no happy pop songs, no overdistorted crappy dance songs - just straight through SPY MUSIC! The ultra-encouraging thing here is that seven of these twelve songs are Venture originals, and not only do they nail the mood perfectly, but they are just GREAT songs!

This album may not demonstrate the full range of the Ventures' sound, but it's easily one of the most consistent and enjoyable albums that they ever released. It makes me want to rob a jewelry store at gunpoint and lead the FBI on a dangerous cross-country pursuit!

At least, that's what I intend on telling my attorney.
I think that Batman Theme and The Ventures in Space deserve 10 stars. Both have great, aggressive production. This is when they started to really separate to two channels (with producer Joe Saraceno and engineer Bruce Botnick).
Wow! Just found this at a charity shop, The cover looks like a crappy kids record. Seems to just be entitled "The Ventures". I'm surprised I've never heard "Zocko!" before, it's great! I picked it up with another Ventures record that doesn't seem to be reviewed here. "Runnin' Strong" on Sunset records seems to be a lot of great Ventures songs re-recorded & given crappy titles like "Cathy's Theme" & "Lonely Karen" wonder what the story is with that one.

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Go With The Ventures - Dolton 1966.
Rating = 8

No concept here, but THANK GOD the guitar tones are back sounding good again. Well, they were on the last album too. But that was for a change. They were sounding buzzed out for far too long. Now they're clean, deep and cool again, and I for one couldn't be happier about this development! So it's like their earliest work, but with modern material - two Mamas and Papas covers, that awful "Good Lovin'" song, "Eight Miles High," "Sloop John B," "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'." Most of these tunes are played very well - lots of GUITARS, less emphasis on organs. Only three originals here, but one is "Ginza Lights," which is an incredible Japanese-flavored song that should be cherished for at least one generation.

Actually I suppose that about nine billion generations have passed since this album came out so screw "Ginza Lights." If you want modern Japanese-flavored music, I think Smashmouth is probably the way to go.

Reader Comments

Pete B.
This is the last Ventures album worth listening to in my opinion. It was all downhill from here. After this they recorded tons of pure crap in an effort to be hip and contemporary. It wasn't all bad but it just wasn't The Ventures anymore, especially after Nokie left.

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Wild Things - Dolton 1966.
Rating = 6

Not too great. I guess this is their attempt to be "hip" with the "cool" "modsters" who maybe didn't "dig" their "bag" at the time, but the riffs are so pedestrian that any 12-year-old could have written them. They sound an awful lot, in fact, like the riffs they were writing at the very beginning of their career - just with more distortion. If you're keen on unmelodic, uneventful "attitude" riffs that sound like not much went into them, Wild Things is a fantastic Matt Dillon film! The covers are fine though; feel free to pedal your motor scooter to "The Pied Piper," "Wild Thing" (with humorous vocals in the chorus!), "Summer In The City," "Hanky Panky" and a couple others that maybe haven't aged quite as well in the mind of the average music listener.

No, not Walter Egan's "Hot Summer Nights"! Why does everything end up revolving around Walter Egan with you?

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* Guitar Freakout - Dolton 1967. *
Rating = 10

Another one of my childhood favorites! On this one, The Ventures actually succeed at sounding cool, NOT because of bland motorcycle riffs but because they put a lot of thought and energy into coming up with not only creative RIFFS, but creative approaches to the songs. For example, the Mosrite high-pitched sting-tone is back, but they've got it so overprocessed that it actually sounds GOOD. Listen to it stinging in the background of "Cookout Freakout On Lookout Mountain" - it's almost like the ANTI-guitar tone, it sounds so offputting and weird! I think it's partly because they've got it through more effects than just distortion - there seems to be some vibrato in there, maybe some reverb or chorus, I don't know. But let's move on.

Beyond the tones, they just do things in these songs that they wouldn't have done on past records. Smart little breaks and things that totally make the songs worth hearing over and over again. "Paper Airplane," for example: dig the high-speed recurring drum break (with rhythm guitar scratching in time) and end-of-"chorus" slow-down-and-die that the instruments do a couple of times. Then listen close during the fade as a disembodied piano seems to flail away in the distance, towards no melody or key in particular. Now let's take "Guitar Freakout": It sounds like a cute, catchy little guitar song with cool organ accompaniment, right? Sure it does. Until the break comes. The music stops, somebody shouts "FREAKOUT!" and the band starts playing a hardcore-speed noise explosion! Song fade.... Song START UP AGAIN! And you get to enjoy the freakout yet again.

What else is on here - Oh sweet jesus, "Mod East". That's a song that gets me every time I hear it. It's sort of, I guess, an attempt to kind of capture that "Eastern" vibe that a lot of bands were doing back in the sixties - but it's, like, really FAST and just catchy as hell. Because it's not quite Eastern. The melody has a lot of guitar notes in a sort of almost snakelike fashion, but The Ventures are so rooted in Western pop tradition that it's like they can't HELP but turn it into the catchiest, most excitable little guitar line possible. Then check out the middle part - what the hell is that noise in the background? A processed-to-oblivion Mosrite? A distorted organ? A harmonica through a Leslie Speaker? Whatever it is.... the song is really, REALLY well-put-together.

And those are just three of the five great originals they wrote for this one! On the cover side, we get nothing but greatness. Pristine guitar tones and lots of vibrato bar bends do justice to wonderful `60s "nutchests" like Paul Revere & The Raiders' "Good Thing," the Monkees' "I'm A Believer," and... oh whoever did "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron." Oh! And how about "Wack Wack"? It's a groovy improv jazz type soul number! Oh christ I'm spitting lilies at how much I love this album! Generic rockers? NONE. Generic ballads? Only if you don't like "Standing In The Shadows Of Love. The fist of Guitardom has struck again! And you are the glove!

Let me try that again. Piecing together the disparate pieces of surf music, hard guitar rock and early psychedelia, Guitar Freakout demonstrates without a doubt that The Ventures could "roll with the times." As long as the times didn't roll too far away.

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Super Psychedelics - Dolton 1967.
Rating = 8

I'm really close to lowering this to a 7, but I'll keep it at 8 for old time's sake. See, most of the Ventures' early output had a "hard" sound. The guitar tones were crisp and tough and manly - with no vaselined edges. The drums were likewise crunchy and hard-hitting. There was no softness except in the ballads. This is not the case on Super Psychedelics. They seem to be making a concerted attempt to soften up their sound, for some reason. The production throughout is fluffier with more rounded edges and a lighter touch on the guitar strings and psychedelic phase and vibrato effects turning the hard guitar tones into bubbling, swirling tones of potpipe. Even the keyboard tones are pansier. Now, every band has to change on occasion, so I'm not knocking them for doing this. I'm just trying to describe the sound for you.

God, my legs hurt. Do you think I need to start eating two bananas a day again? My doctor said I may be low on potassium because of my week-and-a-half-long bout with the diarpoopies. I've spent today reading and responding to people on George Starostin's message board who think I'm an offensive idiot because of my inflammatory Miles Davis reviews. If you haven't read them, read them! They're intelligently considered!

You know you're in for a different Ventures experience when they start the record with a cover of "Strawberry Fields Forever." Ahh yes. A gentler Ventures. Not every single song follows this vein, you understand - there are some cool guitar rockers on here - it's just that the overwhelming mood is one of heavy sedation and flowers. The other covers are "Happy Together," "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," something you've never heard of and - oh let me go off on a tangent here, though I'm not known for doing things like that. Usually Wilson & Alroy are the ones who go off on tangents, always talking about their penises and personal issues. But I'm going to make an exception because this is important. I have always adored the song "Western Union" by The Five Americans. The "morse code" fade-in, the one-note bass line, the hilariously simplistic keyboard solo and especially the vocal harmonies, both in the verse and the "da-da-da-da-da" chorus part. It's an amazing song. Short, sharp and perfect. So how in the hell did the Ventures manage to FUCK IT UP SO BAD?????

In conclusion, the songs aren't anywhere near as brilliantly put together as those on Guitar Freakout, but if you're good with softer guitar instrumentals, you'd might as well buy it. There are seven bubblegum hippy originals, and they're actually mostly really great. It's still certainly not easy listening music - it's just more sugar-coated around the edges than their earlier albums. Trust me - they'd get much, MUCH softer before reaching their Carpenters Songbook nadir!

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$1,000,000 Weekend - Dolton 1968.
Rating = 6

From what I gather, this was intended to be one of those "bachelor pad" EZ listening records, but it doesn't really sound like one. Well, it IS easy listening for sure - no doubt about that - but it doesn't have that tropicalia vibe that I always associate with bachelor pads. This is just full of very clean (non-distorted, but also not soft-sounding like the last album), pretty guitars (backed with electric pianos, harpsichords, etc) playing a batch of very mellow popular songs of the day. No originals - just quiet, peaceful numbers like "Georgy Girl," "Sunny," "Respect" (well, they MAKE it quiet and peaceful), "To Sir With Love," "Groovin'," "Windy," "Sealed With A Kiss," "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" and "Yesterday."

Though Nokie was still in the band at this point, this album sounds a lot like the faceless, pointless material they would put out in the early seventies on records like 10th Anniversary Album and The Jim Croce Songbook. But hey, the album is easy to rest to. No scary noises or loud drumbeats or anything.

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Flights Of Fantasy - Dolton 1968.
Rating = 6

Nokie's last album with the group for a good five years, and not exactly a stellar way to go out. The guitars sound awful, all buried in ludicrous phase and buzzy distortion and whatever else stupid effects they could find. I mean, there are some points on here where the phase effect is so powerful, the entire song disappears for seconds at a time. But besides that, the main thing that drags the album down is that three of the twelve songs are crappy covers of equally crappy songs -- "The Mighty Quinn," "The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde" and "Cry Like A Baby." Honestly, hte rest of the album isn't that bad. Poorly recorded, sure, but "Innermotion Faze" and "Love Shower" are really nice psych-pop originals, as is the title track, which I suppose is to be expected since it appeared on the Super Psychedelics TWO FUCKING ALBUMS AGO with a different title and less phaser. Do you know what a phaser is, by the way? It makes it sound like the guitar is all windy and sometimes even underwater. It's not the sort of effect you need to use over and over. But The Ventures certainly do, on both this and Super Psychedelics.

It's too bad that Nokie had to end his tenure with the band on two low notes, but hey - maybe that's part of the reason he left! They weren't so much "floundering" as just putting way too much weak filler between their good songs. And dicking around with bad guitar effects too much, of course. But with Nokie's departure, Gerry McGee would join the Venture fold and the course of twelve mens' lives would change forever.

Okay, not twelve. But at least one, what with Gerry McGee not being in the Ventures before but being in them now. That's a pretty major change, I think. I mean, imagine if you were asked to join Led Zeppelin or The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Don't you feel that your life would change as a result of this experience? You can't play onstage to millions of adoring fans or a small nightclub full of 10-year-olds and then wake up the next morning and pretend that you are still a normal person. You're not. You're now a celebrity. Which means you are better than everybody else, and should be treated as such.

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The Horse - Dolton 1968.
Rating = 7

Gerry McGee doesn't play like a Venture. He plays like a normal, blues-influenced guitarist. So surf music was out of the question. So what to do? A SOUL album! That's what the kids want! Bring in the horns and the superfunky bass lines and just let Gerry wail away with his wah-wah and goodtime Clapton-isms! And it actually works really well, both as a way of separating "new" Ventures from "old" Ventures, and as a funky fresh album all its own. Never before had Bob Bogle allowed himself to play these James Brown sorts of bass lines, nor had Don Wilson been able to play "FUNK" rhythms on his guitar. So everybody got to try something new!

Not in the songwriting department though. These are all covers. Classic soul tunes like "Grazing In The Grass" and "Choo Choo Train" make up the majority of the album, but they slip in a couple of non-funk tunes (funked up to fit the album) like a tough, true to the original run-through of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (in my opinion, one of the greatest songs the Stones or any other rock band ever recorded) and Tiny Tim's "Tip-Toe Thru' The Tulips With Me," which isn't anywhere near as interesting in instrumental form as it was as sung by the late Mr. Tim. The album's highlight (for sheer laughter value alone) would have to be the latest version of "Walk, Don't Run," which is set to a backdrop of "Land Of 1,000 Dances," of all crazy do-nothings!!!!

Speaking of funk, it's difficult to put into words exactly how much I despise that song "Californication" with every fervent ounce of my mind, body and soul. And while we're on the subject of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, what the hell's the deal with all these Horse songs having "horse" themes? Was the entire continent strung out on chinese rocks back in '68?

At least that would help explain the birth of Celine Dion.

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Underground Fire - Dolton 1968.
Rating = 8

Okay, a chance to see what this Gerry McGee can do in the songwriting department. He can do good things! New Orleansy things, slippery slide heavy blooze rock things -- but NO surf things! Gerry McGee doesn't play surf music. Were we talking about drugs a second ago? Then here let me be sure to mention that three of the six originals are entitled "Sea of Grass," "Higher Than Thou" and "Up Up And Down". What happened to those sweet innocent Ventures that we danced to at the sock hop back in '61? Did Gerry McGee lead them down the pathway of destruction to a homemade hell's gate of narcotics, whores and urban street vigilantes?

No, of course not. They were just trying desperately to pander to music fans of the era and sell a few albums, just as they have done all throughout their career. They have always tried to reflect our times, stay current and bring in new legions of Japanese fans because nobody in America besides me gives a rat's ass that they existed past like `66. So this album covers the beginnings of hard rock and heavy metal. Not just in the originals, but also in the choice of cover tunes - "Born 2 B Wild," "Sunshine Of Yr Luv," "Lite My Fyr" and a few others that I can't do funny things with the names of. Bluesy heavy guitar rock, that's what the kids were diggin' way back in '68! These were desperate times that called for desperate music. Remember Robert Kennedy? The riots at the Democratic Convention? The birth of Celine Dion?

Look, I don't mean to dwell. But she just like totally sucks so bad. In fact, I don't doubt that the captain of the Titanic would have paid a bit more attention to where he was going had he been forewarned of her miserable song.

Reader Comments (Steven Knowlton)
Another funny title: "The W8"

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More Golden Greats - Liberty 1969.
Rating = 9

Weird compilation. Six excellent (but mostly non-hit) album tracks, plus six cool non-LP tracks that I don't know if they're new or what the hell they are, but they're good! "The Good, Bad And The Ugly," "Mission: Impossible," "Torquay," "Love Is Blue," a re-recording of "Raunchy" and "Classical Gas." I don't know where else if anywhere you can get these songs, but is it really worth it when you can get half of the songs on other albums?

Actually it probably is, unless you're planning to pull a Prindle and buy every Ventures album that the guys even think about recording.

No no, a MARK Prindle.

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Hawaii Five-O - Liberty 1969.
Rating = 8

Sounds like Swamp Rock to me, but what do I know? Gerry's playing with a severely country/bayou twang to his guitar (how does he accomplish that, by the way? Is it just the tone he chooses or is it because he thwaks at the strings in a particularly rednecky way?) and they fill every ounce of light with trumpets, trombones, saxophones and fluglehorns. There's not a single original on here, but the material they cover is great, including the Grass Roots' "Lovin' Things," The Box Tops' "The Letter" (their THIRD Box Tops cover, and first that I've actually liked - please note that the Ventures were more than happy to cover Alex Chilton material when he was on top of the world, but you didn't see them doing any Big Star covers when he really needed the royalties, did you? No you didn't. And why not? Because The Ventures are monsters, comparable only to those found in Hitler's Germany in 1941), Chad and Jeremy's "Theme From A Summer Place" (if that song was by Chad And Jeremy - I might be thinking of "A Summer Song". In fact, I'm almost positive I am. Damn.), Classics XXX's "Spooky," Tommy Roe's "Dizzy" (then somebody help him up! Ha! Did you get and enjoy my grammarcy joke?) and "Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In" from Jesus Christ Buttfucker or Hair or whatever the hell worthless shit hippy crap musical they were in. So yes, the song choice is splendid. Is that any reason to buy an album's worth of adequately performed instrumental cover tunes? If you find it for a dollar like I did, hells yeah!

By the way, do you know why the show was called Hawaii Five-O? Because each script was so erotically written that it was impossible to watch an episode without expeiencing five orgasms.

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Swamp Rock - Liberty 1969.
Rating = 7

Sounds like Hawaii Five-O to me, but who do I blow?

Jack Kemp. I blow Jack Kemp. But it's for love. He loves me.

The Ventures have now officially become a five piece, with the addition of keyboardist John Durrill. Come to think of it, he was pictured on the cover of More Golden Greats. I can't think about this right now - it's making my head explode. But yes, this album sounds like the last one, but with even more gumbo swamptime feel - more bottleneck slide guitar, horns and even accordion! Covers include "Honky Tonk Women," "Suspicious Minds," "Green River" and "Proud Mary." And they wrote three originals for this one, two of which are among the best songs on any album ever recorded! But don't tell that to fans of The Who. They're fanatical about the idea that there are no songs better than the nine featured on Who's Next, such as the timeless hardcore classic "Goin' Mobile." So fanatical, in fact, that they trampled a bunch of people on an episode of WKRP In Cincinnati in the seventies. Sometimes it's very important to remember that "fan" is short for "FANTASTIC!"

Reader Comments (Richard Wilson)
I remember that WKRP episode. Dude you are FUNNY.

Excellent stuff here. I don't have the patience. I am a lazy slob pig musician, but power to you my friend. The Ventures are GODS.'

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Golden Pops - Liberty 1970.
Rating = 5

The Ventures were huge in Japan. Or at least they appeared that way, standing next to all those dinky Japanese people!!!!

But all racism aside, The Ventures were extremely popular in Japan, possibly due to the fact that there was no language barrier problem - because both The Ventures and the Japanese speak Esperanto!!!

But seriously, no more joking back there in the peanut gallery - The Ventures were so popular in Japan that they ended up creating a whole ton of albums that were only available in that faraway land. UNTIL NOW! Now See-For-Miles Records has taken it upon themselves to make a whole THREE of these 20+ Japanese albums available to a worldwide audience! Thanks guys! So what you have here is the Ventures performing instrumental versions of popular Japanese songs of the day, by such renowned songwriters as "T. Kawamura" and ""T. Izumi" and "T. Miki." Silly me, I thought it was the BRITISH who were so obsessed with T (tea)!!!!!!!

We've had a lot of fun here today, but it's seriously about time that we sat down and seriously discussed the Ventures album Golden Pops. First of all, it all sounds like Japanese music. Minor-key, gentle, sorrowful little songs that all follow the same pattern (and quite often, the same chord sequence!). The performances are lovely - although Gerry McGee can't help but accidentally lapse into his bayou style for a few bars every once in a while, his work on here (both acoustic and electric) proves once and for all that he can play in as sensitive and smooth a style as our fine Mr. Edwards. No no, I mean NOKIE Edwards - not GEOFF Edwards, former host of TV's Treasure Hunt!!!!

You're all a bunch of pricks. Especially you - the one with the blue shirt. So yes, the performances are lovely, but I'm not giving the Japanese a whole lot of credit for being great songwriters, if this is the best that the Ventures had to choose from. Certainly a few tunes here and there make me feel the everlasting wonder of the Land of the Rising Sun ("Midnight Guitar" and "Forbidden Love," for example, are excellent little songs), but for the most part, it's just a bunch of variations on what appears to be an extremely limited genre of song. And not really one that I love all that much. The Ventures' original composition "Kyoto Doll," however, is fantastic (reminiscent of "Green Ginza," but no less the good for it!). So be sure and ask for it by name. Once again, it's called "I'm Going To Kill The President."

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10th Anniversary Album - Liberty 1970.
Rating = 6

It's a double-album full of awfully straightforward covers of popular late-60s pop rock songs, most of them gentle. No hard edges on this album. Very easy listening. Four Beatles covers, two Simon & Garfunkel songs, etc ad infinitum. Why can't Gerry McGee resist playing that twangy stuff? All the songs sound so sweet, gentle and beautiful (the guitar tones on both this and the last one rival the best stuff they did with Nokie, no joke) and then he starts dicking around like a hoedown guy and ruins the whole effect. But that's okay, because they work wonders with "Good Morning Starshine," "MacArthur Park," "Strangers In The Night" and best of all, that heaviest of all heavy metal songs ---- "Never My Love"!!!!!

Or, as I like to call it, "Here Comes My Man" by the Pixies.

Reader Comments (Richard Wilson)
Hey I really like your candid comments! While I was prepared to gloss over most of the text and the profanity, some of what you have to say is actually interesting. Incidentally, his name is GERRY MCGEE !!! Glad he’s with the Ventures – he’s a cool guy who is keeping the band going – currently touring Japan again with a new album. 10th Anniversary was one of Mel Taylor’s favorites, along with the Hawaii Five-O album; told me so himself. BTW, I am sure Mel loved it when Gerry was with the band, and glad he came back, because they just sounded smoother and tighter with him on lead – see Wild Again and WAII for classic Gerry. In my opinion, Nokie’s lead is spotty – infrequently he is mesmerizing, but all too often he is frankly boring and has a periodic timing problem – way too much Nashville for a surf-heavy instrumental band, too much Telecaster, and his style fits like a square peg in a round hole on all the sixties albums past Guitar Freakout. While the Taylor-Wilson-Bogle rhythm section was generally solid, check out the absolutely lame, unimaginative excuse for lead guitar on $1,000,000 Weekend – no wonder they found themselves on the top-forty list of the world’s most boring bands – and check out the dorky pictures on Super Psychedelics, again my previous comment. My favourites are the first two albums, Knock me out, Batman, Underground Fire, More Golden Greats, Hawaii Five-O, Rock n Roll Forever, Latin Album, Southern All-Stars, Wild Again and WAII and seeing them live, of course.

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New Testament - Liberty 1971.
Rating = 9

Awww it's the Ventures shakin' their funky groove ass! Honestly! It's a Latin-flavored album with lots of congas and shakity maracas and funky col' freshass guitar and lickity-split bass lines from getgo to shimmidydimmidy! Dig their ultra-chic covers of hot dogfuckers like "Oye Como Va," "Whole Lotta Love" and "What Is Life" and your sunscreen will be jive turkeyin' the mofo while stealing $100,000 worth of Whitey's Ice! Sheeeit, even the originals will get you off your feet and bouncin' around like a tush-tuckin' afro-possessin' freakazoid on angel dust! One of the songs even has vocals! VOCALS, I SAY! By The Ventures, America's premier instrumental band!

I don't mean to dwell, but there's just no logical reason for a 1971 Ventures album to be anywhere near this enjoyable. But it just is! You won't even believe it's The Ventures, it's so wack, deaf and col' medina! Peace! And I'm outta beer!

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Theme From Shaft - United Artists 1971.
Rating = 8

Still funky, but not Latin funky. Just like "Theme From Shaft" funky. "Gimme Some Lovin'" funky. "Never My Love" fu- wait a minute! That song appeared on 10th Anniversary Album! Why rerun it here? What is going on? Is this the Dark Ages?

There are a couple of atrocious originals on here, but they're more than made up for by the appearance of John Durrill's beautiful harmonic pop song "Deep, Deep In The Water" (with vocals!), the funkathon "Tight Fit" and sweet sweet "Cherries Jubilee," a 3:30-song with a bass line so simple and serene yet soulful and sickly CATCHYASS that it just makes you want to listen to the song over and over and over again until your penis lops off into your hand. Look, I listen to music my way, you listen to it your way. We're not here to judge each other. Leave that to Christians and their evil, murderous God. Holy shit! I just noticed that Red Rhodes plays steel guitar on here! He was fuckin' Mike Nesmith's fuckin' steel guitarist!

In short, The Ventures are totally settin' out to make you move your feet here in the early seventies. The guitarwork can lapse into that bayou crap every once in a blue moon, but mostly he's just playing mad licks (and, obviously, the vocal lines of the song, as the lead guitar in The Ventures has always done) to support the groovy rhythm section - seriously though - knowing what you know about The Ventures, would you ever have dreamt that they could make not just adequate funky dance music, but GREAT funky dance music? I mean, this stuff rocks, but it's just so damn boogie-able! And it's the friggin' VENTURES! The "Walk, Don't Run" guys! And perhaps I should be saying all this for New Testament because that one is REALLY groovy. This album is still funky, but a little calmer and poppier too - sort of a cross between the last two albums, if you will do me the divine honor of believing a word I say.

Which reminds me - can you imagine the hilarity and sense of entitlement that I experienced deep within myself when I walked down the street yesterday morning and saw that the headline on the front of the New York Post read "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue"? Sure, it was referring to drug-fuelled murders on the West Side, but that's a Ventures song title they're referring to!!!!!!!! It's just like when I was reviewing GG Allin and the cover of the Post said "Ass Fuckin' Butt Suckin' Cunt Lickin' Masturbation"! Quite frankly, it's astonishing that Hillary still got elected after that one.

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Pops In Japan '71- Liberty 1971.
Rating = 6

How could popular music in Japan change so much in one year? Most of this just sounds like sissyass American music like the Carpenters or the Captain & Tennile or Bread or other bands who are gentle and filled with love. But not many of them sound like they're from Japan. They don't! Why? What is happening? When you listened to this, did you think "CHINKS!" No! And that's because you're sensitive enough to know that a word like that is not only geographically incorrect, but racially insensitive. And you can't go around calling people names that will make them feel bad. The Ventures have known this since the beginning and have always used racially neutral terms such as "Americanally Challenged" and "Inferior But Only Because Of Skin Color." See, The Ventures are a good set of people. This album is gentle. And it's okay. You will hear things you've never heard before. But not necessarily on this album. You will probably hear them in other places. For example, underwater or on a sidewalk.

The guitars sound nice and you will be calm. But all the songs don't sound the same like on the last Japanese-oriented (or should that be "orientaled!" ha ahahhah1 f HAHFAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

All of that laughter was false. Text-only laughter with no bearing on my actual state of happiness or unhappiness. Some of the songs are good. Some are boring. There's this one really good one called "Nagoya Express" that ROCKS! The others don't rock. But the guitar tones are really nice and they are Japanese. Oh! Excuse me, they prefer to be known as "Nipponese." For example, you might enjoy a nice "Cheese Nip(ponese)" when you get home from school today. I say "school" instead of "work," because most of my readers are young people. This is not because young people are more internet-savvy, but because I have the mentality of a four-year-old, and a lot of 18-year-olds are reminded of their youths by my hilarious jokes about my huge fucking cock. Which is actually of average length and maybe slightly less than average width. It's no great shakes. I certainly feel no pride in it. I'm not embarrassed by it, but it's my phallus and it's not tiny, thank God. And sometimes it works. I mean, when I pee, it sometimes works. Unless I'm trying to use a urinal. Then I get all nervous and can't operate. I get nervous a lot, but I can't imagine that it's really my fault. It must be genetic. Because surely I am better than that.

I'm going to make a shocking revelation here: I'm drunk.

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Pops In Japan - EMI 1971.
Rating = 5

Beware the consumer! There are apparently several different albums and CDs of this title. The one I have is what I believe to be a re-release of the original 1966 Pops In Japan LP (available, of course, only in Japanville), along with eight bonus tracks from the other two Pops albums I've reviewed here, and maybe a few from somewhere else, I don't know. I don't have the English song titles either, so I can only tell you that every song title is a variation of "Ah Hoy Yoy Yoy Yoy Yoy!" with your eyes all squinty.

That was racist. Don't having laughed at that.

The music's mostly pretty dull. The Japanese must enjoy boring music with predictable, tired melody because that's pretty much all you get here. Soft and gentle - and BLAND. Like easy listening dentist office bland. Some of them have that "Eastern" feel to them; others are just like Lawrence Welk music or something. What the hell is wrong with everybody who wasn't born in our country anyway?

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Joy-The Ventures Play The Classics - United Artists 1972.
Rating = 8

According to the official Ventures web site, this is Bob Bogle's favorite Ventures album and, quite frankly, it's easy to see why - oh excuse me brief typo, I meant it's easy to see your wife naked. I just point my high-powered binoculars to your best friend's bedroom window at about 3:30 in the afternoon. The album is The Ventures doing 4/4 pop/rock versions of popular classical music. And it works! I still think it would have been more interesting to hear the mid-60s Ventures doing this, you know, just with "guitars." Because this album is really heavy on the keyboards and string-sounding instruments and stuff. But every song's main melody is played on the guitar in that fine Ventures fashion, and the rock and roll drumbeats are cool as shit. I would never in my life consider listening to Bach or Beethoven, but stick a snappy rhythm on top and I'll be dancing down the highway! Especially if I am high on PCP!

If you don't think you know enough classical music to enjoy this record, you've got another think coming. Perhaps you don't know them by name, but I'm certain that a good 90% of you (for a total of 4.5 readers) will immediately recognize "Melody Of Joy," "Elise," "Mozart's Minuet," "Mozart Forty," "Peter And The Wolf, "Bach's Prelude" and "Beethoven's Sonata In C# Minor." The other five songs are obscure chestnuts that only hardcore classical music aficionados with huge libraries will recognize, like "Swan Lake" and "Ravel's Pavane." What the fuck ever, guys! Dust those cobwebs as thee will! Swish away those wrinkly old clothes to unleash a brand new day below! So hold the REO Speedwagon, radio programmers - this is "classic rock"!

While we're on the subject of REO Speedwagon, what kind of an asshole would name an album You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can't Tune A Fish?

While we're on the subject of assholes, did you read about that middle-aged mother who led hundreds of Internet users to believe that she was a teenage girl dying of leukemia - for TWO YEARS??? Granted, you should never really believe that anybody is who they seem on the Internet (for example, Rich Bunnell is actually a goldfish that just hops out of its bowl at night to run my web site), but still - what kind of used-up, desperate old douchebag would toy with people's emotions like that for two years? I mean, all these people were reading the girl's online diary and praying for her and calling her on the phone and asking to come visit and stuff. And this bitch mother would just pretend she was the girl and say, "No, please don't come visit now! I'm about to go back into the hospital!" The readers would even send her gifts and stuff, like baseball caps to cover her chemotherapy-created bald head. Even the guy who ran the web site didn't know that the girl was just a lying old fucking idiot whore. God, what a bitch. Now I understand that there are much, much worse people in the world - this woman actually didn't physically hurt or abuse anybody, as far as I know. But don't you think it was a little mean? Tell me your thoughts. I want to know exactly how you feel about this insensitive woman and her album Joy - The Ventures Play The Classics.

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Rock And Roll Forever - United Artists 1972.
Rating = 6

Fed up with the endless bitching and moaning from Don Wilson about how tickly his big bushy early-70s beard was, John Durrill and Gerry Pacemaker (I forgot his name for a moment and have no interest in trying to remember it - he's a member of our past now anyway) left the band after Joy - The Ventures' Dishwashing Detergent, leaving Don, Bob and Mel to pull it together as a sneery, bitter old trio. Undetermined, they brought in some guest players like hilarious comedian Harvey Mandel and put together an album that doesn't sound like anything at all in their catalog. It's like - rock and roll - but not Bentures rock and roll. Oh hell, I hit a "B" there.

This is rock and roll like an Elvis producer might have created in 1957. The drums are crisp as hell, the guitar has a tone completely unlike any Ventures album (it's meaner but in like a rockabilly way - more Link Wray than Nokie Edwards) and the main melodic instrument is a SAXOPHONE! The production is astonishingly clear and raw and voices in the background keep shouting "Yeah!" and "Aw right!," creating an environment so powerful that if you close your eyes, you feel like you're right there in the studio with them, smoking a syringe of heroin and watching `em lay down these loose, lazily-paced but "cool" classic rock songs from yesteryear. Dig you some "Honky Tonk," re-recordings of "Last Night," "Ram-Bunk-Shush" and "Raunchy" that don't sound a WHIT like the Ventures' original covers of them, a little "Rumble," some "Sleep Walk," a shake `n bake of "You Can't Sit Down" - wicked! The only problem is that, as they date back to the very beginning of rock and roll as a genre, a lot of these tunes aren't among the most interesting songs ever penned (do the empty rudimentaries of "Smokie," "20-75" and "Soul Twist" even count as "songs"?). These are REALLY old songs, you understand. From like the `50s.

As opposed to the previous album Joy - The Ventures Play The Classics, which was a bunch of songs that were written exactly one day before The Ventures covered them.

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Only Hits - United Artists 1973.
Rating = 6

NOKIE's BACK! But now Mel's gone? Aw christ. I can't win for losing! So here we are with The Venture's Only Hits! Ignore the name. Not to mention the apostrophe error, which appears on the album cover not once but TWICE. This is NOT a greatest hits album. Rather, it's a double-album of what I guess were hits at the time, but I'll be darned if I've ever heard more than half of these 23 songs in my life. It's split down the middle between ballads and funky rockers (but not the organic sounding funky stuff from New Testament - this sounds like cocaine-fueled late night drunken studio disco funk with them Stevie Wondery keyboard organs and sleazy wah-wah and crap). Nokie totally doesn't sound like he used to, nor does he sound like a country/western guy. He just sounds like a normal everyday session musician! Playing the riffs he's supposed to play, with a little bit of soul and a little bit of attitude. Much like Gerry Rafferty (I forgot his last name again - have you seen that movie Memento? I'm that guy.) except less swampy. The main difference fans will note on this album, however, is the drums. New drummer Joe Barile, aside from looking 14 years old, has a completely different style than Mel did. About the furthest away that a drummer can possibly be from "crisp," this guy hits lots of bassy drums (I have no clue anything about drums so don't ask me what he's hitting), so that, instead of the expected "smacka smacka smacka" drum roll, you get this odd "thubba thubba thubba" thing like he's beating on a barrel. Which I suppose he might be, considering how income-lacking the Ventures most likely were at this point in their career.

So here are the songs I recognize: "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (although I only knew it as "that music they played on The Electric Company right before the big monolith crumbled into a number or letter or some crap - god I used to love that show. Remember that bitch female movie director character? "HEY YOU GUUUUYS!" I didn't even know what a lesbian WAS back then!), McCartney's "My Love" and "Live And Let Die," Wonder's "Superstition" and "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life," Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly With His Song," "Dueling Banjos" from Deliverance, Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" from his Live At Folsom Prison LP, "The Twelfth Of Never" (although I only knew it as "that song the beatnik dude sings on the steps in Animal House that makes John Belushi smash his guitar against the wall"), "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" and an upsettingly herky-jerky nonfunky rendition of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein." The rest of these tunes though - NOT OF MY ERA! What is "Soul Makoosa"? Why are there two different songs by some guy named "Gilbert O'Sullivan"? And most importantly, why do they only do ONE song from The Poseidon Adventure instead of covering the entire movie?

Reader Comments (James A. Gardner)
What kind of jag-packet did United Artists put in charge of naming albums? "Only Hits" is surpassed as a title only by your following entry, "The Jim Croce Songbook." What marketing Einstein came up with that? I'd be more apt to buy something called "Jim Croce's Odor-Eater Insoles" or "Jim Croce's Relaxed Fit Lounge Trousers" ... but that's me, I suppose. "Only Hits"? Except maybe for the ones that weren't? Like "Last Tango In Paris"? That was a hit? "Also Sprach Zarathustra" a HIT?! Maybe they meant in the "pass the bong" sense of the word. Truth in labeling would seem to call for something along the lines of "Only Hits, and some other stuff" ...

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The Jim Croce Songbook - United Artists 1974.
Rating = 3

Beautiful, ringing acoustic guitars, soothing arrangements, lush strings.... but they're all Jim Croce songs, for the love of God! They all sound absolutely IDENTICAL to each other! I mean, come on. "Time In A Bottle"? "Bad Bad Leroy Brown"? "Don't Mess Around With Jim"? They might as well have done an album of Bread songs.

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Keep On Breadin'!: The Ventures Play Classic Bread Songs - United Artists 1974.
Rating = 7

I'm just grabbing your ass! This album doesn't exist at all! HA INDEED!!!!

Sometimes I am quite the Bob Hope extravaganza.

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The Ventures Play The Carpenters - United Artists 1974.
Rating = 7

I don't listen to The Carpenters any more often than I listen to Jim Croce, but it's still pretty clear just through listening to these Ventures albums that the Carpenters were much more talented melodians. The guitar tones are dreadfully beautiful and suckily gorgeous, and the strings and pianos and such help to create a romantic, peaceful rainy Sunday afternoon feeling. Not just that though - a lot of these melodies are toe-tappingly singalongalovable! "We've Only Just Begun," "Bless The Beasts And The Children," "Top Of The World," "Sing," "Superstar," "Close To You" - these are such pretty soft rock classics! The rest are a little less memorable, but none are bad. I say buy it, if only for the ringing, singing axes of dandy.

Ever the consummate method actor, Bob Bogle was skinny as SHIT around the time they recorded this album.

How come nobody laughs at my hilarious anorexia jokes anymore?

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Hollywood Metal Dynamic Sound 3000 - United Artists 1976.
Rating = 7

This was apparently originally an album that the Ventures recorded with vocals by some high-faluting Japanese fellow, but they re-released it later with the lead guitar turned up as this thing with the funny title. These songs are mostly rock and roll classics from yesterville - "Johnny B. Goode," "Hound Dog," "House Of The Rising Sun," "Lucille," "Rip It Up," "When The Saints Go Marching In" - but performed in a karaoke-like fashion. I'm serious - aside from the super-shiny, sleek, sparkling lead guitar (which appears to be doubled in some of these tracks), the music sounds like karaoke! Cheesy horns, dumb fake-sounding mix - it's almost as if Nokie climbed onstage in a Japanese karaoke bar and just started soloing to all the songs!

Which brings me to my main complaint about the record - the guitar tone is topsnotch and the rhythm track is hilarious enough to enjoy, but dear GOD is there too much dull guitar soloing on this record. See, I LIKE the vocal melodies from these songs. I enjoy hearing the Noke-ster playing them on his six-string of America. But he only plays one or two verses of each before he just starts doodling around aimlessly like Eric Clapton or something, hiccuping and jickity-twanging all these really dull, unseemly collections of notes, ruining not only the melody but the TONE in the process. But, like I said, the lead guitar was apparently turned way down in the original version with vocals, so he probably figured nobody would ever hear it.


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Rocky Road - United Artists 1976.
Rating = 6

Ventures go DICSO! Apparently the producer wanted a DSICO album so he brought in these other musicians (DCISO strings and horns and such) and a background choir of DIOCS singers to make a dance hall fantasy love come into being! According to Mr. Bob Bogle on the official Ventures web site, the Ventures were none too happy with the results (which may be part of the reason that it is the ONLY Ventures album before or since that is credited to "The New Ventures"). But I think it's alright! You can dance and shake your ass, and still slightly make out some Ventures guitar buried way in the background! That's an interesting point - the guitars aren't actually playing disco at all. It's just that all the music around them is disco, so the guitarwork is kind of doomed to 1976 by association.

If you need further indication of how little say the Ventures had in the sound of this album, check out the songwriting credits. Bogle and Wilson get co-songwriting credits for exactly ONE of these seven songs - a song called "The Stroke" that focuses its attention, quite lewdly, on jacking your bean. ALL NIGHT LONG! V. Burch, J. Marmelzat and D. Diante, on the other hand, get songwriting credits for FIVE of the 7 songs. Who the hell are these people? D. Diante produced the album. Presumably Burch and Marmelzat were a couple of his coke-snorting nightclub scumbuddies. Does it come as any surprise to anybody that the two best songs on here were both covers? Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade" is a superfun disco jive groove and "Daylight".... hmm. Truly enjoyable song, credited to B. Womack and H. Payne. Who is Bobby Womack again? Was he a soul guy? Help a guy out here! I can't do this all by myself! My eye is going to bleed from the stress!


Oh hang on - no sorry, I just accidentally tipped over the cup of Kool-Aid that was resting on my head.

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T.V. Themes - United Artists 1977.
Rating = 6

Not just TV Themes - DISCO TV Themes!!!! That's right! Just what you've always dreamt of - funkyass bass-heavy disco shit versions of "Police Woman," "Starsky and Hutch" and "Baretta"!!! Bar-fuckin-Etta!!!! That guy that just killed his wife!!!! Why are The Ventures supporting a murderer??? Why not just put out an album called The Ventures Play The OJ Simpson Playbook???? I'll tell ya why - because the fuckin Communists are fuckin fascist Nazis!

I apologize for the heated political discussion in which I just found myself engaged. Please let me return now to discussing the LP at hand. The LP does not suffer from its disco properties - in fact, it's a hilarious hoot to enjoy disco renditions of such classic themes as "Charlie's Angels," "Star Trek" and especially "MASH," which revolves around this wildbutt bass thing that'll drive you mad. So the problem aint the disconess at all (there's enough guitars in here to make it Venture-riffic - it's just the bass, drums and corny horn/string embellishment that make it disco - oh, and the fact that they keep doing this stupidass echoed finger running down a guitar string in like every song. I'm not sure why that would be considered a disco cliche, but apparently the Ventures felt that it was, and who am I to argue with the top-selling instrumental band in history?) - the problem is the tunes they pick. Not only are theme songs like "The Streets of San Francisco," "Medical Center" and "SWAT" completely lost on most of today's listeners - they kinda SUCK too. Just bland songs. Even dancey, they're bland.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to tug on a small rope while my puppy tugs on the other end with his teeth.

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In The Vaults - Ace 1997.
Rating = 8

When you hear how great these rare tracks are, you're gonna do this: 87O because you're wearing glasses and you're so surprised. And then you'll do this: :7) because you've removed your glasses and are happy. Then you'll do this: ;7D because you live in Apartment 7D and a semi-colon is at the door. This is a collection of 26 non-LP tracks recorded between 1959 and 1977, and the quality of these tunes is just amazing. They ALL sound like vintage Ventures! No matter what year they were recorded! Luscious guitar tones, dire hooks, candy corn production - it's a darn must-own and it's not even a real album! If for no thing else, you gots to own their cover of "Paint It Black," don't you? I think so.

I like to be a thinker, so here's something else to think about: I can't tell the difference between fatigue and depression. I honestly can't. Can you?

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Latin Album - United Artists 1979.
Rating = 4

Latin! But not shuffly madcap Latin like New Testament. This is gentler, discoey, boring Latin stuff. "Cuando Calienta El Sol," "Begin The Beguine," "Quiereme Mucho" - thingies like that. Guitar tones nice, melodies almost non-existent. Sure, you can't go wrong with "Guantanamera" and a few others slice and dice like a Spanish whore on crack, but most of it sounds more like adult ez listening than Latin music, to my rears. Except "Poinciana," which sounds like The Fall!!!! Truly! Sounds like it came straight off of Extricate.

I think Mel Taylor may have returned for this one, reuniting the four classic Ventures. And believe you me, they came back with a BANG!!!!

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The Best Of The Ventures - Tridex 1980.
Rating = 8

A compilation of old Ventures classics, you suspect? NO! It's RE-RECORDINGS of Ventures classics! HA! I guess they were so "siced" to have Mel and Nokie back, they figured they should take advantage of it before Nokie quit again (which he did, the independently minded frig). By the way, I should point out that this was when the Ventures catalog became completely impossible to follow, mainly because most of their records were Japan-only releases. There are still SEVERAL that I don't own (Chameleon, Flying High and Play Seaside Story, to name just a few), but I'm checking ebay constantly so just enjoy what I have here and if you happen to own any of the ones that aren't here, make me CDRs because that's the neighborly thing to do.

As for this thing, it does in fact contain re-recordings of a bootlood of terrific songs from Ventures days gone by, including pretty much everything you'd expect so why name names? Only two of the songs are Ventures compositions, which isn't surprising, but is a little disappointing for folks like me who know that, regardless of what the band itself would have you believe, they've written a whole slew of great songs during their still-active career. Although I don't agree with the owner of the record store where I bought this album, who warned me that the recording is a little "cheesy," I do agree that it's much dryer than the original recordings. Difficult to explain, but it seems like, although the playing is PERFECT, there's not enough bass or reverb or vibrato or something. Something about it just sounds slightly amateurish. Like there's no atmosphere, just guys playing instruments. Luckily, they're playing good instruments! But that's still no excuse for re-recording both "Walk Don't Run" and "Walk Don't Run '64." In fact, they even played both when I saw them live a few years ago. Are we all just supposed to be idiots or something? All they do is add a 10-second intro and some "surf" guitar swoops. IT'S THE SAME GODDAMNED SONG!!!!!

By the way, I did a search for "Mark Prindle" tonight and found not only that my site had been picked as a Yahoo! Site of the Day in April, but that TWO different people, in reviewing my site, call my writing style "contrived"! Well, there's only thing i can say to that: Poop on my Penis!

So how does it feel reading the web site of a celebrity? Don't get too close to the flame - you might get burned!

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Hits! Up To Date - EastWorld 1981.
Rating = 7

The Ventures were a four-piece rock and roll band from Tacoma, Washington. This was one of their Japanese albums - more re-recordings of old Ventures cover classics, but with some surprises this time round! I don't know about the Japanese, but I doubt that many Americans have heard a good FIVE of these 13 tracks - "Le Dernier Train De L'Espace," "Pike," "Salty Dog," "Black Sand Beach" and "xTE,_7*x7-iL9AA%*T" aren't available on any of our hometown releases! Which is too bad, because "The Ass Train Of Space" and "The Bunch Of Japanese Characters" are excellent, cute songs, and "Black Sand Beach" is like "Strychnine" with a lead guitar! But alas, one must seek out Japanese releases to enjoy such wonders of mature.

My open yen about this album is pretty straightforward: How many friggin times do we need to hear these same songs? "Walk Don't Run `64" again? "Telstar" again? It's not enough to say, "Oh, but `Telstar' has a saxophone in this version!" Because the saxophone sounds terrible in the song. The corny early'80s synths, gutless mix and occasional reggae-tinged rhythms don't help the album either. But isn't it amazing how an album can survive even the lousiest, overly chorused guitar sound and way-too-airy-spacey production if the songs themselves are well written songs? I still don't need "California Dreamin'" or "Runaway," just as I didn't need "House Of The Rising Sun" on The Best Of The Ventures (these songs don't fit the Ventures aesthetic, and would be better left in the `60s, if you ask me), but "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue" still sounds beautiful, the rare songs are a treat of goodness and the lengthy, live version of "Caravan" demonstrates that Mel was still doing his patented "drumsticks-on-the-bass-strings" solo twenty years later!

Actually, his SON replaced him when he passed away in the late `90s, and now HE does that gimmick trick. Which is fun to watch, but kind of quaint when you think about it. How about updating it for the new century? Maybe a little "drumsticks-shoved-in-an-audience-member's-eye"? Ooo! Or how about "peeing-in-the-bass-drum-and-throwing-it-out-into-the-crowd-while-shouting-`If-you-love-us-you'll-kill-these-puppies!'"? You don't have to thank me now! Just watching you win that Pulitzer Prize will be all the thanks I need.

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Last Album On Liberty - Liberty 1982.
Rating = 5




Hi! Can I speak to Bob Piss please?"

"I think you dialed the wrong number. There's no one here but us chickens."

"If Bob Piss arrives home, can you please tell him that this album isn't worth him?"

"Will do! Thanks for calling!"

I tire of The Japanese, and of the things they do to the Ventures to make them badder. This album is VERY RARE, and will NEVER BE FOUND BY ANYBODY and I buried my copy in the ocean for safekeeping. It was the last album by any band on Liberty Records - Japan Unit. It's pretty bland too!!!!!

There are some people who think the Ventures would have been better if they had Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull in the band, because he could contribute both annoying flute noise and shitty British fag vocals (vocals by somebody smoking a cigarette). But I couldn't agree more/less. I just listened to Thick As A Brick for the first time and thought to myself, "They'd be a darn good band if they'd get rid of Ian Anderson!" Musically, they were tight as a n*n's *a**ot*e and prog as a Genesis album like Abacab. But let's return to the give-or-take rare Ventures album, which was available to the yellow people (that is, people of all nationalities covered in urine) for a very short period in 1982, when Big Country was Pop's king and Three's A Crowd had America by the heartstrings. The mix (on the Ventures album) is pristine - very laid back with a terrific, professional-sounding, full, deep mixture of electric pianos/organs and both acoustic and electric guitars. And some of the songs actually do the trick too! The gorgeous "Amanda's Theme" and nice relaxed pop tune "Warm Hearts" start things off with a Carpenters-style tooth and a smile. But from then on, it's more ups and downs than trying to have sex with Britney Spears and then realizing she's a guy but not really caring but then caring. With a clear Japanese feel to the proceedin's, the album too often falls back on slow, dull forgettable pap smear whose hackneyed, tired changes you can predict well before they occur. Nobody but a harried yuppie businessman looking for meditation music (my uncle Rusty, 1982, Ray Lynch's Deep Breakfast -- still beats my uncle Jack, who every single time I see him, asks me if I can teach him how to play "Squeeze Box," a song that, as far as I can tell, is "E-A-E-A-E-A" for about four minutes) could enjoy tunes as empty as "Papa" (come on - "Papa"?), "I Will Never Leave You" (I mean, come on - "I Will Never Leave You"?), "Really Something Nice" (look - i mean, come on - "Really Something Nice?"), "Don't Say Goodbye" (Jesus christ, look - i mean, come on - "Don't Fart In My Salad"?). In finale, Last Album On Liberty may be rare, but not as rare as the ENJOYABLE TRACKS you'll find on it. In 1982 - a year when they could have and SHOULD have done a wickedass instrumental version of "Veteran Cosmic Rocker," a shitty Moody Blues song, they stuck with FUNK ballads and Oriental cocaine easy listening Crappisms. I don't need plush leather couches, a mustache and a Screwdriver! Where's the surfboard and Space UFO on which I depend on The Ventures for?

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St. Louis Memory - Eastworld 1982.
Rating = 7

Another Japanese album. And great news! It's got brand new re-recordings of "Slaughter On 10th Avenue," "Pipeline," "Runaway," "House Of The Rising Sun" and... you ready for this? That's right! "Walk Don't Run `64"! TOUCHDOWN!!!!

Ah but I can't complain much. Half of these songs are brand new anyway, at least in our domestic market. The guitar tone is still lacking power though, and doesn't sound very good at all. The whole thing just sounds wimpy. No guts. Tinny, poppy drums - almost no bass - and oversheened but overly QUIET guitars. Ickypoo Park. But whatever. I mean, it's the Ventures playing songs that everybody already knows are great. If you've never heard the Ventures and you see this in a store cheap, you could do worse. Most of the songs are good, even if the production makes it sound like it was recorded by a bunch of 45-year-olds.

Hey now don't you start in with the facts and figures!!!!

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Movie Themes - Airway Alternatives 1983.
Rating = 6

This must be a bootleg of some sort, because, although there are a couple of Ventures albums called Movie Themes, this is not one of them. This is a James Bond-themed album. Seven of the songs are James Bond movie theme songs and the other five are Ventures originals made up to sound like James Bond theme songs. The music itself sounds great (guitar-centric delivery, tones straight out of the sixties, no corny synths or karaoke-esque backgrounds like on the Japanese `80s albums I've heard), but the recording on this album definitely sounds like it was bootlegged from another recording (quieter than usual, maybe even mono sound). It starts off super-promising, but then you start to notice that the Ventures compositions are really iffy. Aside from the cleverly titled "Dr. Yes" (and by "cleverly," I don't, in fact, mean "cleverly"), the Bond-flavored melodies they come up with on here don't come close to either their past glories or classic real-life James Bond themes like "Goldfinger," "Dr. No" and "Thunderball" (although they're certainly as good as the instantly forgettable "From Russia With Love" theme, which hasn't exactly been passed down from generation to generation through scrolls and oral storytelling).

So I don't know what this is. I don't even know who PLAYS on it, since all the originals are credited to "Bogel (sic! sic!), Wilson, Taylor" (no Nokie or Gerry?). But you're a big Ventures fan, so I'm sure you know all about it. You were probably there when they recorded it. As you know, I couldn't make it because I was celebrating my tenth birthday party and meeting some guy from the Waltons I'd never heard of.

Reader Comments (Del Halterman)
It's not the Ventures, except for the drums and David Carr on Keyboards.

This was originally a Mel Taylor solo album titled "007 James Bond" released in Japan on Tokuma Records' DAN label [# VC-7501 April 1972]. Big photo of Sean Connery on the cover, more inside gatefold, and a small head shot of Mel. (You'll have to read the book to find out how this bootleg came about.)

Want a Ventures Punk record? According to the punkers, everything the Ventures did was punk in the '80s. The kids kept bugging record stores for material by this new punk instro group they were hearing on Rodney Bingenheimer's L.A. radio show, called The Ventures!

Jeez, can you actually listen to the noise on "Ramonetures?" I fired that puppy back onto eBay as fast as I could! Keep buyin those Ventures discs! And hey, nobody's gonna think yer uncool if you admit yer addicted to these guys.

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Stars On Guitars - Snapper 1998.
Rating = 7

DON'T LEAVE THE HOUSE YET - THIS IS OF DEATHLY IMPORTANCE! There are, in factual, two different Ventures releases with this title. One is an EP with like five songs that came out in the early 80's. This one is a British-market double-CD compilation of studio and live tracks released in Japan in the `80s and `90s. You'll get a riot act out of hearing their stupid covers of stupid dated songs like "Axel F/Miami Vice" and "St. Elmo's Fire," but for the most part this is yet another case of hearing newly re-recorded, softened versions of Ventures cover tunes you've already heard a hundred billion times if you've been following their career at all. "Walk Don't Run `64"? "House Of The Rising Sun"? "Slaughter On 10th Avenue"? You got it, Bing Harrison. All complete with a reunited Gerry's unpleasantly-chorused guitar and ol' man Taylor's horrid, repulsive electronic drum pads in tow. Again, if you've never heard the Ventures, you'll totally enjoy the great hooks that drench this record in goodness from intro to posthumous goodbyes, but if you have as many Ventures albums as me, you probably won't find much reason to listen to it all that often.

What the hell am I saying? "If you have as many Ventures albums as me...." All the band members put together don't have as many Ventures albums as me.

I had something I was wondering about. May we speak about this for a brief moment? Here is the issue of which I am referring at: Do people still consider sunglasses to be "cool"? I mean, I haven't since I was about ten years old (back when Huey Lewis and David Lee Roth made them seem so hip), but I swear I still see so many people wearing them on overcast days, not to mention ridiculously dumbassed movie posters like "The Matrix" and dozens of others that feature the "cool" action stars wearing sunglasses. I just think they look stupid, quite frankly. Even when I wear them for practical purposes in the summertime, I feel like an asshole doing it. It just reeks of "really dumb people whose idea of `cool' hasn't changed since they were 12 years old" to me. What's your opinion or fact on this pressing social issue of our times?

And feel free to respond with a huge blast of hi-energy techno music, as if you were the trailer for any action movie created between 1998 and the present day.

Reader Comments
I'd give the double disc set a eight, but that extra point comes entirely from humor value, for me at least. After all, is there any funnier moment in the Ventures catalog than during the cover of Paint It Black (or Paint In Black, as the tray card would have you believe) than when out of nowhere, Mel starts banging on the electric drums? I think not. Many of the songs on the covers disc, namely St. Elmo's Fire, It's My Party, Pretty Woman and Axel F, are so fucking laughably dated and bad that they must be heard. The super-mellow version of Stand By Me is decent, though. And the live disc... how can it be billed as the disc of "originals" when the Ventures only wrote half of them? My biggest beef with the two-disc set is that Journey To The Stars only appears in part during a medley.

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Wild Again! - 1996.
Rating = 7

The first easy-to-find-in-the-States new Ventures album in 20 decades! "Rock Concerto In A Minor" is the only original on here, but it's a good one, and better yet, it's surrounded by a truckload of excellent, quite possibly obscure covers including "Baja," "Quiet Village" and "Petite Fleur." I'm certain that the world wasn't calling its local disc jockeys requesting new Ventures renditions of "James Bond Theme" and "Beethoven's Fourth Symphony," but the rest of the CD stays away from such "Greatest Hits" nonsense that made their `80s work a little questionable. Plus it's 74 minutes long and includes the "Surf On Guitar Medley," a "hip" dance remix of the "Surf On Guitar Medley" and a real-life Ventures interview!

So it could have and probably should have sucked, the band members all pushing 60 and all, but with a mixture of excellent & diverse material, lovely playing, good energy, swell surf guitar tones and (for the most part) a much fuller, deeper mix than could be found on the Japanese albums (the ones I've heard anyway). There are certainly moments of inexcusable corniness ("Quicksilver" is...ahh... well it's the Lone Ranger Theme, I suppose. But put into a Japan-style pop context. Eww!), but you'll be pleased to hear that Ventures pushing 60 sound awfully similar to Ventures 1960.

Reader Comments
Baja is a pretty well-known surf song originally by the Astronauts, and theirs is much better than the bass-heavy Ventures version. Beethoven Five-Oh gets my vote for coolest orchestral adaptation ever, and I kind of like their version of the Bond theme, which completely contradicts much of your review. Woo hoo! Good job, me!

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New Depths - 1997.
Rating = 6

This one is even more surf-musicy than the last one, but it sounds like it's tryiing to keep a low profile. So low, in fact, that there are very few high points. With the notable exceptions of an over-hyped, horrid collaboration with a Japanese girl group called The Rice Girls (a joke as racist as any that I've ever made) and a couple of great `60s covers ("I Fought The Law" and "Time Is Tight," both of which, oddly enough, were also covered by The Clash!), most of this CD just sounds like adequate, predictable spy/surf music. The addition of Mel's son on drums (god rest Mel's soul) helps give a tighter, tougher feel to the production (not to mention a welcome lack of drum pads!), but the melodies are no better than anything you might hear by any of today's numerous third-generation underground surf bands. A band like this is only as good as their song selection, and this batch is a little too straightforward. Great guitar tones and playing though!

Speaking of The Clash, how come The Ventures never did a punk album? And don't try to argue that at age 40, they were too old to cash in on that fad, because they put out TWO disco albums at that age. Luckily for those of us who wonder what it might have sounded like, there is an album out called Ramonetures featuring wonderful instrumental surf/spy versions of a bunch of classic Ramones songs. I think that the band on it is the Phantom Surfers with Davie Allan playing lead, but don't quote me in an important article on that. Don't!

Reader Comments (Kirk Bjornsgaard)
Read through it. All of it. I did so on company time and it took me parts of three days, so that's fine by me.

Your humor and total lack of PC was refreshing, and I agree with most of your opinions about the Ventures musicianship, song selection (at times redundant and unfortunate), and your (apparent) preference for the "Fender" sound over the "Mosrite" sound. Thanks for your work on this.

Gilbert O'Sullivan was a pop singer who had all of two hits, in the summer and fall of '69 ("Alone Again (Naturally)" and "Jean") and then a radio-hit version of "Good Morning, Sunshine" from "Hair"). You had a bunch of other unanswered questions in your reviews but for some odd reason, that's the only one I can remember.

Any opinion on whether or not The Ventures should be inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame? (Bruce M.)
I haven't had this much fun in a long time. (pathetic, ain't I?) I stopped listening to the Venturos around Guitar Freakout - did I really miss much? I saw a home video from the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society from a couple years ago and guess who were the headliners?!!! And they played "Walk, Don't Run"! Surprise! The crowd loved them!

I really am pathetic because I sometimes sat and wondered if they ever surpassed "Slaughter on 10th Avenue".

You know what made these 2 hours (I'm a slow reader) the most fun: the obvious need that has gone unanswered for so many years that SOMEONE had to take on this daunting task - to review these albums and the career of the Dentures. I'm just glad it was you and not me and that you made it such an enjoyable experience. The other thing that always puzzled me about the band was Who in the hell picked out the cover designs of their albums? Man! They were usually so cheesy with a picture of some sexy 60's babe. Or on "Another Smash" with a masher who looks like Larry of the 3 Stooges swinging a violin at a guy! Maybe it was Nokie's warped sense of humor.

BTW, I OWNED a Mosrite (paid $150, $10 a week installment plan) and even though it didn't sound good, man it looked cool and I pine away for it at least once a year. Traded it in on a piece of crap Gibson SG because Terry Kath of Chicago played one. I gotta start thinking for myself one of these days.

But I digress... I have to go take some Xanax and get back to real life.


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In the Vaults Volume 2 - Liberty 1999.
Rating = 7

Lesson to remember: Generally if you find a CD with a title like In The Vaults Volume 2 or Coda II or Stuff We Found In The Garbage, Chapter Seventy-Four or Any Album At All By The Grateful Dead, you must realize and remember that these no sane, "with it" group would release these songs on real life "albums." They're the crap. The leftovers of the leftovers. And this CD is no different, except that it's good. You see the minor distinction then.

This is early Ventures material, mostly from the early 60s, and covers a wide range of forgettable pre- and early-rock tunes like "Deep Purple," "Tossin' And Turnin'," and "Travelin' Man." Did you know "Deep Purple" wasn't just the brilliant band that launched the lengthy, illustrious career of Tommy Bolin and Roger Glover of "The Mask" fame, but also an old people song for old people? Well that's the difference between you and me -- I know about the history of our great nation and you didn't even start rooting for us until the end of the season when it was obvious that we were gonna make the playoffs. And even THEN, you were more into the beer than the actual politics.

But enough about fucking. Let's talk about this new Ventures album. "Lites Out" is a hardcore punk song! Well, it's punk SPEED anyway. That Mel and/or Howie is NYHC-pounding like that guy in the Cro-Mags! NO! NOT HARLEY FLANAGAN!!!! HE WAS THE BASS PLAYER!!! I'LL FUCKING KILL YOU FO

Okay then. About the Ventures' latest studio LP, entitled Help! We're Locked In The Vaults And We're All Too Old And Weak To Pound On The Door! Volume 2 -- The last five songs kick ass. Neat spy music to keep your man at home and bellydance to. But too much of the rest is too early and generic to really rave and roll about. NOT THE SAME should be said about the guitar tones though. GORGEOUS, HEAVENLY guitar tones. Crisp, full, liquidy, twangy, reverby, tremeloey -- really wonderful. Seriously. Exotica that doesn't put me to sleep! Go Cut Creator Go!

Oh I'm sorry - Did I not mention that Bob Bogle left the band in 1989 to pursue an ill-advised solo rap career under the name Bee Bee King?

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The Ultimate Collection - See For Miles 2000.
Rating = 7

Can't talk now! Dog wants me to play with him!

Double CD! 46 rare tracks! Hard to find!

Last Album On Liberty in its entirety! Rarities from US singles and Japanese albums!

Dog looks sad! Gotta go!

Songs range from 63 to 92! "Minyo Disco North To South" is a 5 and a half minute long breakdown! Hear the theme from the highest grossing motion picture of all-time, Airport '75!

Gotta go! Dog!

"Dick Tracy"! "La Dernier Train De L'Space"! (or as "Weird Al" Yankovic might parody it, "La DERRIER Train De L'Space"). Gotta go! Dog all sad!

"Storefront Lawyers"! Some songs with weak vocals! Joe Barile-penned EZ listening crap! Disco version of "Walk Don't Run"! "Man With The Golden Gun," but not the Alice Cooper one!

Dog ate my living room! Growing larger and larger! Gotta go! Me so horny!

Oh - one other thing: Stay in school! A "dropout" is a "copout"!

Fuck, I just made that up. I'm an inspirational man!

Reader Comments (Jim R. Lopinto)
if the ventures aren't added to the rock & roll hall of fame, then, in my opinion, the judges are either tone deaf, totally deaf, or dead !

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Christmas Joy - Varese Sarabande 2002.
Rating = 8

What Christmas day joyful!

This is the Christmas day season and quite good time enjoys the holiday. The great is newer than Christmas day album is helpful the rock-and-roll belt by the long-distance race in the world, enterprise? Because the weather changes quite coolly, you will need some " the hot " music maintain you warm in these cold winters night.

And Christmas Joy is it!

Take possesses work the Christmas day classics which you likes specially " Venture " the -ized edition as the characteristic:

Jingle the bell

We wish your one Merry Christmas

Joyfully to the world

O Christmas tree (O Tannenbaum)

The silent night

and many!

Do not make the detention. The supply is limited and this set certainly fast goes. Delivers $19.95 arrives:

Vice President Cary E. Mance
Catalogs which A&R and permits
Vares Sarabande Records/Varese grape wine
11846 Ventura Blvd. Suite 130
Studios Cities, CA 91604

As a result of Nokie, Gerry, Bob, Dons and Leon, this was most " rockin ' " Christmas day ever!

Proposes when supplies continues.

Reader Comments (Eric Benac)
i read all your venture albums in one day and i feel like i know the band.

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Surfin' To Baja - Varese Sarabande 2004
Rating = 5


It's built on minor chords and corny keyboards, and just rearlearalrlaererleshj jlffjkjkfsdj Suckx. So it's four songs from Flyin' High, three each from Wild Agsin and Walk Don't Run 2000 (more like LAME 2000 LAMENESS if

Then two each from Wild Again II (brilliant title, and Acoustic Rock, one each from VGold III and Hyper V-Gold, and a few other songs from Condoleeza Rice's lying vagina.

Gerry McGee plays on 18 of these 19 tracks, the other has Nokie but it is bad. Lots of these songs are jus bad. How are these things "original" when they're the same damn minor-key song for Japanese rice-eacting take your shoes off before you come in the houses I lost my trainer. I am jkafpjs sheets to the wimp. And full of depression - my OCD has come back. My OCd hascome back. It has been gone for a while, but now it's back. OBSESSION OBSESSION OBSESSION OBSESSION. Not every life is opercefetret. In fact, I'd watger to guess that few are. Mine seemed great for a while, but not anymore. The brain is being a prick. Being a bad person. My wife wants to punch me. This CD is filled with beans and Ben Vereens. This is one of those things that will make people worry about me. Bottom line: Ventures album, mediocre because of OLD AGE. Mark Prindle's brain: On the fritz, hopefully only temporarily. Think of the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Got it? That's what my brain is focused on now. Not every second of the day (thank god - becuase it USED to be), but often enough that it makes me feel like a real fuckin 'loser. My wife has something to say:

She changed hermind. because she's Drunk AND EATIN drunk CHEICKENCNENCNENC.

fINISHEDNOTE: vENTUREs wrote great songs wneh n young, but not in their sitxties, for lo e's sake!!! come on! don't be a foo. like i was~! dn'tbuy this! GAH!

This review has been approved by Microsoft Word(TM)'s Illiterate SpellCheck.

Reader Comments
Hello there ~

Just so you know, I am glad it's "ONLY" your opinion about The Ventures' minor-chord songs. The group's "Pops in Japan" (aka "eleki pops") songs are among my absolute favorites and helped them tremendously with their popularity in Japan! The Ventures would come out with the hit songs, like "Ginza Lightsm" "Stranger in Midosuji," "Kyoto Doll," "Hokkaido Skies" and "Manchurian Beat," then a Japanese artist and/or songwriter would put words to the instrumental and it would be a hit all over again! "Surfin' to Baja" is among my favorite Ventures CD's and yes, I have known about most of these songs for 10 years or so.
hell i think your comments are truthful and above all a pleasure to read about time you updated it tho or carn't you be arsed nower days (Jim Alexander)
Hi: I was reading your comments on the ventures and thought I would make a comment of my own. I have been a venture fan since Walk Don't Run back in 1960. Of course I have to say I am partial to guitar music especially the surf guitar.When I was growing up in the 60's all my friends were Beatle fans Elvis The Beach Boys etc.anybody who sang not too many Venture fans however, my opinion is this. There were many instrumental groups that came and went during the 50's & 60's and to- day the Ventures are still playing, oh yes I am definately aware that they don't have the same members they started with however I am aware of this, It is not as easy to make it instrumentally as it is with vocal, but they done it. good bad or indifferent they done it, give them that anyway. Also there are tunes they play I wonder how other bands could handle them for exactness of sound I mean, example Diamonds on their surf album does anybody even know how they put that together for sound if they don't I'm not going to explain it because they would'nt understand or care anyway. The were many many songs that they put together, their own combination of thought that came up with a unique sound that could be called the Ventures sound. Like it or not they done well and their still at it to-day, I will at least give them that (Jim Alexander)
I have been a venture fan since 1960 and Walk Don't Run, I give them major thumbs up for their stick to it iv ness. Nowadays if you can't stand on the stage holler and scream you not with the in crowd. the ventures done it with virtually no singing and with their own incredible style of guitar playing. to me they will always # 1 whether anybody else thinks so or not
they are a great group. (Rob, UK)
Dear Mark

In all your reviews of countless Ventures albums you have missed possibly the best one.The Ventures 'Live In Japan '65' is for those who are not big fans of their tamer stuff (I'm not).In parts-especially Bumblee Twist/The Cruel Sea/Journey To The Stars it sounds like a punk band playing Ventures tunes.Give it a listen.
Hey Mark,

I caught the Ventures playing two weeks ago along with a mostly silver-haired Japanese audience at Nakano Sun Palace (which is famous for its astounding acoustics.) I have to admit, I was dubious, seeing as how they're all septugenarians (except for Leon Taylor) but, holy mother of fuck did they rock out. Seriously. I sat down with the wife in this big auditorium, surrounded by half-dozing retirees, and listened to the easy-listening versions of Ventures songs they were playing over the PA (ostensibly to get us psyched up for the show, I guess) and started to get very worried. Then the band comes out, rips into "The Cruel Sea" and I swear, it sounded like all those years of questionable synth-heavy re-recordings had never happened. They were, tight, fast, and super fucking LOUD! My wife was stunned. The guitar noises Don Wilson produced during "Penetration" (which, as you know, comes from their "Go Stooges with the Ventures" album) actually made my old lady nauseous. (I'm not sure what they did to all the other old ladies in attendance, but it must have been good seeing all the flowers and crap they threw on the stage at the end of the performance.) By the time we got to Gerry McGee's slow, mean, ass-kicking rendition of "House of the Rising Sun" (which they announced by some weird Japanese title) I was just grinning like a fool. Who'd of thunk it? I've seen bands a quarter their age play with less energy, speed and volume. When it was all over, my ears were ringing like it was Motorhead, or Guitar Wolf I'd just seen. Strangely enough, the other 900 ancient attendees hobbling out the doors seemed unfazed. I assume they were all deaf.

Anyhow, the moral of this story is, go see the Ventures live.
Hi Mark,

Just finished reading all your reviews – hilarious, and for the most part spot on. I adore the Venture/Dentures and have seen them live twice, first time at Expo '86 in Vancouver where they backed up (a crime really, but what the hell) Paul Revere and the Raiders. During Hawaii 5-0 the entire audience was standing up making paddling motions and surf sounds. Awesome! As soon as the Ventures left most of the audience took a powder... like, Paul who?

Second time was in 1997 at a great little club called Richards on Richards (generally saddled with the uber-gay name 'Dicks on Dicks'). They were, to say the least astounding. Leon was great – filling some big shoes very nicely. Something that I have to mention here is Bob Bogle's bass playing. In my opinion he's right up there with the best: John Entwhistle, Jack Bruce, etc. Incredibly sophisticated stuff for a 'surf' band. Maybe he was pissed at losing the lead role to Nokie, so he decided to get revenge by playing lead on bass.

Coolest thing at the concert was that I was standing right beside Mr. Beck Hansen himself who was grooving away with a little entourage. He wasn't performing in Vancouver at the time so I assume he was a big fan and decided to fly in. Who'd-a-thunk?

Charlie Carter
While this group started back in the 50's it is no secret that they made their mark in musical history by putting their interpretation on other artists original music. Although this may seem heresy at first, they did so with panache and style often improving upon some of the original artists lead guitar work.

the Ventures also rolled with the times and although branded as a surf music band, they have adapted well to other music genre its just that instrumentals have not retained popularity here in the USA and therefore are not played as often.

When the Ventures music is played by a radio station it's always the same songs, Walk don't Run, Perfidia, or Hawaii 5-O and the public really doesn't know their true capabilities.

Although Nokie Edwards left to peruse other music, Gerry McGee has filled in admirably well and Nokie has returned on occasion for live performances and guest recording stints.

Granted, like all musicians, they have some flops, but the fact that they are credited with launching guitarists of a thousand bands is no exaggeration and their longevity is remarkable. Some of those guitaristrs have gone on to create great music and give credit to thier roots steeped in Ventures music.

Some of their firsts include:

First to have theme albums centered around one format, I.E. surf, rock, disco, country and western, outer space, etc.
First to experiment heavily with special guitar effects and not studio manipulation meaning they could duplicate their souunds live - I know, I have heard them.
First to have their names attributed to specific model guitars. Now artist series guitars are common but back in the 60's it wasn't and this was a first.
First instrumental rock band to use electric guitars as their predominant sound (others also used guitar along with orchestra or organ and the guuitar was mostly backup).

You cannot compare the Ventures music to anything in the modern era 80's 90's. Maybe Mark Knophler's style. In The Ventures day thats what there was to listen to. Just like punk in its day (who really listens to the Dead Kennedy's anymore) and of course Elvis. Who listens to Elvis? People who grew up with him before there was bone crunching metal. How about the Stones. I don't like em and never did. But look at there album sales. Some people like certain things... thats what makes the world go around. How many albums have you sold. I'm sure it isn't even close to the Ventures sales. Beach Boys, Jan and Dean etc.....If you were a sidewalk surfer or a California Beach Bum in the 60's this was your band. We are all still alive and we listen to the music to bring back a time when we were coming of age and finding ourselves and understanding what we like and dislike. Music, automobiles, fashion was all a part of this. The electric guitar was still evolving as all music today is still evolving. Does anyone think that Lady Gagas crap is gonna stand the test of time because in 40 years when you whip out your Justin Timberlake album and it is antiquated as The Ventures are now, there will be a guy blogging and ripping it just as some of the oldies are ripped on now. Keep up the good work...!!

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