The Ventures

The Ventures  are an American instrumental rock band formed in 1958 in Tacoma, Washington.  Founded by Don Wilson and Bob Bogle, the group in its various incarnations has had an enduring impact on the development of music worldwide.  With over 100 million records sold, the group is the best-selling instrumental band of all time.  In 2008, the Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Their instrumental virtuosity, experimentation with guitar effects, and unique sound laid the groundwork for innumerable groups, earning them the moniker “The Band that Launched a Thousand Bands”.  (More from Wikipedia)

After Twink left the band, the remaining trio in the Pink Fairies recorded What a Bunch of Sweeties which includes another song on my All-Time Top Ten, “Marilyn”.  This album was at the top of my Want List for decades before I finally mail-ordered a copy – just in time for Hurricane Katrina.  The album also includes covers of two familiar 1960’s tracks:  the Beatles “I Saw Her Standing There” and the instrumental “Walk, Don’t Run” (originally by the Ventures).  As described by Wikipedia:  “The sleeve came in a gatefold cover by Edward Barker, the front showing a box full of goodies mostly taken from roadie David “Boss” Goodman’s personal collection of underground badges etc.”  The album is mostly a sonic assault that also includes the playful song “Pigs of Uranus” – but even that song ends with a fabulous electric guitar solo. 

(March 2014/1)
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I always thought that “Jesus is Just Alright” was their first hit song, but it was actually the third single released by the Doobie Brothers (in late 1972), after “Listen to the Music”.  Other versions have been recorded by Alexis Korner and the Ventures.   


(July 2014)

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My introduction to the tougher sounds of surf music was on one of the compilation albums of that period, Shut Downs and Hill Climbs that I picked up from Columbia Record Club when I was ordering Jan & Dean records and other such.  There are two Jan & Dean songs, “Hot Stocker” and “Little Deuce Coupe”; both are on one of their better albums, Drag City, with Little Deuce Coupe” being a previous hit by the Beach Boys (and also the name of one of their albums, Little Deuce Coupe).  There are other cool numbers on the album also, such as “Six Days on the Road” by Dave Dudley, “Seven Little Girls Sittin’ in the Back Seat” by Paul Evans, two instrumentals by the Ventures (more about them later), and a cover of the Rip Chords hit “Hey Little Cobra” by a band called the T-Bones


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The debut album by the SilencersThe Silencers came out on Total Energy Records at about the same time as several albums by their label-mates Davie Allan and the Arrows.  For the most part, the songs are originals, with the one exception being “Journey to the Stars” that has five songwriters listed on Allmusic:  Bob BogleDon WilsonNokie Edwards, and Mel Taylor of the Ventures, plus Sun Ra


The back cover of The Silencers by the Silencers shows a flame-encircled dragster with the quote:  “Link Wray the Ventures rolled into one big ball and heaved through Dick Dale’s living room window!!!”  Referring to that quote, Richie Unterberger in Allmusic says:  “It’s not as mind-bending as that description would have you believe, but it’s a very respectable 1990’s surf revival effort, with excellent chops and a good sense of menace.  Of their three cited influences, Dick Dale is definitely the biggest, as Eric Toth’s banzai guitar leads amply demonstrate.” 


(December 2014)


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Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas had numerous hit songs, including several Lennon/McCartney songs in Britain (Billy J. Kramer was also managed by Brian Epstein) and a major U.S. hit, “Little Children” in March 1964.  They used “with” rather than “and” so as to keep separate identities for the singer and the band.  The Dakotas by themselves had a hit instrumental in the U.K. with “The Cruel Sea”; for its U.S. release, it was retitled “The Cruel Surf” and was later covered by the Ventures.  A curious song by the Dakotas called “7 Pounds of Potatoes” – “. . . come between me and my love”, according to the lyrics – is included on English Freakbeat, Volume 2 (both the LP and the CD)


(May 2015)


Last edited: March 22, 2021