Dell Rat Ron's back
and he's brought us
some sizzling stacks
of wax in the pop/rock
Instrumentals have become a lost art. You won't find many on the modern pop music landscape. Back in the 1950s and 60s, however, wordless wonders were plentiful and popular. By the early 60s many instrumentals were being produced by California surf rock bands. The frenetic beat was the ideal complement to the extreme sport of wave riding.
With that I'll
step aside and say
Ron...be my guest!
Before I got heavily into
R&B, I was a big fan
of instrumentals, mostly
guitars and drums. I still
enjoy them, and these
were probably my most
vanilla days, when
chocolate was Nestle's
Quik, Ovaltine, Hershey's
Syrup or 1/3 of the
Neopolitan ice cream
which my parents usually
bought. These are a
couple of my favorites,
long since gone, that I'd
like to share with you.
I just flashed on a
popular dance tune
from our teen years.
"Hot Pastrami" by the
Dartells was a 1963
hit record derived
from "(Do the)
a fine but poor
by Nat Kendrick
and the Swans.
"Hot Pastrami" - Dartells
(May 1963, highest chart position #11)
"Hot Pastrami" was popular with almost all the local bands
playing at the Oaks and every other venue in York,
Lancaster and Harrisburg. This A-side ain't squat, though.
The B-side, and I really mean Killer Bee, was called
"The Dartell Stomp" and it was the real favorite with all the
bands and those of us who came to listen.
"Dartell Stomp" - Dartells
(uncharted flipside of Hot Pastrami")
I'm not positive, but I think that record was popular
around the same time as "Wipeout". Oh, for a
Gino Giant or Big Boy at the Dell!
Ron, you're close. "Wipe Out" by the Surfaris started its long 16 week chart run around the time that "Hot Pastrami" was fading away. "Wipe Out" shot to #2 but was blocked from reaching the top of the chart by Little Stevie Wonder's "Fingertips, Pt. 2," a song that you talked about in one of your earlier features.
"Wipe Out" - Surfaris (August 1963,
highest chart position #2)
There's another surf classic on the back side of "Wipe Out." It's a vocal rather than an instrumental but it's too good to miss, especially since it fits right in with our seasonal series Summer Means Fun. Here's the soggy saga of "Surfer Joe."
"Surfer Joe" - Surfaris (September 1963,
highest chart position #62)
Both of those Safaris classics can be found on Cowabunga! The Surf Box. So can "Church Key" by The Revels, and Ron, this is where I toss back to you.
Shady, "Church Key" is another
great surf rock instrumental.
It was a Pick Hit of the Week
on WSBA and made the
station's Top 40, but for some
reason didn't stay on the local
chart too long.
"Church Key" - Revels
(with Barbara Adkins) (1960, uncharted)
Ron, let me add a few more at this point. One of the leading instrumental groups of the 60s was the Ventures and my record collection included their two biggest hits. "Walk-Don't Run" soared up the chart to the #2 position in the summer of 1960 but bumped its head on two giant hits that traded places at #1 and never relinquished the top spot to other worthy contenders. The two songs I'm talking about were "It's Now or Never" by Elvis Presley and "The Twist" by Chubby Checker. The Ventures gave their tune another spin in 1964 and cracked the top 10.
"Walk-Don't Run '64" - Ventures
(August 1964, highest chart
And here's a timely tune now that Hawaii Five-O is back on the boob tube.
"Hawaii Five-O" - Ventures
(April 1969, highest chart position #4)
I can sum up our instrumental extravaganza by telling you that my Pick to Click is "Church Key" by The Revels, a band that was shredding surf rock before that music category even existed. If you listen to their Sundazed CD you'll hear them covering "Tequila" by the Champs and sounding a lot like them on that and other tracks. The Revels put down a pound of sound that featured a wailin' sax.
Here are the reinvented Revels performing a rousing rendition of "Wipeout" live in concert in 1992:
And finally please watch this clip of The Revels performing their hit "Church Key" on the TV show California Music in 1992.
Thank you again,
Dell Rat Ron Shearer
for treating us to
tunes with 'tude!
Have a Shady day!