The Ventures – Wild Things! (1966; 2012 reissue)

Formed in 1959, the Ventures were one of the most influential acts of the pre-British Invasion era. Specializing in electric guitar instrumentals, the Tacoma, Washington band inspired troops of kids to slip on six-strings and put together their own likeminded combos.

Although much credit is showered upon the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Searchers, the Who and so on for bringing the guitar to the forefront in a rock and roll context, plenty of groups already made the instrument the focal point of the program before such bands came knocking.

The Ventures may not have invented instrumental rock, but they certainly gained the greatest commercial success of those treading the same terrain. “Walk Don’t Run,” “Perfidia,” “Ram-Bunk-Shush,” “Driving Guitars (Ventures Twist),” “Walk Don‘t Run ‘64,” “Slaughter On Tenth Avenue” and “Hawaii Five-O” count among some of the Pacific Northwest band’s biggest hits.

Strong record sales, topped by solid chops and an allegiance to consistency were responsible for prompting the Ventures to be the best band of the genre. But once our friends from the United Kingdom overthrew the airwaves, instrumental rock died a sudden death. However, the Ventures remained hopelessly devoted to what they were doing and simply kept right on writing, performing and producing instrumentals.

Initially released on the Dolton label in September 1966, Wild Things! (Sundazed Records) really captures the feel and fragrance of the times. Flashing a groovy tenor, the album swings, swerves and shakes to an enthralling exhibition of fat fuzz guitars, neon-lit melodies and creative arrangements. Potent drumming, powered by daring stunts, adds shades of color and excitement to the disc as well.

Strands of psychedelic threading materialize on “Fuzzy And Wild,” where “Wild Trip,” “Wild Child” and “Wild And Wooly” are replete with bouncing, throbbing rhythms designed to motivate the listener to move their body and go-go the night away.

Clever tempo changes fuel “How Now Wild Cow,” while covers of “Summer In The City,” “The Pied Piper,” “Hanky Panky” and “The Work Song” are reprised with springs in the steps, laughter in the eyes and finger-picking fun.

Prospering to a giddy mood, Wild Things! displays the band’s skills and style to stunning effects. Clean guitar tones, paired by a refined sound are key characteristics, not to neglect how bloody tight and grounded the group is. Rock and roll owes loads of thanks to the Ventures, and Wild Things! ranks as a required purchase for fans of cool guitar happenings.

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Wild Things!Very Best of the VenturesHawaii Five-O4 Original Albums

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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