Archive for May, 2016

The Cruel Sea

This tune was originally released in 1963 by the Dakotas, an English group (yes, the same Dakotas that backed up Billy J. Kramer). It peaked at #18 on the UK singles chart. It never charted in the USA. A year later, the Ventures covered it as the “B” side of their release “Walk Don’t Run ’64”.

My arrangement is very traditional, but does not exactly cover either the Dakotas’ or the Ventures’ versions.


May 31, 2016 at 3:27 pm 1 comment

Don’t Know Why

Written by Jesse Harris, this was the first song on Norah Jones’ debut album. It has been covered my many jazz artists. I have given it a smooth-jazz setting.

May 30, 2016 at 2:51 pm 1 comment


This is my instrumental cover of “Volaré”.  It was written by Franco Migliacci and Domenico Modugno. The combined sales of all versions of the song exceed 22 million copies worldwide.

Domenico Modugno’s Italian language recording of this great tune spent five non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958 and was Billboard’s number-one single for the year. There were also successful versions by Dean Martin and Bobby Rydell.



May 27, 2016 at 5:48 am Leave a comment

Instant Guitar

Just add water? This was originally a track on the Ventures 1962 album “Twist Party Vol 2”.

May 26, 2016 at 6:05 am Leave a comment

Surfin’ the Turf #22: Downtown

Just about everyone knows this song, which was a huge #1 hit for Petula Clark in 1964. It was originally intended by its composer, Tony Hatch, for the Drifters. If one imagines it just a bit slowed down, that makes sense.

I have reimagined it as a surf tune (surprise!).

May 25, 2016 at 8:27 am Leave a comment

Hawaiian War Chant

Originally written as a love song by in the 1860s by Prince Leleiohoku, this tune got a completely different set of lyrics and went on to become a staple of the Big Band era. It was covered by countless artists and groups, including the Ventures on their first album in 1960. There are also versions by Buddy Rich, Spike Jones, and Les Paul & Mary Ford.

May 23, 2016 at 5:02 pm Leave a comment

Last Date

“Last Date”, as written and performed by Floyd Cramer, peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot #100 in 1960. It is likely you recognize it. Perhaps you think you’ve never heard him. Well, you have. Floyd Cramer was the pianist on Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” and played on countless Nashville sessions. He is widely recognized as having “written the book” on country piano. There would be no Chuck Leavell without Floyd Cramer.

“Last Date” was covered by many artists, including Duane Eddy and the Ventures.

My arrangement attempts to make the tune into a guitar number.

May 22, 2016 at 5:51 pm Leave a comment

Surfin’ the Turf #19: Surfin’ Cat

This is an arrangement of the classic “Alley Cat” which was a hit in  1962 for Danish jazz pianist Bent Fabric. The original was a top-10 Billboard hit.

May 21, 2016 at 5:13 pm Leave a comment

Surfin’ the Turf #18: Stranger on the Shore

This tune was a HUGE hit in 1962. As written and recorded by Acker Bilk, it went to #1 on the US charts. It also has the distinction of being the “rock era” first recording from the UK to hit #1 in the USA.


May 20, 2016 at 6:08 pm Leave a comment


This is a tune from the Ventures’ 1961 album, “Twist with the Ventures”. I think it’s pretty catchy.

May 19, 2016 at 3:16 pm Leave a comment

Out of Limits

This tune is actually not the theme from the cult-classic 60’s TV show, the Outer Limits. Of course the opening riff is a rip-off of the theme from the Twilight Zone, another — and probably better — spooky program. All of this got composer and Marketts leader Michael Z. Gordon in some legal hot water. However, the tune was still a #1 hit and the Marketts went on to record the 1966 Batman theme. Later in his career Gordon was a very successful TV and film producer.


May 18, 2016 at 5:10 pm Leave a comment


“Runaway” was a #1 hit for Del Shannon in 1961. Although he had some follow-up success (Little Town Flirt and Hat’s Off to Larry), nothing equaled the popularity of this tune. Del Shannon battled substance abuse for much of his life and sadly committed suicide in 1990 at the age of 55.

The Ventures included a cover of this classic on their 1963 album “Let’s Go!”. While not a cover of their arrangement, my version is certainly in the Ventures, surf-rock style.



May 17, 2016 at 3:42 pm Leave a comment


This is my cover of “Brazil”, which was the 1st track on the 1964 album “Sounds of the Shadows”. Its original title was “Aquarela do Brasil” (Watercolor of Brazil) and was written by Ary Barroso in 1939. One of the 20 most recorded songs of all time, it’s really an interesting tune.

May 15, 2016 at 4:52 pm Leave a comment

I’ll Never Find Another You

In the 1960s, there was a huge folk music movement from groups like Peter, Paul & Mary, The Kingston Trio, and The New Christy Minstrels. Typically the music featured acoustic instruments and lovely vocal harmonies. Although this style began in the USA, it reached across the Atlantic to the UK. The Seekers were a British folk group, and they had a global hit with this tune in 1964.

I thought I would see if a tune like this would work in an instrumental guitar band setting — and I think it does very nicely.

May 14, 2016 at 5:43 pm Leave a comment

Blue Moon

I suspect there aren’t too many people on the planet who haven’t heard this classic song. Written by the great songwriting team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, it has been recorded countless times. Boomers will likely recall the #1 1961 doo-wop version by the Marcels.

The Ventures recorded it on their album “Colorful Ventures”. While inspired by this, my version is not based on theirs. It is more “Latin” — perhaps a bit more the way The Shadows might have done it.

May 13, 2016 at 6:13 pm Leave a comment

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May 2016