Archive for June, 2016

The Frightened City

This tune, originally recorded by the Shadows, was the title theme of the 1961 British film, “The Frightened City”. Considered to be in the “Neo-Noir” style, the film is about extortion rackets and gang warfare in the West End of London. It stars (a pre-James Bond) Sean Connery, who plays a burglar named Paddy Damion. It also stars (a pre-Chief Inspector Dreyfus) Herbert Lom as the crime boss Waldo Zhernikov.

My recording is a fairly literal cover of the Shadows’ arrangement.

June 15, 2016 at 2:03 pm Leave a comment

Ebb Tide

This classic was written in 1953 by lyricist Carl Sigman and composer Robert Maxwell. An instrumental version in that year by Frank Chacksfield was a major hit. The most successful recording was in 1965 by The Righteous Brothers, peaking at #5 on the US charts.


June 13, 2016 at 6:33 pm 1 comment

A Summer Place

Composed by Dimitri Tiomkin, this tune is from the 1959 film of the same name — starring Sandra Dee and Troy Donohue —  about teenage lovers from different social classes who get back together twenty years later, who then must deal with the passionate love affair of their own teenage children by previous marriages.

In 1961, Percy Faith’s recording of the theme was #1 on the Billboard  Hot 100 for nine weeks in 1960. That set a record that was not broken until 1977, when “You Light Up My Life” (shudder) spent ten weeks at #1.

The Ventures included the song on their “Hawaii-Five-O” album.

June 12, 2016 at 6:03 pm 1 comment

Rear View Mirror #7: Yellow Bird

“Yellow Bird” is a 19th century Haitian song composed as “Choucoune”  by Michel Mauléart Monton. It became known as “Yellow Bird” in the 1950s when it received English lyrics. However, its most popular recording was instrumental, by the Arthur Lymon Group. This group, led by a Vibes/Marimba player, took the song to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961.

June 11, 2016 at 4:59 pm Leave a comment

Washington Square

“Washington Square” was a major hit in 1963 for a NYC based group called The Village Stompers. They somehow managed to combine folk and dixieland styles. It peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Despite their normal practice of promptly covering popular instrumentals, the Ventures didn’t get around to “Washington Square” until their 1987 album “Radical Guitars”.

My arrangement is nothing like the original nor the Ventures’ Disco-flavored version. It is interesting how readily it fit into the surf-rock style.


June 11, 2016 at 7:44 am Leave a comment


I had completely forgotten about this one. However, when I heard it, I immediately remembered it.

“Wheels” by the String-A-Longs went all the way to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. It sold over a million copies and won a gold disc.

Reportedly the tune was actually originally titled as “Tell the World” and was to be paired with another instrumental called “Wheels”. In manufacturing, however, the labels were put on the wrong sides of the records — so “Tell the World” became “Wheels”.

The Ventures covered this tune on one of their albums.


June 10, 2016 at 2:59 pm Leave a comment

Rahk 132

Yeah, I live in the musical past. This is an original tune based on classic rock. The visuals are of the guitarists who influenced me the most in this style. See if you can identify them all. The first two are easy. The last two are pretty easy. The middle ones may not be so easy to name.

June 8, 2016 at 6:42 pm Leave a comment

The Ballad of Paladin

This was the song used over the closing credits for the 1958-63 TV western “Have Gun – Will Travel”.  As played by actor Richard Boone, Paladin was the main character. Duane Eddy released an instrumental version that was a top-40 hit in 1962.

June 7, 2016 at 2:48 pm Leave a comment

Rear View Mirror #3: Raunchy

“Raunchy” was a 1957 instrumental track by composer/arranger Bill Justis that peaked at #2 on the US charts. It went on to become a staple number for instrumental guitar bands like the Ventures and Duane Eddy. It is also famous as the song George Harrison used to audition for the Beatles. Later in his career, Bill Justis composed film scores — including “Smoky and the Bandit”.

June 7, 2016 at 6:09 am 1 comment

The Lonely One

This was a top-40 hit for Duane Eddy in 1959.

June 6, 2016 at 1:39 pm 1 comment

Rebel Rouser

This was a top-ten hit for Duane Eddy in 1958 and is possibly his best-remembered track. My arrangement hews fairly closely to the original except for a few rhythmic diversions and one verse in a minor key.

June 5, 2016 at 3:49 pm Leave a comment

June Bug

This is an original jazz/rock/funk fusion tune.

June 3, 2016 at 12:28 pm Leave a comment

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June 2016