Ace Records
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When it comes to rock'n'roll, the Pacific Northwest has long been known as the toughest, most uncompromising region of the United States. From the Sonics through to Nirvana, Northwest musicians have always strangled their axes, pounded their ivories, honked their horns and whacked their drums that much harder. And this take-no-prisoners approach was exemplified no better than by the flourishing combo scene that developed in Washington and Oregon in the wake of the Wailers and the Ventures during the early 1960s.

It was an era of full-blooded, jazz and blues-tinged raucous instrumentals, with nary a vocal in sight. And so fans of the genre are in for a huge treat with Riot City! Rocking Northwest Instrumentals, which draws upon the voluminous archives of Jerden Records of Seattle, the Northwest's premier indie of the day. Featuring material recorded between 1960 and 1965, Riot City! not only showcases some of the region's top groups but also demonstrates the unique indigenous sound of the Northwest, where punchy rhythm and blues was the preferred style for every teenage combo. Most tracks are tried-and-tested searing guitar, wailin' sax, hard-on-the Hammond workouts, but there's a smattering of surf licks and spooky organ. In other words, plenty of killer grooves for instrumental nuts everywhere.

We commence with the legendary title track by Rocky & His Friends, an unbelievably chaotic number that fully lives up to its name-.-the collection also features cuts from the band's cool earlier incarnation as the Imperials. NW guitar heroes like Dan Olason (the Counts) and Joe Johansen (the Adventurers) show us why they were so revered, and there are plenty of other heavy players on display - plus let's not forget the granddaddy of Northwest Hammond, Dave Lewis, with his local smash, the much-covered David's Mood.

Other regional hits are Turn On Song, Alki Point and Black Cat, plus rocking takes on some of the era's standards (for instance, James Henry & the Olympics turn in an unissued version of James Brown's Sticky that has to be heard to be believed). Many tracks - such as the Raymarks' Backfire, the Beachcombers' Purple Peanuts and the Classics' Aces High - have previously only ever been available on scarce and highly collectable singles, that almost never show up.

Surf fans will rejoice in cuts by Johnny & the Velvetones and Danny & the Seniors, the latter tearing through Banzai Pipeline at a furious rate. There's even some north of the border Shadows-style action with Vancouver's Chessmen and Meadowlands, featuring the lightning-fast fingers of Guy Sobell. We slow it down ever so briefly for the cool, cryptic Sampan by the Bellingham Accents and Gentleman Jim's frat-shack classic Soul Searchin'. Otherwise Riot City! proceeds at a breakneck pace from start to finish, and is certainly the most frantic release instrumental fans will have heard for many a year.

As with Big Beat's sister series Northwest Battle Of The Bands, many hours of archive scouring and detailed tape research have gone into making Riot City! sound the most complete and in-your-face compilation of NW Instrumentals yet. Add to that the enthusiastic co-operation of many of its featured stars in assembling the photos and liner notes, and you have an indispensable and truly rocking collection that reflects the indisputable magic of the era.

P.S. It makes a wild party disc too!

By Alec Palao


Track listing


Side 1

  • 01 Preview Riot City - Rocky & His Friends

  • 02 Preview Sticky - James Henry & The Olympics

  • 03 Preview David's Mood (Pt 2) - Dave Lewis

  • 04 Preview Turn On - Don & The Goodtimes

  • 05 Preview Backfire - The Raymarks

  • 06 Preview Aces High - The Classics

  • 07 Preview Clyde, Clyde, The Cow's Outside - The Counts

  • 08 Preview Alki Point - The Jesters

  • 09 Preview Hitch Hiking Home - Johnny & The Velvetones

  • 10 Preview Quiet Riot - Doug Robertson & The Good Guys

  • 11 Preview Backyard Compost - The Imperials

  • 12 Preview Mr Meadowlands - The Chessmen

  • 13 Preview Sampan - The Bellingham Accents

  • 14 Preview Somethin' Or Other - Sir Raleigh & The Cupons

  • 15 Preview Wop Sticks - Johnny & The Velvetones

  • 16 Preview I Got A Woman - The Juveniles

  • 17 Preview Work Song - The Raymarks

  • 18 Preview Fidget - Leroy & The Galahads

  • 19 Preview Purple Peanuts - The Beachcombers

  • 20 Preview Excelsior - The Adventurers

  • 21 Preview Straight Scepter - Don & The Goodtimes

  • 22 Preview Chitlins Etc Aka Chittlins Con Carne - The Counts

  • 23 Preview Banzai Pipeline (live) - Danny & The Seniors

  • 24 Preview Torquila - Vince & The Victors

  • 25 Preview The Wheeley - The Beachcombers

  • 26 Preview Drivin' Home - Doug Robertson & The Good Guys

  • 27 Preview Soul Searchin' - Gentleman Jim & The Horsemen

  • 28 Preview Feel Alright - The Counts

  • 29 Preview Chinese Checkers - The Imperials

  • 30 Preview Black Cat - The Checkers

  • 31 Preview Whitcomb Street - Sir Raleigh & The Cupons

Delivery & Returns


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We use Royal Mail First Class for UK deliveries and standard Air Mail for all other territories, very large orders will usually be sent via parcelforce. You may cancel your order at any time prior to your order being dispatched by emailing us at ensuring that you quote your name, address and order reference number or by telephoning +44 (0) 208 453 1311 between 9am and 5pm GMT/BST, Monday to Friday. Please note: As music downloads are dispatched immediately after purchase, there is no possibility of cancelling these orders.

In the event that any products supplied to you by us are damaged or defective, we agree to replace or repair the damaged or defective products or refund the amount you paid for such goods (including postage & packaging) providing you notify us (either via post at or e-mail: ) and return the goods within 28 days of purchase. Physical goods should be sent back to us in the same condition you received them to: “Returns” Ace Records, Such Close, Letchworth Garden City SG6 1JF, United Kingdom. Music downloads should be returned to us via the e-mail address above including a copy of your notification.

You have the right to cancel your order within seven days of purchase, or seven days of receipt of the goods (whichever is the longer). If you choose to cancel your order, full payment will be returned to you. Returned items should be sent to: “Returns” c/o Ace Records, Such Close, Letchworth Garden City SG6 1JF, United Kingdom. Music downloads should be returned to us via the email address: including a copy of your notice of cancellation and order number.

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