As with the earlier volumes in the series, this set features a variety of hits and rarities, including several that never gained a UK release at the time, making them of special interest to British collectors. From the 40s and 50s instrumental records were particularly popular, with record companies able to issue material recorded by experienced session musicians as well as talented newcomers, and to cover a variety of genres along the way. 12 of the 30 cuts here made the US Hot 100, four of them also scoring in the UK charts. The biggest hit on both sides of theAtlanticwas ‘Raunchy’ by Bill Justis from 1957. Bill often led the Sue Records house band on recordings for others, but this time he was able to play his alto sax up front, gaining a #2 US hit. In a tie for second place in the hit stakes are veteran jazzman Ray Anthony’s original recording of ‘Peter Gunn’ and Kokomo’s piano-led ‘Asia Minor’. Variety came in 1962 with the organ-led ‘Rinky Dink’ from Dave “Baby” Cortez, who had hit the top spot back in 1959 with ‘The Whistling Organ’.
Those who love guitar groups will be very happy with the inclusions here. Particular notice will be taken of the very fine playing on ‘Scratchy’ by Travis Wammack from 1964, some years before he became a session mainstay at Rick Hall’s Fame studio. Rarer groups include Dave Meyers & the Surftones, the Nite Rockers (who add some vocals to their offering), Troy & the T-Birds, the Centurions and the driving rock of the Busters, whose ‘Bust Out’ made it up to #25 in 1963. Then there was the unitary, a homemade instrument as featured on ‘Unitar Rock’ by Willie Joe Duncan. And lest you think drums are under-represented, we offer the very fine ‘Drums A Go-Go’ from the Hollywood Persuaders, who were actually Paul Buff and one Frank Zappa.
To prove our initial point about session players, we have a classy trio of tracks that feature pretty well the same group of key musicians. The Ernie Fields Orchestra, the Piltdown Men and ‘Image’ by Hank Levine feature well-known names such as Plas Johnson and drummer Earl Palmer. Along with a few unknown groups and players, this is an exciting and eclectic set that will add to any instrumental fan’s collection.