Routers

A-Ooga!!! Stamp & Shake with the Routers

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Remembered by Mr. and Ms. Average Listener solely for their 1962 Top 20 instrumental "Let's Go (Pony)," the Routers rode that hit to record a surprising wealth of material in the early to mid-'60s, including four albums and numerous singles. This 27-track compilation lives up to the promise of its subtitle "The Best, The Rarest & the Unreleased," including their chart hits (they did have a mild one after "Let's Go (Pony)," "Sting Ray"), some singles that make their CD debut, and four previously unreleased tracks. "Let's Go (Pony)" was a simple but memorable tune built around crackling surf-ish guitar, soaring sax, and cheerleader-friendly clapping, yet they never did manage anything else as catchy, despite the era's top Hollywood session men playing on their records. While you've got to love liner notes that start off by declaring "it's fair to say that the Routers were never about high-minded cerebral matters," these largely instrumental tracks -- singing and chanting are periodically heard -- are mostly hasty if energetic throwaways, often sounding like a cross between a sports marching band and a rock & roll combo with one foot in R&B and the other in surf. They're kind of fun to party to if you're not demanding much, and capture the innocence of the Los Angeles rock scene at a time when few aspired to do anything more than enjoy themselves and sell records, but they're not very interesting. More interesting, to be blunt, are the extensive liner notes, which explain the Routers' tangled evolution and connections to key Hollywood session rockers, who were so tight that only one member of the band touring under the Routers' name actually played on the records. Oddly, however, they don't mention that two tracks, "Snap, Crackle, and Pop" and "Amoeba" were written by future Redbone leaders Pat and Lolly Vegas, or that one of the touring Routers, Scott Engel (who's seen in one of the photos), became star singer Scott Walker of the Walker Brothers.

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