Bill Justis Plays 12 Smash Instrumental Hits is the third of five instrumental albums with confusingly similar titles and covers Justis made for Smash Records within a two-year period. The "smash hits" to which the title refers are not Justis', but those of other instrumental artists and combos; Justis had no hit singles to speak of during his Smash tenure, but his first couple of instrumental albums for the label were solid sellers. The tunes are mostly covers of recent instrumental hits, plus a couple of instrumental arrangements of vocal hits such as the Rooftop Singers' "Walk Right In" and the Platters' "Only You." Justis explores a variety of instrumental styles, not all of which can be characterized as rock & roll. He gives "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" a jazzy, piano-based treatment, and turns "Fly Me to the Moon" into a bossa nova. Justis moves into rock & roll territory with covers of the Rumblers' "Boss" and the Rebels' "Wild Weekend," and goes surfing with "Misirlou." Justis' version of Lawrence Welk's "Zero Zero" uses a kazoo and vocal chorus; "Meditation" features an acoustic guitar lead, and "Java" rocks harder than the hit recordings by Al Hirt and Floyd Cramer. This album finds Justis digging deeper for material, probably because he used up so many high-profile instrumental hits on the previous installments of the series.
Share this page