The Ventures

Walk, Don't Run

Composed by Johnny Smith

Song Review by

It's an arguable point with no definitive answer, but it may be that "Walk Don't Run," as recorded by the Ventures, is the most popular instrumental rock'n'roll recording of all time. Aside from it having made #2 in 1960, it's been covered by innumerable bands live and on record. And when you throw in how gigantically popular the Ventures are in Japan, it must be one of the most widely heard instrumental rock hits on an international level. "Walk Don't Run" is everything a moody rock'n'roll instrumental should be: taut, propulsive, with sinister, yet attractive, snaky guitar lines and hard power chords. The song starts off with an instantly gripping long snare drum roll, then settling into the two-beats-to-a-measure/one-beat-to-a-measure rhythm that grounds the song. That's followed by the arresting minor-keyed downwards guitar chords that supply the rhythm guitar throughout must of the tune, almost immediately overlaid with by the fluid mysterioso reverbed guitar lead. Occasionally the song pauses on a minor chord and the rhythm becomes more jittery, before smoothing out and leading back into the verse. The "walk don't run" title is mirrored in the way the bridge breaks into a more even and slightly slower gait, as if to mimic a runner slowing to a walk, the guitar becoming especially twangy at this point. Midway through the guitars take a breather for a brief, crisp drum solo, which restates the rhythm before breaking into the same drum roll that started the track. The performance ends with a glorious upbeat burst of chords, ascending at the very end in a pseudo-Hawaiian style. There's not a wasted note or second in "Walk Don't Run"'s two minutes, and it established the format the Ventures milked for their entire career, though they never again approached the greatness of this song. It's also a somewhat overlooked prototype for the sound of instrumental surf rock, particularly in its snare drum patterns and the reverb splayed over the guitars. The Ventures' recording, incidentally, is not the original version. They learned it from a considerably different version on a Chet Atkins album, and the song was composed by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith, who got the title from a New York subway sign.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Walk Don't Run 1960 Rumble Records
Billboard Top Rock & Roll Hits: 1960 1960
Various Artists
Rhino 2:05
No Image 1965 Dolton
No Image 1967
Max Weinberg Presents: Let There Be Drums, Vol. 2 - The 60's 196?
Various Artists
Rhino 2:06
No Image 1974 United Artists Records
No Image 1975 EMI Music Distribution
No Image 1977 Teevee Records
No Image 1980 Tridex
The Ventures Greatest Hits [Curb] 1981 Curb 2:04
No Image 1982 Tridex
No Image 1984 Import
No Image 1986 Liberty
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: 1960 1987
Various Artists
2:05
No Image 1988 EMI Music Distribution
Super Hits 1988 Evergreen Music Recordings
No Image 1989
Various Artists
Rhino
Walk Don't Run : The Best of the Ventures 1990 EMI Music Distribution 2:00
Rock & Roll Guitar Classics 1991
Various Artists
Era Records 2:05
Top Ten Gassers of the 50's & 60's 1992
Various Artists
EMI-Capitol Special Markets
Super Box of Rock, Vol. 2 [Box Set] 1993
Various Artists
Dominion 2:09
Teen Beat, Vol. 1 1993
Various Artists
Ace 2:05
Rock Instrumental Classics, Vol. 2: The Sixties 1994
Various Artists
Rhino 2:07
Surf City: The California Sound 1995
Various Artists
Nesak International 3:09
Only Rock 'N Roll 1960-1964: 20 Pop Hits 1995
Various Artists
Rhino / JCI Associated Labels 2:02
Car Trax: Rockin' in the Fast Lane 1995
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:09
Play the Hits 1995 Collectables 2:06
Rockin' Instrumentals 1995
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:04
Awesome Surfing Album [Prime Cuts] 1995
Various Artists
Prime Cuts 3:02
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Arsenal
EP Collection, Vol. 2 1995 See For Miles Records 2:07
Revenge of the Surf Instrumentals 1995
Various Artists
MCA 2:05
Walk Don't Run/Ventures 1995 See For Miles Records 2:08
It's My Party [Ktel] 1996
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:09
Songs of Summer [Deuce] 1996
Various Artists
Deuce 3:02
Classic Instrumentals, Vol. 1 1996
Various Artists
ITC Masters / Intercontinental Records
World of Rock N Roll 1996
Various Artists
ZYX Music 2:06
Jenny McCarthy's Surfin' Safari 1996
Various Artists
Interscope
Walk Don't Run/Walk, Don't Run, Vol. 2 1996 One Way Records 2:08
60's Rock & Roll, Vol. 1 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:09
The Favorites 1997 Intercontinental Records 2:05
1960: A Time to Remember - 20 Original Chart Hits 1997
Various Artists
A Time To Remember 2:10
Hot Rod: Big Boss Instrumentals 1997
Various Artists
The Right Stuff / Capitol 2:06
20th Century Rocks, Vol. 5: '60s Rock N Roll - It's My Party [1997] 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:10
Rock n' Roll Reunion: Class of 60 1997
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:11
The Ventures [EMI] 1997 EMI Music Distribution 2:04
Rock N' Roll Legends 1997
Various Artists
Mega Stars 2:28
High School Dance Classics [Crown Collection] 1997
Various Artists
Crown 2:59
The Ultimate History of Rock 'N' Roll Collection 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:09
The Ultimate History of Rock & Roll Collection, Vol. 4: Rockin' Instrumentals 1998
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:11
Music for a Summer Barbecue 1998
Various Artists
EMI-Capitol Special Markets 2:07
Ultimate Driving Collection: California 1998
Various Artists
Chronicles / Polygram 2:00
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: Golden Greats 1998
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:05
Rock 'N' Roll Reunion 1998
Various Artists
Madacy 2:11
Hot Rod Box Set 1999
Various Artists
The Right Stuff 2:06
Rock -N- Roll's Greatest Hits of All Time, Vol. 8 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 2:04
40 Hits: 1960-1964 1999
Various Artists
Millennium Hits (Netherlands) 2:03
Sound & Sensation: Rock'n'Roll Beach Party 1999
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:11
From the Vaults/More from the Vaults 1999
Various Artists
Beat Goes On 2:06
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: Greatest Hits 1999
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:05
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Disky
Groups That Rocked the 60's 2000
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:10
Gold [Gold Label 2000] 2000 HNG 2:08
Hawaii Five-O: Remixed Hits & More [Golden] 2000 Cleopatra / Golden Music 3:03
Wild and Wooly: The Northwest Rock Collection 2000
Various Artists
Sub Pop 2:04
The Ultimate Collection 2001 See For Miles Records 2:44
Live in Japan 2000 2001 Pony Canyon Records 3:01
61* [Original Soundtrack] 2001
Original Soundtrack
Jellybean Recordings 2:04
Wolfman Jack's: Rock 'n' Roll Instrumentals 2001
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:11
Dick Clark's #1's: 50's to 70's "When AM Radio Was King" 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 2:05
Instrumentals Complete 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
No Image 2001
Various Artists
CSC/EMI/Capitol 2:04
Wolfman Jack's: Graffiti R&R Instrumentals 2002
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:11
Surf Rock Anthology 2002 Japanese Import 2:07
The Ventures Play the Greatest Instrumental Hits 2002 Varèse Sarabande / Varese 2:09
The Perfect Wave 2003
Various Artists
CEMA Special Markets / EMI-Capitol Special Markets 2:05
Top Hits of the Sixties: Absolute Hits 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:05
Rock and Roll Generation, Vol. 1 2003
Various Artists
Compendia Music Group 2:09
25 Rockin' Instrumentals 2003
Various Artists
Varèse Sarabande / Varese 2:04
Those Oldies But Goodies 2003
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:11
Ride the Wild Surf [Goldies] 2004
Various Artists
Goldies 3:05
Rock On 1960 2004
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:06
Golden Era of Rock 'n' Roll: 1954-1963 2004
Various Artists
Hip-O 2:04
Classic Instrumental Hits 2004
Various Artists
San Fran
Walk Don't Run Mania 2005
Various Artists
Magic 2:05
Rock N Roll's Greatest Hits of All Time 60's, Vol. 7-8 2005
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 2:05
Ultimate 16: Ultimate 60's 2005
Various Artists
Madacy 2:06
Heartbeat Summer 2007
Various Artists
Virgin 2:05
The Original 60's Box Set 2007
Various Artists
EMI 2:04
Great Fifties Collection 2008
Various Artists
Red X
The Birth of Surf, Vol. 2 2010
Various Artists
Ace 2:08
The Ultimate Oldies But Goodies Collection 2010
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:06
Hit Parade 1960 2011
Various Artists
Dynamic / dynamic records 3:02
Raunchy!, Vol. 2: More Instrumentals - Rockin' into the Sixties 2011
Various Artists
Jasmine 2:05
Greatest Ever! Running Songs: The Definitive Collection 2011
Various Artists
Greatest Ever / Union Square Music 3:06
Complete Pop Instrumental Hits of the Sixties, Vol. 1: 1960 2011
Various Artists
Eric 2:03
Good Vibrations [EMI] 2011
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:04
America's Greatest Hits, Vol. 11: 1960 2012
Various Artists
Acrobat 2:05
The Ventures/Walk Don't Run 2013 Hoo Doo Records 2:05
The  Greatest Ever Rock 'N' Roll 2014
Various Artists
Bellevue / Wienerworld 2:08
Best of the 60s (The Classics) 2014
Various Artists
Amazing Sound 2:07
300 Hits: Rock 'n' Roll
Various Artists
Bellevue Publishing / Wienerworld 2:06
Blueberry Hill [Bellevue]
Various Artists
Bellevue Publishing 2:06
Classic Rock N Roll [Rhino]
Various Artists
Rhino
De Pre Historie: 1960, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Eva 2:23
Decade of Hits: The 60's
Various Artists
Dynamic / Dynamic Nostalgia
No Image Phantom
No Image
Various Artists
Forever Classic Hits 2:01
No Image
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Oldies Hits A to Z, Vol. 9
Various Artists
Forever Classic Hits 2:02
No Image
Various Artists
Metro Select
Rock 'n' Roll USA, Vol. 2: 1959-1962
Various Artists
Acrobat 2:04
Sounds of the 60's, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Digilouge 2:05
No Image
Various Artists
My Kind of Music
The Kinks Beginnings, Vol. 1: Ramrods, Boll-Weevils & Ravens
Various Artists
History of RnB Records / Redeye Music Distribution 2:05
No Image
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
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