Al Casey

Jivin' Around

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Casey made these 26 tracks -- most of which are instrumentals (the K-C-Ettes, actually the Blossoms, add vocals on three of the selections) -- for the Stacy label in the early '60s, a stint which represented his greatest success as a singles artist. Casey is a very good rock and surf guitarist, but the material is often average or boring period instrumental rock, and not so elevated by Casey's guitar licks and arrangements that they demand repeated listening. The most exciting cuts are the surf ones produced (and often written) by Lee Hazlewood, including "Surfin' Hootenanny," Casey's biggest hit. The more obscure "El Aguila (The Eagle)" and "The Hearse" show Casey's skill at dipping his axe in reverb to ride the surf wave, while "Thunder Beach" and "Baja" borrow, as a lot of surf did, from Latin melodies and rhythms. Casey also does his own version of "Ramrod," a Casey composition that colleague Duane Eddy had taken into the Top 30 a few years previously. Surf-heads should know, though, that much of this disc is not surf music, but bluesy early-'60s R&B-rock, on which the organ is sometimes as or more prominent than Casey's guitar. In fact, "Cookin'" and "Jivin' Around," which both lurched into the bottom of the Top 100, are a lot closer to Jimmy Smith than Dick Dale; those songs and "Doin' It" are actually pretty respectable as far as that genre goes. Two of the songs on the CD were previously unreleased.

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