The Ventures

Running Strong

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This features the original lineup of the Ventures, and seems to be pilfered, that is selected, from the band's stream of releases on Dolton. It was apparently first released in 1966, then showed up on several budget labels in the following decade. It almost seems to have been designed originally for re-release on a cheapie budget line, perhaps another example of this group's supposed precognitive abilities in the music business. The original version of the album is only two minutes longer than the edit that Pickwick released in the late '70s. The latter release is famous for having a B-side that is less than ten minutes long. The title evolved from Running Strong to Runnin' Strong, and that "g" isn't the only alphabetical casualty. The song titles have been truncated over the years, perhaps representing a form of progress, losing an artsy-fartsy part in parentheses. Pickwick probably shortened the titles to save money on typesetting, not out of artistic considerations. While this philosophy dominates the entire production, on an individual basis the tracks feature the versatility expected from this group as well as sharp musical thinking. "Bird Swingers" and "Wild Action" get things off to an enjoyable start, and then a blend of nice balladry and a clever rearrangement of "La Bamba" provide thoughtful substance for the balance of that side. Good things are also to be found on a B-side that begins with a "Moon Journey," but reason has to step in. With so many Ventures releases available, this one can only be admired by someone doing a serious study of frugality. It is like a paltry serving of French fries, and while only Montana folksinger Lewis Nord has tried to establish the average number of fries in a single serving, just about anyone can tell when there aren't enough.

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