The Ventures

Surf Rock Anthology

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Although the Ventures' popularity in the U.S. peaked in the early to mid-'60s, they've remained extremely popular overseas, particularly in Japan, and it's been enough to keep this versatile instrumental group going after 40-plus years. This Japanese-issued single-disc anthology pretty much presents both the history and the template for this instrumental band -- take a striking guitar riff, smooth it out just a tiny little bit, and put it out there on an LP of likeminded tracks. Although the Ventures have essentially been guitarists Don Wilson, Bob Bogle, and Nokie Edwards (Edwards and Bogle have both handled bass at various junctures) down through the years, it is amazing to realize how many other fine musicians have worked with the band at different points, including Steve Douglas, Larry Knechtel, Tommy Tedesco, David Gates, Billy Strange, Leon Russell, James Burton, Glen Campbell, Red Rhodes, and Sneaky Pete Kleinow, not to mention the various group drummers. There's something to be said for longevity, particularly in the narrow-yield genre of instrumental pop, and the Ventures -- who have outlasted the Beatles by some 30 years -- have done it by offering the same guitar-based model, although they've shaken it and stirred it in countless little ways.

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