As one of the foremost instrumental surf rock bands of their day, the Ventures produced what seemed like endless collections of standard tunes in their unique beachy style. Originally released in 1962, The Ventures Play Telstar is one of the band's more recognizable titles. Covering a vast array of early-'60s hit paraders, the album is kicked off by a rival surf band's huge hit. "Telstar" was a hit earlier that same year in a much wobblier Joe Meek-produced version by interstellar outliers the Tornados. Taking on a few Latin-tinged easy listening numbers made famous by Herb Alpert as well as Booker T. & the MG's' soul groover "Green Onions," the record hits these numbers with a varied degree of inspiration. Despite a somewhat wooden performance on many of the tracks, the hard-panned stereo production makes for a very big sound. While reading somewhere between campy and nostalgic in the context of the decades that followed, The Ventures Play Telstar is still a high point in the band's overwhelming discography, and as strong a sample of early-'60s commercially viable surf rock as you're likely to find.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas