Joe Meek

Vampires, Cowboys, Spacemen and Spooks: The Very Best of Joe Meek's Instrumentals

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It might be subtitled "The Very Best of Joe Meek's Instrumentals," but this isn't the most selective compilation of instrumentals overseen by the British semi-genius producer, the two discs including a whopping 60 tracks. That's not to say, however, that's it's not selective at all, considering just how many instrumentals the prolific Joe Meek cut in the early to mid-'60s. For those who like Meek a lot, but don't want to go to the insane extent of trying to track down everything he did in the studio, this is a very good-value distillation of his work in the instrumental rock realm. Also, Meek's instrumentals weren't as prone to sappy pop as his efforts with vocal artists from the era, and more likely to delve into purer rock. That hardly means that everything here is brilliant, and it might try the patience of those for whom a little Meek goes a long way. If you do like Meek to a significant degree, however, you'll find much to enjoy, as all the tracks -- even the ones of more marginal quality -- are stuffed with his sonic trademarks, including eerie out-of-this-world (if cheesy) electronic keyboards, crunchy compression, heavenly orchestration, twangy surf-country guitars, and numerous shades of weird and unclassifiable sounds, percussion, and miscellaneous tinkles. True, if you collect Meek to any extent, you're likely to already have some of these cuts, particularly those by the Tornados, though at least this includes several uncommon variations of Tornados tracks (a stereo version of "Telstar," a previously unissued "undubbed" version of "Exodus," the U.K. version of "Ridin' the Wind," the German version of "Life on Venus," etc.). It's also true that the best Tornados tracks tend to also be among the very best items on the anthology, as the production generally outpaces the tunes. Nevertheless, there are a few cuts that are both excellent and relatively unknown, like the Packabeats' "Theme from the Traitors" (which recalls the Shadows at their best), the Original Checkmates' creepy "The Spy" (with some great organ work), the Moontrekkers' devastating, lurching horror-rock classic "Night of the Vampire," and the same group's peculiar "Hatashiai (Japanese Sword Fight)." David Wells' liner notes are typically excellent and thorough.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Moontrekkers
2:50
2
feat: The Tornados
2:59
3
feat: Packabeats
2:33
4
feat: Spooks
1:49
5
2:26
6 2:05
7 1:59
8 2:56
9
feat: Moontrekkers
2:15
10
feat: The Saints
2:01
11
feat: The Outlaws
2:05
12
feat: The Tornados
2:27
13
2:33
14 2:55
15
feat: Thunderbolts
2:21
16
feat: Moontrekkers
2:24
17 2:46
18
feat: The Ramblers
2:14
19
2:43
20 2:03
21
feat: The Tornados
2:39
22
2:15
23
2:31
24
feat: The Outlaws
2:44
25
feat: Saxons
2:05
26
feat: The Tornados
2:59
27 3:02
28
2:30
29 2:34
30
feat: The Tornados
2:13

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: The Tornados
3:11
2
2:54
3 2:12
4
feat: The Outlaws
2:24
5
feat: Thunderbolts
3:03
6
feat: Dave Rowland
2:29
7
feat: Tom Cats
2:34
8
feat: The Tornados
2:40
9
feat: The Ramblers
2:23
10
1:59
11 2:53
12
2:25
13
feat: The Saints
3:03
14
2:36
15
2:42
16
2:45
17
2:19
18
feat: The Tornados
1:46
19
feat: Moontrekkers
2:15
20
2:37
21
feat: The Outlaws
2:23
22
1:57
23
feat: The Tornados
1:51
24
feat: Packabeats
2:36
25
2:11
26
2:22
27 2:25
28 3:00
29
feat: Unknown
1:45
30
feat: Moontrekkers
2:21
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