For their latest compilation, Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers, Ace Records return to the golden age of the instrumental. Featuring twenty-six tracks, Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers is a return to an era when instrumentals were King. This “golden age” began around 1956 and exploded when Duane Eddy released his debut single Movin’ and Groovin’ in March 1958. After that, instrumentals were commonplace on the British and American charts. 

Whether it was honking saxophones or twangy, jangling guitars, instrumentals were big sellers. Every musical genre, whether it be jazz, R&B, pop, surf or rock, have numerous instrumental classics. The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Booker T. and The MGs, The Shadows, Don Costa and Spencer Ross all enjoyed huge hits. So did Johnny and The Hurricanes, The Ventures, The Titans, The Fireballs and Billy Joe and The Checkmates, which feature on Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers. 

Thirteen of the tracks on Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers have been released before. They were released between 1960 and 1996. They’re a reminder of another musical era and will bring back many musical memories. This includes familiar faces, rarities and hidden gems. The other thirteen tracks have never been released before. As is often the case, there’s some real hidden gems tucked amongst the unreleased tracks on Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers. These delights are testament to Dave Burke and Alan Taylor of Pipeline Magazine’s crate digging skills. They’ve dug deeper than they’ve ever dug before. Fans of instrumentals should be grateful for this. Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers is one of the best compilations of instrumentals you’ll come across. I’ll now tell you why, whilst picking my highlights of Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers.

From the opening bars of The Ventures’ Walk Don’t Run, which opens Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers, you’re transported back to the early sixties. Immediately, you think of surf music, but The Ventures never considered themselves a surf band. Instead, they saw themselves as a rock band. The version of Walk Don’t Run on the compilation is the demo version, that’s never been released before. It would later be the title-track to their debut album, released in December 1960. Reaching number eleven in the US Billboard 200, the album was certified gold. After that, The Ventures sold over 100 million albums. Best described as innovative, given their use of effects, they spawned a thousand imitators. Of all the singles The Ventures released, Walk Don’t Run is their best known track. There’s another four unreleased tracks from The Ventures on Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers. Murfreesboro, Sabrosa, The Spur (La Espuela) and Run Don’t Walk are further proof that The Ventures always, released groundbreaking music that pushed musical boundaries.

Johnny and The Hurricanes released their debut single Crossfire, in 1959. This was the start of a run of eight hit singles. Then disaster struck, when most of the band left. The last man standing was Johnny Paris. While The Hurricanes became The Fascinators, Johnny Paris put together a new band. They feature on The Psychedelic Worm, which features Red River Rock ’67 on the B-side. Written by Johnny and released on Johnny’s Atila label in 1967, Psychedelic Worm is an explosive and blistering track. Best described as a honker and twanger, it shows that Johnny and The Hurricanes were far from a spent force. As for Red River Rock ’67, it sounds like a track that inspired The Who.

That The Titans are one of these bands that didn’t enjoy the success their talent deserved. They only released a trio of singles and one album, 1961s Today’s Teen Beat. Thankfully, that wasn’t all the music they recorded. The compilers of Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers, discovered two unreleased tracks Skokiaan and Crying In The Rain. Skokiaan is the best of the two. With its jangling and later choppy guitars, this track falls into the category of hidden gem. Crying In The Rain, it brings a new twist to an oft-covered classic.

The Reveliers are another band with three tracks on Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers. Two of them, White Water and Flat Tyre have never been released before. Raw and full of energy described The Reveliers’ White Water. They sound as if they’ve been influenced by Dick Dale, Link Ray, The Ventures and The Shadows. Then there’s Flat Tyre. Ironically, it’s best described as an explosive, driving track. It’s like Patch, another guitar driven track. This was the B-Side to their 1963 single Hanging Five, which was released on G-Clef Records. Given the quality of Patch, I wonder how good Hanging Five was?

Straight away, you notice that The Fireballs’ La Pobracita has a really contemporary sound. It’s much more understated than many tracks on Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers. Just like the wistful Ain’t That Rain, La Pobracita has never been released before. Both are true hidden gems. However, vocal versions were released by Jimmy Glimer and The Fireballs in 1966. Having heard both version, the instrumental versions are the best version. So it’s no surprise that The Fireballs  enjoyed a long and successful career. Their career started back in the fifties, when they were signed to Top Rank International. After releasing their debut single in 1959, they released their debut album Vaquero 1960. For the next few years, The Fireballs enjoyed commercial success and were never far from a recording studio, sating the demand for their music.

Despite releasing a handful of singles and four albums between 1958 and 1962, The Champs’ South Of The Border wasn’t released until 1996, when it featured on a compilation. It’s well worth revisiting a track that’s jazz-tinged and dance-floor friendly. Even better, it features some scorching saxophone playing.

Some songs paint pictures. That’s certainly true of The Exports’ Car Hop. Instantly, your back to the days when hot rods and surfing were de rigueur. Released in 1963 on King Records, the best way to describe Car Hop is evocative and cinematic.

Driven along by a bluesy harmonica and Gerry McGhee’s guitar, Billy Joe and The Checkmates’ Nashville West (One More Time) explodes into life. What follows is two minutes of musical magic. So it should be. Billy Joe and The Checkmates comprised some of the best session players of that era. They never miss a beat on Nashville West (One More Time), or The Drifter, another track on Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers. Both were released in 1963 and were among nineteen singles this crack band of session musicians released.

My final choice from Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers, is The Swanks’ Ghosyt Train. It’s a previously unreleased track. Bursting into life, you’re almost caught unaware. You head on a hair-raising and dramatic journey. For company, you’ve jangling, twanging guitars. They provide an atmospheric backdrop to this magical mystery tour.

Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers is long and quality and short on filler. In fact, I’d go as far as say that there’s no filler on Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers. Quite the opposite, Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers is all killer and no filler. Featuring familiar tracks, some rarities and a plethora of hidden gems, Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers is a compilation that’ll appeal to many music lovers.

Among them, are anyone whose a fan of instrumental music. Then there’s fans of R&B, rock ‘n’ roll and surf music. Some of the guitar tracks fall squarely into the category of surf music, where many musical secrets await discovery. The same can be said of Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers.

Just like any other compilation, Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers is a voyage of discovery. You’re bound to discover music you’ve never heard before and head out in pursuit of albums by The Ventures, Johnny and The Hurricanes, The Fireballs and The Champs. Compilations are a great way to discover new music. They lead to more musical discoveries. It’s all part of a long and enjoyable musical journey. 

As for the musical journey that is Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers we make detours via R&B, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and surf music. During that journey, we hear thirteen tracks that have been released before and thirteen unreleased tracks. Among these honkers and twangers, there’s many a hidden gem. They sit side-by-side with rarities, familiar faces and old favourites on Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers. It’s one of the best compilations of instrumentals you’ll come across. Long-Lost Honkers and Twangers, which was recently released by Ace Records, is a compilation that’s sure to bring back memories of the golden age of instrumentals. Standout Tracks: The Ventures Walk Don’t Run, The Fireballs La Pobracita, The Titans Skokiaan and Billy Joe and The Checkmates’ Nashville West (One More Time).


Long-Lost Honkers & Twangers

Long-Lost Honkers & Twangers

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