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THE VENTURES PLAY THE GREATEST INSTRUMENTAL HITS
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Recorded between 1996 and 2000 (although the liner notes refer to the version of "Hawaii Five-O" having been started in the mid-'80s), this set is largely devoted to covers of instrumental hits of the late '50s and early '60s, although remakes of the Ventures' own two biggest hits ("Walk, Don't Run" and "Hawaii Five-O") are present. Otherwise, the track list looks a little like a mix tape of some of the biggest instrumental songs from the time when the Ventures were at their peak: "Rebel Rouser," "Apache," "Peter Gunn," "Bongo Rock," "Honky Tonk," "Sleep Walk," "Tequila," "Green Onions," "James Bond Theme," "Secret Agent Man." Original members Bob Bogle and Don Wilson are still on hand, though original guitarist Nokie Edwards is only credited as a "guest" artist, and the late Mel Taylor is replaced by his son Leon Taylor on some tracks (the precise ones aren't specified). This has all the hallmarks of being an uninspired rehash of a band's glory days, but it actually sounds surprisingly good, though certainly no significant ground is broken and you'd be better off with collections of the original recordings (whether by the Ventures or others). There's no concession to inappropriate modernized production -- it sounds like the Ventures, the lean, hungry, reverbed guitar sound to the forefront. These are pretty energetic and capable renditions, though perhaps the only mild surprise in the track selection is "Tall Cool One" by the Wailers (which only just made the Top Forty in 1959), the Northwest group that helped inspire the Ventures when they began. ~ Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide
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