High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rat Ron's Retro Rock Reminiscences: Instrumentally Yours, Vol. 1

Dell Rat Ron's back 

and he's brought us 

some sizzling stacks 

of wax in the pop/rock 

instrumental category! 

Instrumentals have become a lost art. You won't find many on the modern pop music landscape. Back in the 1950s and 60s, however, wordless wonders were plentiful and popular. By the early 60s many instrumentals were being produced by California surf rock bands. The frenetic beat was the ideal complement to the extreme sport of wave riding.

With that I'll 

step aside and say my guest! 

Before I got heavily into 
R&B, I was a big fan 
of instrumentals, mostly 
guitars and drums. I still 
enjoy them, and these 
were probably my most 
vanilla days, when 
chocolate was Nestle's 
Quik, Ovaltine, Hershey's 
Syrup or 1/3 of the 
Neopolitan ice cream 
which my parents usually 
bought. These are a 
couple of my favorites, 
long since gone, that I'd 
like to share with you. 

I just flashed on a 
popular dance tune 
from our teen years. 
"Hot Pastrami" by the 
Dartells was a 1963 
hit record derived 
from "(Do the) 
Mashed Potatoes" 
a fine but poor 
performing 1960 
record released 
by Nat Kendrick 
and the Swans. 

"Hot Pastrami" - Dartells 
(May 1963, highest chart position #11) 

"Hot Pastrami" was popular with almost all the local bands 
playing at the Oaks and every other venue in York, 
Lancaster and Harrisburg. This A-side ain't squat, though. 
The B-side, and I really mean Killer Bee, was called 
"The Dartell Stomp" and it was the real favorite with all the 
bands and those of us who came to listen. 

"Dartell Stomp" - Dartells 
(uncharted flipside of Hot Pastrami") 

I'm not positive, but I think that record was popular 
around the same time as "Wipeout". Oh, for a 
Gino Giant or Big Boy at the Dell! 

Ron, you're close. "Wipe Out" by the Surfaris started its long 16 week chart run around the time that "Hot Pastrami" was fading away. "Wipe Out" shot to #2 but was blocked from reaching the top of the chart by Little Stevie Wonder's "Fingertips, Pt. 2," a song that you talked about in one of your earlier features.

"Wipe Out" - Surfaris (August 1963, 
highest chart position #2) 

There's another surf classic on the back side of "Wipe Out." It's a vocal rather than an instrumental but it's too good to miss, especially since it fits right in with our seasonal series Summer Means Fun. Here's the soggy saga of "Surfer Joe."

"Surfer Joe" - Surfaris (September 1963, 
highest chart position #62) 

Both of those Safaris classics can be found on Cowabunga! The Surf Box. So can "Church Key" by The Revels, and Ron, this is where I toss back to you.

Shady, "Church Key" is another 
great surf rock instrumental.  
It was a Pick Hit of the Week 
on WSBA and made the 
station's Top 40, but for some 
reason didn't stay on the local 
chart too long. 

"Church Key" - Revels 
(with Barbara Adkins) (1960, uncharted) 

Ron, let me add a few more at this point.  One of the leading instrumental groups of the 60s was the Ventures and my record collection included their two biggest hits. "Walk-Don't Run" soared up the chart to the #2 position in the summer of 1960 but bumped its head on two giant hits that traded places at #1 and never relinquished the top spot to other worthy contenders. The two songs I'm talking about were "It's Now or Never" by Elvis Presley and "The Twist" by Chubby Checker. The Ventures gave their tune another spin in 1964 and cracked the top 10.

"Walk-Don't Run '64" - Ventures 
(August 1964, highest chart
position #8) 

And here's a timely tune now that Hawaii Five-O is back on the boob tube.

"Hawaii Five-O" - Ventures 
(April 1969, highest chart position #4) 

I can sum up our instrumental extravaganza by telling you that my Pick to Click is "Church Key" by The Revels, a band that was shredding surf rock before that music category even existed.  If you listen to their Sundazed CD you'll hear them covering "Tequila" by the Champs and sounding a lot like them on that and other tracks. The Revels put down a pound of sound that featured a wailin' sax.

Here are the reinvented Revels performing a rousing rendition of "Wipeout" live in concert in 1992:

And finally please watch this clip of The Revels performing their hit "Church Key" on the TV show California Music in 1992.

Thank you again, 

Dell Rat Ron Shearer 

for treating us to 

tunes with 'tude! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. Hey Hey! I'm the first one to comment today my dear friend. That must be a first! Rat Ron picked some good ones there, and I enjoyed listening to them. My favourite today was Walk - Don't Run. I used to love the instrumental records in the 60's. A particular favourite was Duanne Eddy with his guitar. Loved The Shadows (Cliff Richard's backing group). I also loved B Bumble and the Stingers (Nautilus and Nut Rocker!). Good memories today Shady. Thank you and thank Ron!

  2. Thisisme - If you loved those instrumentals I'll have you know that Dell Rat Ron's got more of them in Part 2 of his series later this year. Ron's feature will include B. Bumble. I also have Duane Eddy and his twangy guitar coming up in a couple of other posts. It's great to hear from you, dear friend! Enjoy basking in the English sunshine today!

  3. Due to living behind the iron curtain for over 45 years, most people in middle-eastern europe never heard about the artists you describe on your blog. Such a pity.

  4. Wanilianna - Hello, dear friend! You are so right. Now that the curtain has parted and the wall has tumbled down people can catch up on all that they have missed, and there is much of it on both sides. I am delighted by your visit. I hope that you found something to like in this set of vintage instrumentals. Have a wonderful day in Poland, dear Wanilianna!

  5. Well Ron & Shady this was great as a lot of my favorite music is instrumentals. While I was watching the video of "Wipe-Out" I realized how much I had missed those girls, I mean the great music. Walk Don't Run was always one that made me feel good and I have Hawaii 5 0 as my tone when I get a text message. It had been so long I temporarily forgot what a church key was until I saw the video and then it was all clear again. Thanks for refreshing my memory of useful objects. Us old timers need all the refreshing we can get. Have a wonderful rest of the week.

  6. Odie - You brought up an interesting topic about words or terms that are no longer used. How many times did guys our age pass around that good old church key? Today, few young people would make the connection or understand why we even needed one. When I play videos like "Wipe-Out" I always look away so as to avoid those disturbing images of jiggling, bikini clad women! Thank you for coming over for a listen (and a look), Odie, and have a pleasant afternoon in Carolina!

  7. Shady and Ron, I really enjoyed listening to this music today, let me rephrase that ... ♫ EXPERIENCING ♫ these wonderful instrumentals! You made my day, Shady, seeing Candy Johnson dancing to "Wipe Out", a song that was made for her! (Last I heard she is alive and well, living in seclusion in southern California) I remembered "Surfer Joe"! Don't you just love the way the chorus is sung? I admit, I am old enough to know but didn't, I had to Google "church key". ;~) I'm looking forward to Vol. II as Ron once again "instrumentally reminiscences".

    Thank you so very much, Shady and Ron!

  8. Cindy - Thank you for coming over for a visit, dear friend! I remember reading your post about Candy Johnson the first day that I signed on as a follower of your blog. I had a feeling that you'd have something to say about her again today. I'm surprised you didn't know the term "church key." Now that you understand what it was listen to the song again and you'll hear the sound effect as it punches a hole in a fresh can of... soda pop! Bless you, Cindy, and have a wonderful Tennessee evening!

  9. My husband listened in to these songs, Shady. He loves surfer music. We enjoyed these immensely and remembered all of them! Wipe Out is the favorite I think.

  10. Belle - Did you marry Surfer Joe? (LOL) "Wipe Out" seems to be collecting most of the votes today, perhaps because it was the biggest hit of the bunch. Maybe it also has something to do with those exciting images of Buster Keaton dancing... yeah, that's the ticket! Thanks so much for coming by, dear friend Belle, and have a great evening in Western Canada!

  11. Interesting selection of instrumentals there---some familiar, some new. Love it! Had the first four Ventures singles, both A & B sides were great. The fourth, "Lullaby of the Leaves" rivalled "Walk, Don't Run" and the B-side, "Ginchy" was a favorite of many also. "Dartell Stomp" received twice as much play at the Dell as "Hot Pastrami", which also got a lot of play. Can't say which was more popular, "Wipeout" or "Surfer Joe"---I think they got equal play in John's jukebox. I thank Cindy for naming Candy Johnson, as the familiar attractive lady dancing to "Wipeout". Had me wondering. Liked the more recent Ventures (alway 5-O), and live Revels. Don't get me started on Duane Eddy, the twangy ex-husband of Jessie Colter ("I'm Not Lisa") before she married Waylon Jennings. A rockin' bunch of songs and bloggers, thanks to you, Shady!

  12. Ron - It's great to know that there are still many people who appreciate instrumentals. One of the most recent instrumentals that I remember was produced in 1987 and I'll include it when I present Part 2 of your feature Instrumentally Yours later this year. Thanks so much for all your contributions and for your comment here tonight, good buddy!

  13. Hi Shady,
    I've been following in disguise for a bit, heard about your blog and love the thoughtful comments you always leave on Thisisme and Gawgus Things blogs. I do love the music you've shared and the instrumentals of yesteryear. Growing up in New Orleans, with Al Hirt and Pete Fountain we had lots of instrumentals on our juke box!

    Here's to following you fa tru!

  14. Sush - Hello and welcome to Shady Dell Music & Memories! I'm so glad you came out of hiding and I sincerely thank you for choosing to follow my blog. Your support means a lot to me. Any friend of Thisisme and Gawgus is also a friend of mine. I am delighted to meet you, Sush, and I hope that you will enjoy the variety that I try to present here. (No mean spirited gangsta rap or intense heavy metal, I promise you!) Have a wonderful day up Carolina way, my new friend, and say hello to my pal Odie if you run into him!

  15. these are fun songs. I wish more bands would try this instrumental genre out. Its a dying art for sure. There is a current band (Explosions in the Sky) that does some great things with no vocals but plenty of interesting instrumental arrangements. Have a great weekend!

  16. Amber Blue Bird - I'll look them up! Thanks for the tip, dear friend, and have a safe and happy New England weekend, okay?

  17. Ooh I liked Hot Pastrami and Dartell Stomp, oh and Walk don't run...heck I liked em all! Particularly Wipeout though. That song is the sound of summer here in my little surf town (along with the Beach Boys of course). But as many times as I've heard it, I'd never seen the video. And man was that hilarious! Thanks Shady and Dell Rat Ron too,for the most excellent post!

  18. Alabee - I'm glad these happy tunes resonated and that you are finding reasons to smile again. Your visits buoy my spirits, my dear friend! Have a wonderful weekend, Alabee!

  19. loved this one my friend. But now I have wipe out stuck in my head, giggle

  20. Katie - You're right, "Wipe Out" is the kind of tune that can easily get stuck in your head. Ever since I posted it I've been playing it in my mind day and night. I can think of worse thinks for our minds to dwell on, right? I'm so glad to hear from you, dear Katie. Hugs to you and have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

  21. I'm glad to announce, that since yesterday, all posts on my blog will be in english, too. :-)

  22. Wanilianna - That's wonderful! The translation tool sometimes doesn't enable proper English translation. I hope this helps! Happy Sunday to you, dear friend!

  23. Ron and Shady, I'm a little late with this comment due to vacation. I agree about the Dartells. They were a big favorite and the Stomp was the preferred side. One of my favorite instrumentals was "Last Night" by the Markeys???. I think I will Wiggle Wobble out of here.


  24. Jerre - You mentioned another great tune, Les Cooper's "Wiggle Wobble," which charted during Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1962 and made it to #22. If you like instrumentals, stay tuned. Ron and I will be back in less than three weeks with Part 2 of Instrumentally Yours! Thanks for your comment, Jerre!


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