Limited edition of 1500.
Chock full of prime dance-floor movers, with no mid-60s favourite left unturned, “Big Sixties Frat Party!!!” is conclusive proof that Sandy Nelson could make you dance to even the most gloomy Leonard Cohen tune. Although Sandy's New Orleans-style sax-led instros were mostly behind him by the time that he recorded the material here, his embrace of black music continued just the same as he took on Motown marvels such as the Temptations’ ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’ and the Supremes’ ‘My World Is Empty Without You’, soul heavyweight Wilson Pickett’s ‘Mustang Sally’, the Larks’ poised R&B on ‘The Jerk’ and Jimmy Smith's jazzy reworking of ‘I Got My Mojo Working’ with the vocal line replaced by an enormously fuzzed-up guitar. Best of all is Sandy stomping through Stevie Wonder’s ‘Nothing’s Too Good For My Baby’ featuring deep baritone sax, high-flying trumpets, shrieking Hammond organ and a beat that could power a rocket to Jupiter.
We also get beaty covers of the McCoys’ ‘Hang On Sloopy’, Paul Revere & the Raiders’ ‘Good Thing’ and ‘Just Like Me’, Tommy James & the Shondells’ bubblegum classic ‘Hanky Panky’, the Lovin’ Spoonful’s classy ‘Summer In The City’ and the Mamas & Papas’ haunting ‘Monday Monday’. Less expected are dynamite versions of Question Mark’s ‘I Need Somebody’, all stinging guitars delivered with a punk attitude, and a barmy treatment of Khachaturian’s ‘Sabre Dance’ taken at breakneck speed with Sandy’s tom-tom riff laying down the template for Al Capps’ imaginative arrangement. Who would have thought it was originally written as music for a ballet.
There’s a healthy dose of instrumental classics too with a thrilling chase through an echoey ‘Batman’, a ton of paradiddles on drum feature ‘Tim Tom Drum’, a brace of surfing classics with Dick Dale’s ‘Let’s Go Trippin’’ and all-time anthem ‘Pipeline’. Henry Mancini’s dramatic ‘Peter Gunn’ is a tour-de-force only ever previously heard on 45, and entirely different to the LP version. The jewel in the crown is ‘Casbah’, which reunites Sandy with Richie Podolor, who’d helped him create all of his big hit singles; Richie’s tune is a mesmerising blend of Eastern and surfing sensibilities and is a stone classic.
Sandy scored no less than 11 entries into the US album charts between 1962 and 1966, and with this compilation we draw from 10 of them. Although his style of music may have changed over the years, Sandy always gave it his all – plus he used the best producers, arrangers and musicians. Within you will hear the accomplished skills of producers Joe Sarceno, Dave Pell, Dallas Smith and Ted Glasser; arrangers Nick deCaro, Rene Hall, Don Peake, Al Capps and Mike Post as well as top Hollywood musicians such as guitarists Bill Pitman, Tommy Tedesco, Ben Benay, Dennis Budimir, Barney Kessell, Mike Deasy, Howard Roberts, Lou Morrell; saxmen Plas Johnson, Steve Douglas, Jim Horn, Jackie Kelso and Billy Green; bassists Carol Kaye, Larry Knechtel, Lyle Ritz, Red Callender and keyboard players Gene Garf, Mike Rubini, Ray Johnson, Jim Hobbs, Don Randi and Kay Klassy.
By Dave Burke