Tuesday, December 15, 2015

walk, don't run

The Ventures made an impact when they broke into the mainstream with this sinewy surf rock saunter. Bob Bogle and Don Wilson started playing music together in Tacoma, Washington during weeknights while doing masonry work by day; at first as the Impacts and then as the Versatones. When their demo tape was rejected by Liberty Records subsidiary Dolton Records, they decided to form their own record label, Blue Horizon. Wilson says: "There were actually three partners: My partner and I, Bob Bogle and me, and my Mom. See, he was a bricklayer and I was a hot carrier. We were working eight hours a day, five, sometimes, six days a week. We didn't have time to run things around. She did. She did a lot of leg work. We were a three way partnership in that record company. But, it didn't take too much money to do." 

After their first single "Cookies and Coke" didn't go anywhere; they decided to stick with instrumentals and brought in the rhythm section of  Nokie Edwards and Skip Moore.   Their second single was inspired by the Chet Atkins version of a song written by Johnny Smith called "Walk, Don't Run".    Bogle:  "We found that on a Chet Atkins album. When we staked learning how to play, we started buying guitar records to listen to. It was on an album called 'Hi-Fi In Focus'. A jazz guitarist named Johnny Smith wrote it but we had never heard his version. He said he got the title from a sign he saw in the New York subway. If you put Chet Atkins version of the tune right next to ours, you wouldn’t recognize it as being the same song. He played it in a finger style, very advanced."

Wilson adds:   "He played it in a classical jazzy style and we couldn't play it like that. We weren't good enough. So we decided to make our own arrangement of it and simplify it and that's how that happened ... When we went to record it, we went to the only studio in Seattle at the time (it was in the guy’s basement). It was considered a commercial studio and he had 2-track Ampex equipment. His name was Joe Boles and it was called Boles Studio. We put the rhythm and drums on one track, and bass and lead on the other-and that’s the one you got!"

They brought the single to a DJ they knew at  KJR in Seattle, who played the song as the lead-in to the news.  It became a local sensation and Dolton Records offered them a deal for national distribution.   The song went to number two on the national pop chart for a month, being kept out of the top spot by  Elvis Presley's "It’s Now Or Never", Brian Hyland's "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini", and Chubby Checker's "The Twist".   

With their smash hit, the band was given the green light to record a full length album; so they quickly put together a collection of originals and covers as 'Walk, Don't Run'.  , which went on to be certified gold, reaching number eleven on the US album chart.  Wilson admits:   "You don’t know how many songs we have that are ‘Original No. 1’ or ‘Original No. 2’.  A lot of times we’d write 4 or 5 songs for an album", adds Bob, "and wind up getting some of the girls who worked at Liberty to help us title them. "

Bogle:  "When we did the first album, they didn’t have any pictures of us because we went on the road right away. In our place they used a picture of the guys who worked in the stock room downstairs at Liberty. They put dark glasses on them and had them falling over the drums and stuff. They put some pretty model walking by in the forefront so no one would notice their faces." 

Four years later, they re-recorded the song as the centerpiece of  the 'Walk-Don’t Run, Volume 2' LP, taking the song to the top ten again.  The album art parodies the cover of "Volume 1" but this time with the actual members of the band.  


"Walk, Don't Run"

"Walk, Don't Run 64"

"Perfidia" was the follow-up single, a top twenty hit later that same year.  Bogle:   "We had ‘Perfidia’ worked out before we even released Walk-Don’t Run".  It was part of our original repertoire, as was most of the material from our first two albums. I played lead on those things because Don and I already had those things worked out."

'Walk, Don't Run'

full album:

Side 1
"Morgen" (2:07) - Peter Mosser, Noel Sherman
"Raunchy" (2:16) - William E. Justis Jr.
"Home" (2:18) - Harry Clarkson, Jeff Clarkson, Peter Van Steeden
"My Own True Love (Tara's Theme)" (2:14) - Max Steiner
"The Switch" (1:56) - Bob Bogle, Nokie Edwards, Howard Johnson, Don Wilson
"Walk, Don't Run" (2:03) - Johnny Smith
Side 2
"Night Train" (2:50) - Jimmy Forrest, Lewis Simpkins, Oscar Washington
"No Trespassing" (1:58) - Bogle, Edwards, Wilson
"Caravan" (2:09) - Duke Ellington, Irving Mills, Juan Tizol
"Sleepwalk" (2:04) - Ann Farina, John Farina, Santo Farina
"The McCoy" (2:07) - Bogle, Wilson
"Honky Tonk" (2:44) - Billy Butler, Bill Doggett, Johnnie Scott, Shep Shepherd

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