The 2 cd set Telstar ! Instrumental Diamonds ' 58 - 77 is Volume 3 in a series of a little known (on these shores) British genre of instrumental music, which had it's heyday and peaked around 1963 with the release of The Tornados #1 smash hit Telstar . What makes this compilation interesting, considering it's already 3 volumes in, is the fact that Sanctuary Records just acquired the rights to the fantastic Tornados recordings found here. The Tornados were a Joe Meek production, and thus the sounds found on The Tornados records are quite unique and well worth searching out for anyone interested in 1960s music. Other groups found on this 60 song compilation include The Flee-Rekkers , The Eagles ( not the 70s US band), The Eliminators , The Guitar Workshop , Timebox , Sounds Orchestral , Niddy Griddy Band , Royal Blue , Laurie Johnson , Johnny Keaton , Barry Gray , Cherry Wainer , Rockin' Red Price , Bill Shepherd , Reg Owen , Joe Brown and Peter Willsher . Quite a list of acts. In addition to The Tornados , I had previously heard Sounds Orchestral and The Flee-Rekkers (another Joe Meek production) and had been searching for music by Timebox (in fact just last weekend!), so I was excited to hear this compilation.
Like most British compilations of this type, Telstar is definitely geared towards the instrumental fetishist. I'm quite sure there are those in Britain who are drooling over this compilation. While I was quite excited to hear this compilation, I must admit that a lot of it either wasn't in my taste or was not truly unique enough or exciting enough for me.
I love The Tornados , Sounds Orchestral , and The Flee-Rekkers , but sadly there isn't enough by Sounds Orchestral , and The Flee-Rekkers were spotlighted with better tracks in previous volumes. Tracks by Laurie Johnson , Johnny Keaton , Barry Gray , Cherry Wainer , Rockin' Red Price , Bill Shepherd , Reg Owen , and Joe Brown were interesting, but sounded too much like basic 60s big band soundtrack music, themes from tv or movies that I had never seen.
Groups like The Eliminators were much more exciting for me with their nice fuzz and percussion, and killer instrumental versions of Wipe Out , Pipeline , Black is Black , The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby , and The Stone's Satisfaction . The Guitar Workshop was a Tony Hatch project and stunning - with versions of Sugar Plums and Hall Of The Mountain King . Both these songs are tremendous productions that anyone from the 1960s would die to have. I was disappointed by The Eagles , but Timebox definitely lived up to my expectations with the incredible mod workout I Wish I Could Jerk Like My Uncle Cyril (what a great song title!) and the jazzy Soul Sauce .
Even though Telstar is a sprawling collection which might have too much music for the casual browser, I think the price negates any negativeness stemming from the inclusion of some inferior material or music not in my taste. The price could not be beat, and some of these instrumental tunes cannot be beat also. A fascinating genre which died out can be relived here in all of its glory.