On the 'tube

The Ventures live in Japan 1966

1

And they were Fender guitar/bass guys before Mosrite.

1966 - same year Beatles played there on last tour.

Blond Showmans, it looks like.

2

Now they are playing Hallmarks. At least they were going to on this year's tour of Japan before it was cancelled.

3

Very classy presentation in the uniformity of costume, guitar (and even strap) color, matching amps identically displayed, choreography. Clean, elegant stage and crisp performance; loved the bow-unplug-and-exit-stage-right dismount.

Given that three guitarists and one drummer couldn't have been staged with complete symmetry (unless the guitars formed a triangle around the drummer, which symmetry would only be apparent from above), one might consider putting the bass guitar on the other side of the drums. Then those well-versed in rock instrumentation and observant would in a moment recognize the balance of having the rhythm section on one side and the "lead" contingent on the other. But in surf, it can be argued that not only is a fairly strictly constrained rhythm guitarist part of the rhythm section - but, given the percussive staccato velocity of the style, the lead guitarist is too.

So instead, we make a virtue of imbalance and ignore symmetry of presentation completely, instead having the guitarists regularly turn in respect for and obeisance to the drummer, recognizing the primacy of his incessant and regular rhythm, the force of nature which drives surf music like the tide.

All very very cool. The artfulness of it all seems clearly intended, from the radial gradient of light doing a subtle rising-sun (sometimes two suns...or a sun and moon) from the horizon behind the amps to the rigid formalism of the camera framing. Aside from one closeup of Nokie's face, there are really only three (perfectly still) camera positions: one focusing on the drums where the action is (not on the drummer), one full-front, and one from stage right - again making a minimalist virtue of simplicity.

All this rigid formalism serves to emphasize the tightly controlled ferocity of the playing: the force of the genie derives from its confinement in the bottle.

The same point is driven home by the oceanic wave of audience white noise from which the snare drum violence emerges at the beginning and into which the last note reverbs away - and the rapt silence of the audience between. The intensity of focus must have been felt by the band, and had something to do with the explosive energy with which they played. Nokie's solos (especially the last one) are incendiary - and I would not have wanted to be either the snare drum or the ride cymbal.

The only elements that detract even slightly from the overall Japanese garden effect are the small poster on the wall behind the band and the fact that the guitarists don't all turn in the same direction to unplug their cords before exiting. That last fact suggests to me that the stage arrangement and band choreography were suggested to the band by Japanese handlers, and the Ventures simply hadn't rehearsed that last bit enough for it to be second nature.

I love that the last shot is still focused on the stage setup of the gear.

And hey, Gretsch drums! And dig the aluminum dustcovers of JBLs gleaming darkly through the grillecloth of the amps. Pure class.

Also, imagine how loud it must have been. The tidy formal precision of the Ventures compositions juxtaposed with the power of that full-spectrum sonic assault: it was a perfect yin-yang of chaos constrained by order.

4

Tremolo picking on the bass during the guitar solos!

5

Very classy presentation in the uniformity of costume, guitar (and even strap) color, matching amps identically displayed, choreography. Clean, elegant stage and crisp performance; loved the bow-unplug-and-exit-stage-right dismount.

Given that three guitarists and one drummer couldn't have been staged with complete symmetry (unless the guitars formed a triangle around the drummer, which symmetry would only be apparent from above), one might consider putting the bass guitar on the other side of the drums. Then those well-versed in rock instrumentation and observant would in a moment recognize the balance of having the rhythm section on one side and the "lead" contingent on the other. But in surf, it can be argued that not only is a fairly strictly constrained rhythm guitarist part of the rhythm section - but, given the percussive staccato velocity of the style, the lead guitarist is too.

So instead, we make a virtue of imbalance and ignore symmetry of presentation completely, instead having the guitarists regularly turn in respect for and obeisance to the drummer, recognizing the primacy of his incessant and regular rhythm, the force of nature which drives surf music like the tide.

All very very cool. The artfulness of it all seems clearly intended, from the radial gradient of light doing a subtle rising-sun (sometimes two suns...or a sun and moon) from the horizon behind the amps to the rigid formalism of the camera framing. Aside from one closeup of Nokie's face, there are really only three (perfectly still) camera positions: one focusing on the drums where the action is (not on the drummer), one full-front, and one from stage right - again making a minimalist virtue of simplicity.

All this rigid formalism serves to emphasize the tightly controlled ferocity of the playing: the force of the genie derives from its confinement in the bottle.

The same point is driven home by the oceanic wave of audience white noise from which the snare drum violence emerges at the beginning and into which the last note reverbs away - and the rapt silence of the audience between. The intensity of focus must have been felt by the band, and had something to do with the explosive energy with which they played. Nokie's solos (especially the last one) are incendiary - and I would not have wanted to be either the snare drum or the ride cymbal.

The only elements that detract even slightly from the overall Japanese garden effect are the small poster on the wall behind the band and the fact that the guitarists don't all turn in the same direction to unplug their cords before exiting. That last fact suggests to me that the stage arrangement and band choreography were suggested to the band by Japanese handlers, and the Ventures simply hadn't rehearsed that last bit enough for it to be second nature.

I love that the last shot is still focused on the stage setup of the gear.

And hey, Gretsch drums! And dig the aluminum dustcovers of JBLs gleaming darkly through the grillecloth of the amps. Pure class.

Also, imagine how loud it must have been. The tidy formal precision of the Ventures compositions juxtaposed with the power of that full-spectrum sonic assault: it was a perfect yin-yang of chaos constrained by order.

– Proteus

Yeah that's what I was going to say!

6

Yes! Love, love, love this. It's actually their 1965 tour, and I believe Wipe Out was the end of their first set (they did two sets per show, second ending with a massive drum fest version of Caravan).

The Ventures Live In Japan records are eye opening compared to the more tepid, careful performances on the studio LPs. The tempo is accelerated, and guitar tone is ferocious, ably demonstrating the magic of high output single coils - the tone is fatter than a Fender, and there's twang on the low strings without ice pick tone on the high strings. As much as I'm a fan of reverb, there's something special about the Mosrite direct into brownface Showman.

Also, I'd say as far as the Ventures are concerned, the rhythm section is Mel Taylor (drums) and Don Wilson (rhythm guitar). Nokie Edwards (lead guitar) and Bob Bogle (bass) play melodically.

7

Dang they coulda had blond reverb units... but ahh, who needs that stuff. I guess these were single Showman but if this was 1965 they coulda had black panel Dual Showmans.

8

Does anyone know the original source material for the clip? I hadn't seen that before and I love everything about it. It would be great to have a full show of that era! You can still get a Ventures Live In Japan '93 DVD which is well worth it.

More Ventures stuff to look forward to

9

I'd say as far as the Ventures are concerned, the rhythm section is Mel Taylor (drums) and Don Wilson (rhythm guitar). Nokie Edwards (lead guitar) and Bob Bogle (bass) play melodically.

Interesting observation, and OK by me. It helps make sense of putting the bass furthest from the drums in this stage setup, rather than in the conventional closest position.

10

I saw the Ventures live in Tokyo in 1979. Great show and absolutely jam packed with middle aged "salarymen."

And it wasn't that loud in a packed 2,500 seat theater.

11

Thanks for posting. That was freakin' awesome.

12

Gretsch drums..............

13

This clip comes from a movie called Beloved Invaders, which documents their first tour of Japan in 1965, alrhough the movie came out on '66. The version of Slaughter on 10th Avenue in that film is even better than the one on the Live In Japan '65 album!

14

Opinions sought- Mel's version, or the Surfaris, where the drum lick is a variation on "Let's Go!" (1,2,1-2-3,1-2-3-4, LET'S GO!)

Which do you prefer?

(BTW- Did Mel have sizzlers on that cymbal? It's almost a droning sound.)

15

Can't argue against the original, so I'll take both!

16

Great topic. I have this on DVD. they look like they are having lots of fun touring Japan. "Beloved Invaders".

17

This clip comes from a movie called Beloved Invaders, which documents their first tour of Japan in 1965, alrhough the movie came out on '66. The version of Slaughter on 10th Avenue in that film is even better than the one on the Live In Japan '65 album!

– seadevil

I just received mine (along with a motherhood of "In the Vaults" CDs) from The Ventures online store. A nice handwritten "Thank You" from Fiona Taylor on the receipt. Looking forward to watching it!


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