The Marketts Take to Wheels

by: The Marketts

Instrumental pop combo the Marketts were at their best when they were working a good gimmick, such as the "Twilight Zone"-influenced "Out of Limits" or the theme from the TV series Batman. Unfortunately, the closest thing they had to a gimmick on 1963's Take to Wheels album was the notion that all the songs somehow involved cars or driving, and that's not quite enough to keep this from sounding like an assembly-line creation. The Marketts were a studio creation under the direction of producer Joe Saraceno, and while these 12 cuts are tight and professional throughout, they rarely feel inspired; while some producers of the era had a knack for making session musicians sound energized and forceful, like a real band, on Take to Wheels the Marketts seem for all the world like a bunch of guys playing on the clock, even when the arrangements are lively and the tunes are catchy, such as the rollicking sax-driven "Twice Pipes," the slinky "Bucket Seats," and "Sting Ray," which opens with a melodic hook played on actual car horns. Take to Wheels is good fun for folks with a taste for instrumental rock of the pre-Beatles era, and Saraceno knew how to lay a good honking sax line over a tough surf-influenced rhythm section, but while Ventures records from this period sound lean, tight, and exciting, Take to Wheels is good background music and not much more, despite the high level of craft. ~ Mark Deming

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