Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Astronauts - Competition Coupe / Surfin' With The Astronautsdotdotdotdot
artworkThis two-fer couples the Astronauts lone surf and rod albums for an irresistible buy. About half their material is vocal, and even that is better than most. Check out "Competition Coupe" for edgy energetic rod vocals - hard to beat! They were a spectacular band.
Picks: Baja, Misirlou, Surfers Stomp, Pipeline, Banzai Pipeline, Movin', Let's Go Trippin', Batman, The Hearse, Devil Driver's Theme, Chevy Scarfer, El Aguila (The Eagle)

Track by Track Review

Baja dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Baja" displays power of their trademark three guitar line up, and shows what a few weeks at RCA Hollywood could do. Actually, having said that, I'd really like to remix this. The lead guitar is too loud in the mix. Anyway, if there's a list of the ten most significant surf singles, this must be on it. Hazelwood had a knack for melody, and the Astronauts had a knack for the sound, and together, look out!

Misirlou dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The lead sound is less than the powerhouse Dick Dale sound, but they have done a good job getting the energy down, and the feel of the melody just right.

Surfers Stomp dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Joe Saraceno's wimpy big band surf pop hit was first made into a real surf song right here. Old Joe had the melody, but it took a band with real guitars to make it work. Credible track.

Pipeline dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

None of the delicacy of the Chantays or the edge of the Lively Ones. It's a good track, just not remarkable.

Banzai Pipeline dotdotdotdot
Beat Generation Surf (Instrumental)

When Henry Mancini named this, he undoubtedly was capitalizing on the surf trend du jour, but he gave it none of the hallmark characteristics of a surf instro, not the beat, the melody, or anything. When he recorded it, he gave it the big band sound he was famous for, and given it's Beat Generation structure, that was a perfect match. Undaunted, Boulder, Colorado's Astronauts used the classic surf instrumentation to recreate it into a surf classic, if only because of it's reputation as the first crossing into the MOR-Lounge venue for surf material. It's quirky, completely uncharacteristic of surf, but curiously endearing and catchy. A fun track, for sure.

Movin' dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A Lee Hazelwood composition. This track was also covered by the Surfaris and Eddie and the Showmen. It's a great track for the Astronauts' three guitar line up. This version is better than any of the others from the vintage days of surf. It's melodic, energetic, and very cool.

Let's Go Trippin' dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

None of the immediacy of Dick Dale and the Del-tones. It's a good track, just not remarkable.

Batman dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another Lee Hazelwood composition, this track was also covered by the Surfaris. It's a good track for the Astronauts' three guitar line up, but not quite as interesting as "Movin'." It's melodic, energetic, and very cool. It is not the Neil Hefty TV theme.

The Hearse dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of the GREAT surf tracks. It has plenty of flair, and it is infectious as Hell. It is from the pen of Lee Hazelwood, future partner of Nancy Sinatra. A MUST HAVE recording.

Devil Driver's Theme dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The instro backtrack to the vocal, with a sax lead overdubbed. It has a great vibrato guitar underneath.

Chevy Scarfer dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A sax driven number that doesn't cut the mustard for me, with a definite hot rod bent.

El Aguila (The Eagle) dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Similar to "The Hearse," this great track is infectious and wonderful to drive down 101 to.