Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Avengers VI - Real Cool Hitsdotdotdotdot
artworkOn the one hand, the Avengers VI were a relatively small time band that connected to some interesting promotional opportunities not availed to others. And while not a stellar album, it is amazing to see this finally out on CD, and from tape sources instead of vinyl. Infinitely richer sounding than the LP, this is an important part of the surf epic, and a fascinating glimpse into the lower echelon bands of the era. They didn't actually release their album as a commercial release. Both this album, and the Mrs. Faruki's Suzuki collection were issued strictly as promotional devices for Good Humor and Suzuki, and not for general sale. Some tracks were not well recorded, and some not well mixed, while others were brilliant slices of trad surf. The band was from Southern California, with Jim Ferguson - lead, Jim Goodwin - rhythm, Rick Bastrup - rhythm, Curt Pickles - bass, Mike DeYoung - keyboards, and Bob Gallant - drums. "Time Bomb" c/w "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue" were issued as Mark 56 single 202 in February, 1966. This album came out in 1964. The original issues was Mark 534. This CD includes non-LP tracks, and has waited a long time to find release. Included here are several tracks not heard before, including the psychedelic surf marvel "Sahara."
Picks: Heartbeat, Downtown, Mr. Lucky, None But The Brave, The Avenger's Stomp, Slaughter On Tenth Avenue, Pipeline, Summer Place, Peter Gunn, Time Bomb, Hall Of The Mountain King, Coming Home Baby, Sahara

Track by Track Review

Heartbeat dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Heartbeat" is one of the great surf obscuros. It has a minor sadness, and a minimal melody that really works, backed by a cool walking backtrack, and great accents. Excellent whammy, and ringing tone. This is one of the essential surf tracks.

Downtown dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Yup, this is the theme from "Chariots Of Fire" all decked out with a new wave guitar, electric piano, and prancing sensibility. You can just see them grinning while they dash this out. Completely fun.

Mr. Lucky dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

TV and film scores were often on the charts through the early sixties. Many were covered by the MOR artists. Some also found their way into surf band set lists. This is a good example of what surf bands did with the hits du jour.

None But The Brave dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A film score styled original, melodic and well suited to the surf idiom. This is an enjoyable listen, with some very nice guitar work in a slightly Duane Eddy vein, especially in the break .

The Avenger's Stomp dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This original number is something like several Midwest pre-surf epics. The guitar quickly picks a fine riff, and in the break, the organ floats a different mood. Damn cool!

Slaughter On Tenth Avenue dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Eskimo Surf" sports an infectious melody, a rock edge, and cool almost xylophone-like keyboards. Nice arrangements, and very unusual writing combine to create a fresh and appealing sound. Almost dinner surf, maybe supermarket surf, but not in the negative way you might think of from that, but quite pleasant and very accessible. Fine track.

Pipeline dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Mar-Ketts classic tune, back from the dead like a discordant vampire in search of an abandoned neck. The ska backbeat and electric piano lead lines are very cool. It's a highly unusual treatment of this over covered tune. New Wave thumpy, TVOD pointed, and gnat irritating in a good way.

Summer Place dotdotdot
Sock Hop Surf (Instrumental)

The theme from "Summer Place" is tinkly slowly and gently played out with no particular enthusiasm or hook. Sock hop.

Peter Gunn dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a really fine surf rendering of Henry Mancini's detective theme. It's less gutty than Dick Dale's Le Disc session, but very reverby and chunky. Big twang, ultra damped reverbed rhythm, and splashy danger. Very cool!

Time Bomb dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a splendid original, with drum fury and a magnetic melody line that is quite sad. The organ and guitar trade roles from verse to verse. Minimal, but really cool.

Hall Of The Mountain King dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Classical music has been used as a launch pad for surf many a time, and while this is such an obvious choice, it's not been done before. The earliest rock version I can think of is from Britrockers Nero and the Gladiators.

Coming Home Baby dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

In a real departure, the Avengers VI use horns in a duet to produce a garage jazz rendering of Herbie Mann's classic.

Sahara dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Well now, rumbling drums and bass, middle eastern scenery, and psychedelic inferences permeate this interesting track. Late in their career, "Sahara" straddles the fence between surf and psych. Self-described as a combination of Dick Dale and Buffalo Springfield, this is a fabulous find.