Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Billy-Blast-Off And The Surf Rockets - Live KCR (12.27.2007)dotdotdotdot
artworkBilly Scanlan and his buddies from The Detonators did a hot set at KCR. The performance and arranging strentth outweigh the more or less ambient mono sound, making this a strong recommendation that they get into a studio and record these songs. They may be all covers, but the arrangements are too cool to go undocumented. So, ignore the very poor audio quality and listen to a bunch of solid musicians that have a unique sound and a wonderful sense of structure.
Picks: Unidentified, Journey To The Stars, The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, Albatross, Jack The Pusher Too Hard, Bat Man, He Never Came Back, Paint It Black, White Rabbit, The Magnificent Seven, Johnny Angel, Penetration, Fortunate Baja, Guitar Boogie Shuffle, Hot Line, Us And Them, The Wedge, The Endless Summer

Track by Track Review


Unidentified dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a romping riff surfer with cool glissandos and a jammin' structure. Cool whammy chords and great drums. I don't recognize this, and they didn't back announce it.

Journey To The Stars dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Ventures' "Journey To The Stars" is done with reverence and flair. The gutty double picked leads and jangly rhythm give it a post surf feel, but the glissandos pull it right back in. Great spunk!

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Enio Morricone's "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly" is done with liquid jangle for a really fresh sound. The stinging whammy chords are intense in the way some eighties bands achieved. Very cool!

Albatross dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Peter Green's slithery "Albatross" is liquefied and shimmered with glorious whammy. The drums are perfect, the bass right where it needs to be, and the guitar simply shining. Wonderful!

Jack The Pusher Too Hard dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a merger between The Seeds "Pushin' Too Hard" and Link Wray's "Jack The Ripper." It's fascinating how the rhythm track to "Pushin' Too Hard" works so well behind the melody to "Jack The Ripper." The passages to "Pushin' Too Hard" illustrate what a great song it is. It winds down with the post-explosion ending verse to Love's "Seven And Seven Is." This is a superb arrangement!

Bat Man dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a nicely surfed up version of Neil Hefti's "Bat Man." Great glissandos up and down the neck add charm to this very fun arrangement.

He Never Came Back dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Ventures' "He Never Came Back" is done with significantly more oomph than the v-boys did it. Gritty and less goofy than the original.

Paint It Black dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" has been done a few times. This almost makes it seem like it written for a surfband instead of the Devil's own. The rhythm guitar is what makes that so. The rhythm guitar drops into wah-wah for the break, and the lead goes bonkers with a double picked rampage. I like this arrangement a lot.

White Rabbit dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Darby Slick's anthem that his ex-sister-in-law Grace Slick brought to Jefferson Airplane to become their first hit is completely surfed and bigger than life. The double pick verse is intense, and the entire arrangement oozes charm and psychedelic surf.

The Magnificent Seven dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Elmer Bernstein's theme to the film is done in a pretty straightforward fashion. On the jangly side, with swimming whammy chords. Quite nice.

Johnny Angel dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Shelley Fabares' "Johnny Angel" would seem unlikely, but Billy Blast-Off and the Surf Rockets make it seem like it was intended as a romantic surf epic. There was a time when pop songs had great melodies. Lyn Duddy and Lee Pockriss wrote this lovely piece in 1962. Totally cool!

Penetration dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Relatively traditional, tis version of The Pyramids' "Penetration" is on the jangly side, but is ripe with great rhythm. very nicely done.

Fortunate Baja dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a splendid merger between The Astronauts' "Baja" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son." The penchant for unlikely mergers that Billy Blast-Off and the Surf Rockets have is matched by the skill with which they blend them. Perhaps more like a medley, but when "Fortunate Son" whammies into that surf rhythm and encounters intense tone and double picked notes, well, you just know it was meant for the surf. Superb!

Guitar Boogie Shuffle dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Virtues' "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" is reverbed and romped as if rockabilly was meant for reverb. Simple and direct, and liquefied for a really fun time. Excellent!

Hot Line dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Ventures' "Hot Line" is a gutty glissando exercise that's compelling. The whammy and the jangle chords create an original sound for this venerable classic.

Us And Them dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a splendid cover of Pink Floyd's "Us And Them," making one wonder if The Megadeaths shouldn't have changed their name to Pink Surf! This is very fluid and brings out an image of gently rolling swells. Amazing!

The Wedge dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Al Hazan's song is done the way Dick Dale and his Del-tones' liberated it, but with more edgy guitar and jangle. The string swipes are really cool here. Great drums!

The Endless Summer dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A little wah-wah, delicate rhythm guitar, and you get a semi-psychedelic reinvention of this classic film score. You can imagine Lemon Pipers doing this! Way cool.