Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Bongo King - Operation Latin Surfdotdotdotdot
artworkBongo King is the linear descendent of the sadly short lived Category5, founded in 1996 by drummer Kevin Baetz with Jan Press (ex-Surf Piranhas) on guitar. Dennis Rico - guitar and Mario Palacios - bass fill out the band. Shortly after Category5's demise, Baetz set about forming a new band with a different focus. By 1997, they were playing live. By '98, they began recording. New is an understatement. Bongo King is charting entirely new territory. Great Latin percussion that immediately brought fifties Village Gate recordings to mind is set against surf guitar, and held together by smooth fluid bass. This is the freshest sound I've heard in a while, and it's very interesting and friendly.
Picks: Salsa Safari, Wall Of Death, Prisoner In Paradise, Bootie Wagon, Head Honcho, Monster Hole, M'Chango, Mole Party, El Conquistador, Drain Pipe (aka Freaky Shieky), Midnight Ride, Buried Alive, Snake Charmer, Lonely At The Top, Shark Pit, Full Bore, Island Fever, Big Gun Shootout, Midnight Ride

Track by Track Review


Salsa Safari dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Wow... what an interesting concept this is! Latin percussion that has been captured with the sound of a Herbie Mann at the village gate jazz album, excellent fluid surf guitar with a tad of delay, and thumpin' solid bass. This is simply the freshest thing I've heard in a long time.

Wall Of Death dotdotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

The sultry smooth island opening of this track lulls you into a false sense of calm just before the double overhead drops in your unsuspecting head... never turn your back on the ocean. The effect is cool, and after the frantic ride, "Wall Of Death" drops back into the island breezes as if nothing has happened. Very nice.

Prisoner In Paradise dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Very sultry, shimmering guitar, moody images, percussional tribal adventure, and the smell of the palms at the sea shore... very smooth and enjoyable.

Bootie Wagon dotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

In a vein slightly right of "Night Train" and just outside of the Bar-Kays, "Bootie Wagon" is a funky little low rider tune, with Memphis guitar and a saucy backtrack.

Head Honcho dotdotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

"Head Honcho" is a fine tune, rockin' drums with a warm Latin-ized "Pushin' Too Hard" kinda rhythm. The melody line is very friendly, except in the jammy break. Excellent track.

Monster Hole dotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

"Jaws" and bongos, danger and low-E guitar, and exotic risky bass. It's an adventure at the edge of the abyss. The bongos rage throughout as the guitar's melody grumbles and threatens.

M'Chango dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Yikes! "M'Chango"'s blend of village jazz percussion sound and double picked Spanish surf guitar is simply essential listening. The contrast between the then and now and the percussion and the surf are held together by the solid round bass. This is a marvelous track.

Mole Party dotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

Those little baggers that dig holes in the lawn and can't see worth a damn... or maybe the spy in the canteena. It makes no difference. The Spanish brawl feel of this is very Spaghetti Western, with its yelps and hollers, the bongos, and the acoustic guitar.

El Conquistador dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"El Conquistador" is a mid tempo number with a real sense of the romanticized Spanish adventure in the Americas. It's a stunning piece of music, fit for a film score. Warm, somewhat sad, exotic, fluid, and great listening.

Drain Pipe (aka Freaky Shieky) dotdotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

"Drain Pipe" is a powerful surf number. A solid melody riff, big whammy twang, and full bodied rhythm. With its surf-raging glissando-crashing guitar in command, this is my fave from this disc.

Midnight Ride dotdotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

This is an excellent track. The melody is very good, and the rhythm infectious. Perhaps more than any other tracks here, this defines the album's title. Latin, surf, and bongos in an endearing setting.

Buried Alive dotdotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

Infectious surf in a trad vein, with infectious guitar work and solid rhythm. The great damped reverb midsection drips surf reverb. While the break is entirely original, "Buried Alive" is remarkably similar to the Road Runners' "Quasimodo." Excellent!

Snake Charmer dotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

"Snake Charmer" is a middle eastern flavored bit of weirdness, with more of the desert than surf, at least until the double picked guitar comes in. Very cool!

Lonely At The Top dotdotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

"Lonely At The Top" sports a saucy Latin groove, a warm summer melody. and beautiful guitar work. The delicately played out leads are most delightful.

Shark Pit dotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

Old school surf with bongos, rapid pace, thundering drums, and a bit of "Mr. Moto" to anchor it in the roots of surf. A very good track, with an infectious rhythm and sound.

Full Bore dotdotdotdot
Latin Rock (Instrumental)

Yikes, metallic assault surf for the Univision generation. While this is quite exciting, it's also a far cry from the rest of this disc. Fiery hot, Latin rock, exotic bongos, and no shortage of drive.

Island Fever dotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

Tropical de la delicado. Beautiful Latin rhythms, fine guitar work, Cuban feel, and a highly enjoyable sound.

Big Gun Shootout dotdotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

With a hint of spaghetti western, surf tone, and that marvelous percussion, this track oozes a blend of spies and meanness, while rolling out with a fluid melody line. It's very exotic, and it has quite a bit of power. Again, a fresh new sound. Excellent!

Midnight Ride dotdotdotdot
Latin Surf (Instrumental)

This is an excellent track. The melody is very good, and the rhythm infectious. Perhaps more than any other tracks here, this defines the album's title. Latin, surf, and bongos in an endearing setting.