Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Mark Brodie and the Beaver Patrol - The Shores Of Helldotdotdotdot
artworkThere aren't enough stars for this one... on a scale of one to five, this rates a 9-1/2. I have raved about Mark's singles, and boasted of holding my breath until the CD came, but I was unprepared for just how gorgeous it would be. The CD contains the tracks from the two singles, plus a pastel of new stuff that just rips. As I suspected, the quality of performance audible on vinyl only hints on how good it sounds on CD. Mark Brodie is turning out to be one of the great writers of modern surf instros. Like Rick Escobar of the Woodies, Mark has an understanding of the structure of the great trad surf tunes, and a knack for creating new tunes and arrangements that sound as though they could have been written in '63, and are at the same time fresh and new sounding. There are a couple of tracks that use a keyboard, and I'm glad it's only a couple, because it really doesn't work well. With Mark's style being so pure, piano a la Dave Myers or the Chantays would work if he has a need to embellish with keys. The recordings are very consisted aurally track to track, with a few exceptions. The sound is so good, that I wanna know what's going on in the control room. There is that vintage play-quiet-and-I'll-make-it-come-out-loud sound coexisting with modern pristine methods. The resulting combination of Mark's writing, his playing style, the sound of his guitar & amp, the studio & mastering is an order of magnitude above most recordings I've heard in the last few years. What this all means is that this is one hell of a great CD. Mark is backed up by fellow British Columbian surfnaught Ralph Johnston (Ralph & the Garage Surfers / Fridge Magnets / Surfdusters w/ Rich Hagensen of Live Wire magazine) on bass, and Ed Frey on drums.
Picks: Frogs Can't Surf, Jezebel, Scratch, Bitch Stole My Board, Death At Mile Zero, Wedgie, Day The Surf Stood Still, Spin Cycle, Banzai Rider, Scarlett O'Hara, Theme From The Old West, Bad Hair Day, Suicide Ride, Meltdown, Phantom Wave, The Shores Of Hell

Track by Track Review


Frogs Can't Surf dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A "frog" in Canadian slang terms is a French Canadian. The track opens with a croaking voice speaking in French. The melody is strikingly melodic, in a manner that might have come from the pen of Henry Mancini or one his contemporaries. It's almost soundtrack material, theme music for a TV show. The melody is very sophisticated, yet simple and pure. A fine surf piece.

Jezebel dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a fine cover of the Illusions' cover of the Frankie Lane classic western tune. It sports a lighter sound than the Illusions, while featuring a much brighter fluid dribbling of double picked lead notes. Really striking to hear. Lots of energy, and very strong.

Scratch dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Gene Moles' classic made famous by Eddie & the Showmen and played by many surf bands of the day, this is a solid strait ahead cover. It shines, has the drama of the Showmen version, and the spit shine of Mark's guitar. Cool.

Bitch Stole My Board dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The melody doesn't suggest the title. This is a very fine song, more suited to a "Big Day At Pleasure Point" kinda title, with a mid tempo pace and a slightly sad sound. This seems to sneak immediately into your gut with a melodic and emotional sound and melody. A great track.

Death At Mile Zero dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Chunky and dramatic, this song creates a solid and dangerous image of demise at the hands of a monster tube. Mark uses stop-start chunk to create the drama in the bridge, while the heavy low-E double picked melody delivers the ride before the crash. A fine piece of writing.

Wedgie dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A light hearted melody, infectiously delivered with plenty of energy. Mark's writing style brings a grin to my face. This tune sports fine fast double picking, and an effective happy lilt. Cool

Day The Surf Stood Still dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track issues images of large rolling surf, pure trad joy in Mark's sound and style. It hardly suggest a static condition. Great to drive to, fluid and infectious.

Spin Cycle dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Unlike mark's other work, this is organ heavy, and less interesting. Maybe the brooding organ is appropriate for a "Big Day At The Laundromat" or an hour watching the Maytag repairman. Not my cup of tea.

Banzai Rider dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Chunky, low-E melody line, wonderfully memorable, and fast paced powerhouse delivery. This is an ominous track that creates an image of danger on major waves. It sticks with you, and brings pleasure with each listening. Great double picking.

Scarlett O'Hara dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

When Jet Harris & Tony Meehan recorded this back in '62, I thought there could be equally fine rendition. That held true for 35 years, until Mark blasted this surfy version onto tape. I remember playing this the day Shig & Buzz visited me at KFJC. Peter "Buzz" Miller was a production assistant to Joe Meek and guitarist in England's Peter Jay & the Jaywalkers. They used to do this song in their sets after Jet Harris & Tony Meehan had a hit with it (a great record - check it out). Peter currently runs a studio and recording school in San Francisco (Peter Miller Recording). On hearing this track, Peter commented "Is that the 'Scarlett' song? That's really good!" And, so it is. This is a stellar performance and an infectious track.

Theme From The Old West dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a cowboys and Indians thing with a lot of flair, and a fine melody. It's melody is unusual for the genre, but appropriate just the same. A great track, full of drama and power.

Bad Hair Day dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of those totally happy surf tracks, with beautiful dribbling glissandoes, and an infectious melody line. It rolls along at a steady pace, invokes smiles, and takes no prisoners. It has remained my favorite Brodie track from the first moment I heard it. I particularly like the use of glissandoes as an integral part of the melody line and as fluid transitions between lines, rather than an add-on gap filler. The writing here is brilliant. The track is optimistic and very strong.

Suicide Ride dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Such a happy melody and delivery. It has the joy and adrenaline of the danger, but not the peril. This is highly melodic and memorable. The glissandoes literal dribble out of the guitar. The organ break provides a rest, and is not overbearing. The guitar work is stellar. A fine track.

Meltdown dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The organ under the guitar provides a foundation off of which Mark's guitar can be launched. The melody is both sad and optimistic, like a sunrise after a disaster. This fluid track is endearing and very listenable. Spanish flair here and there ads to the draw of the recording. Quite nice.

Phantom Wave dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Low down low-E growl, single note melody moderately delivered with a dark intent. Moody and morose.

The Shores Of Hell dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Huge ugly guitar choking and general jam-inspired noise introduces the track. Twisted guitar tones and flying double picking combine for a scary ride. Very different than the other tracks here. Powerful. It ends in the same cacophony manner it began in. The creams of the condemned underlie the track, adding to the tortured sounds.