Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Al Casey - Jivin' Arounddotdotdot
artworkAl Casey was the actual creator of the sound Duane Eddy made famous. He played rhythm, and in some cases lead, on Eddy's hits while they were both with Lee Hazelwood. Lee produced the nearly evil masterfully dark surf mung that comprises the first half of this CD. It comes from Al's album "Surfin' Hootenanny." The CD is mastered from the original mono tapes due to the disappearance of the stereo masters. The sessions were recorded at RCA Hollywood, where the Astronauts cut their classics, but under the hands of Jack Miller instead of Al Schmidt. The band on the surf sessions was Al Casey - lead guitar, Vivian Casey - bass, Don Preston - guitar, Marshall Leib - guitar, Leon Russell - organ, and Hal Blaine - drums. The second half of the CD contains a whole lot of Al's earlier bluesy work, that is marvelous in it's own right. Al was a monster guitarist in a horn era, and laid the groundwork for a lot of other to follow.
Picks: Surfin' Hootenanny, El Aguila (The Eagle), Thunder Beach, Baja, Surfin' Blues - Part 1, Lonely Surfer, Guitars, Guitars, Guitars, The Hearse, Ramrod, Caravan, Surfin' Blues - Part 2, Surf's You Right

Track by Track Review


Surfin' Hootenanny dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Al and producer Lee Hazelwood took a basically cool jam/compliment to the surf bands tracks and placed the Blossoms (K-C-Ettes) over the top inspired by Dick Dale's "King Of The Surf Guitar," rendering it an interesting time capsule, but not particularly great surf, and hiding some otherwise grand guitar work.

El Aguila (The Eagle) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Lee Hazelwood produced this album, and since he wrote this, it is likely that he intended it to sound like this, as opposed to the way the Astronauts played it. This is a wonderful tune, and Al's guitar work does it justice.

Thunder Beach dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Inspired by or adapted from his collaborative work with Jody Reynolds & the Storms' killer classic "Thunder," this tune is great to have. Al makes everything sound big.

Baja dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Everyone knows Lee Hazelwood classics like "Baja" from the Astronauts, but it is Lee's production with Al Casey that probably makes it sound like Lee intended...slow and painful! Al had pretty good meter, as was required for his the slow treatment. It gives the song a completely different feel than any other version.

Surfin' Blues - Part 1 dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A blues jam that Al wrote in the studio.

Lonely Surfer dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Ok tune, but not particularly note worthy.

Guitars, Guitars, Guitars dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Duane Eddy tribute/reaction single. OK, but not great.

The Hearse dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is magnificent. Al's interpretations of Lee's writing is amazing. He has a knack for slow pacing without a loss of power. Deep reverb and pure surf sounds. I have often wondered if this is how Lee Hazelwood intended "The Hearse" to sound, since he was a part of these sessions.

Ramrod dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Al reportedly played lead on the Duane Eddy hit single, because Duane was on tour when the studio was booked. Al was his studio rhythm player, but seldom played live with him. This is the same arrangement, played with complete abandon.

Caravan dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Al's playing on Duke Ellington's "Caravan" is really cool. It has a mean tenor about it, and the tribal toms give it such a primal feeling. This is the best surf version out there!

Surfin' Blues - Part 2 dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Part 2 of the studio jam.

Surf's You Right dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another Lee Hazelwood number. Among the great surf pun titles, and a cool tune that's pretty darn fast and melodic. It has some similarities to "Deep In The Heart Of Texas."