Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Challengers - K-39dotdotdot
artworkThis album marked the transition between Richard Delvy drumming with his band in the studio, and upgrading to Hal Blaine, who's trademark tom-tom glissandos made such a mark with their "K-39" and "Pipeline." The addition of three bonus tracks makes this a pretty solid CD.
Picks: K-39, Out Of Limits, Wipe Out, Mr. Rebel, Telstar, Mark Of Zorro, Back Beat, One Mint Julip, Bedlam, Chiflado, Just Drums, Hot Rod Show

Track by Track Review

K-39 dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of those must have surf instros. It begins cleanly and calmly, but rapidly evolves a high energy spirit, due in part to the rabid drumming of Hal Blaine, the wailing sax from Steve Douglas, and the evolving double picked guitar leads. It wails and hollers. A great track. It is so different from the original early version!

Out Of Limits dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A studio outtake, with an unusual arrangement, nice use of the piano, and plinky second guitar. None of the intensity of the Mar-Ketts' original, but it is fun to listen to.

Wipe Out dot
Surf (Instrumental)

Gad zooks, have there not been enough failed covers of this song? Tepid, sluggish, and uninspired.

Mr. Rebel dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A decent cover of Eddie and the Showmen's one hit. The playing is solid, and the arrangement is mostly true to the original. Not unusual, but competent.

Telstar dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A spirited performance, in a purely surf forum, with the organ melody carried by a shiny double picked guitar. The energy is fine, and the arrangement is very good.

Mark Of Zorro dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Suggesting nothing of the title, no Spanish flavor (except the moderate mariachi horns in the break), and only occasional sword swipe sound effects. Otherwise, it's a nice track, not too melodic, but energetic and rhythmic. The overall melody suggests something more suitable for a spaghetti western.

Back Beat dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This ancient tune is little more than a fifties progression with a bit of updating. It's rhythmic and fun, but doesn't leave a lasting impression.

One Mint Julip dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Really tepid track, unsurfy, and so like the South Bay Surf Scene. I'll pass, thank you.

Bedlam dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This Paul Johnson tune is so similar to "Beat '65" that it always begs the question of which came first... This is a nice cover, not quite as smooth as the Belairs, but very well done.

Chiflado dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a classic track from the last days of Paul Johnson in the Belairs, which he carried over to P. J. & the Galaxies (post Thom Starr). After Paul left the Belairs, they became the Bel-Aires under the leadership of guitarist Steve Lotto, and because of that, this song is often thought to be called "Chief Lotto." "Chiflado" means "some kind of a nut" - not a cashew, a humorous crazy person (Paul Johnson's definition, not mine). This is a nice version of this tune. The piano and sax are very cool, and the sound of the master makes me wonder if it isn't really a Belairs master. The sax especially is so Chas Stewart, and the guitar has Paul's tone and style. After all, Richard Delvy was a Belair, and he did use other Belairs masters on Challengers albums (by arrangement with Paul, who often was a studio guitarist on Challenger sessions).

Just Drums dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is drum solo exercise. It sounds like Delvy's drumming, and not like Hal Blaine's. If you're into drums, it's cool. If not, just skip ahead.

Hot Rod Show dotdotdot
Hot Rod (Vocal)

This was the single B-side to "K-39," and is among the only Challengers vocals I can stand. Maybe it's the nostalgia of hearing it again after all those years...