Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Challengers - Surf Beatdotdotdot
artworkFirst album from LA classic instro band on the pop edge , playing trad instros as well as surf. Part of the original South Bay Surf Band scene, Richard Delvy (Delvecchio) was in the Belairs earlier, as was piano player Jim Roberts. "Kami-Kaze" is actually the Belairs master. Missing from this CD is the album version of "Surf Beat." Why?
Picks: Bulldog, Kami-Kaze, Let's Go Trippin', Ramrod, Mr. Moto, Red River Rock, Miserlou, Latin'ia, Surfin' Safari, Moovin' 'N' Groovin', Vampire, Torquay, Penetration, Surf Beat (Delvy's Drums)

Track by Track Review

Bulldog dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Pretty true to the intent of the Fireballs, but dryer and chunkier, with Jim Roberts' piano adding a fifth dimension.

Kami-Kaze dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is cool. The rhythmic chunka chunka of the rhythm guitar stands out, and drives the tune. The melody is a classic Belairs tune. The arrangement straddles the surf-MOR fence. Chunky, cool, but not hot.

Let's Go Trippin' dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A very different and dry rendition of the classic Dick Dale instro. The power of the Dickster isn't there. It sounds like the engineer in control goes-in-quiet-comes-out-loud syndrome is alive and well. The organ break is sorta funny with this tune, but then being laid back, I suppose it all fits. You can imagine Jimmy Smith rolling in his grave.

Ramrod dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The arrangement is quite true to the Duane Eddy original, or should I say Al Casey. As above, the spirit is less than the original, with subdued drums and guitar tones. The organ is sorta bizarre for the track, adding a studio lizard dimension. This is classic pre-surf instrumentalism.

Mr. Moto dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is very similar to the Belairs master, but in stereo, and a little less intense. Glenn Grey's string bending is unusual. Jim Roberts' piano is mostly lost in the mix. Pure South Bay surf roots. This song is thee transition piece.

Red River Rock dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Gentle is the keyword here, lacking the intensity and edge of the Johnny & the Hurricanes original, and also any semblance of surf music, except for the damped rhythm guitar, though it is dry as a bone.

Miserlou dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Very unlike Dick Dale's version of this Greek pop song. The guitar is dry, and Glen Grey's playing is nothing like Dick's. He's p[laying his heart out, but the tones, meter, and delivery are considerably less. The voices in chorus go "ahhhh" while the bridge is played. Still, it's quite a nice track.

Latin'ia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The way they arranged this is quite different from the Sentinals original, with almost unnatural whammy and edgier dry guitar. Glenn Grey's whammy is deeper than the original, giving it a twisted sorta sound. Jim Roberts piano is quite nice. There's something endearing about this track that transcends its shortcomings. The wood blocks in the "Malegueña"bridge are a trip.

Surfin' Safari dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Sax lead instro-ization of the Beach Boysclassic... pretty lame.

Moovin' 'N' Groovin' dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Nice guitar work, more grodie than Duane Eddy's original, sorta muddy. Low energy performance. Some of Glenn's guitar work is unusual for this song.

Vampire dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is reported to be a Belairs master. It is a Paul Johnson tune, and with its obvious sound and Paul Johnson style, it just may well be. The mono is another giveaway. Slow and tortured. Great!

Torquay dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

As with "Bull Dog," this deviates considerably sound wise from the Fireballs' original, but retains the intended rhythmic affect. and is accented with Jim Roberts piano work.

Penetration dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A gentle elevator backtrack plinks under a guttural lead guitar. It's interestingly different, but not particularly inspiring.

Surf Beat (Delvy's Drums)
Surf (Instrumental)

Ah yes, this is quite nice. Nothing at all like Dick Dale, but it retains some of the rhythmic nature without the chunkiness. Also added is a drum solo.