Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Challengers - Lloyd Thaxton Goes Surfing With The Challengersdotdotdot
artworkSecond album from LA classic instro band. This album could be mostly characterized as the top forty album. Most of these tracks are tepid covers of the instros du jour. I think they were still trying to find a sound, because this is not like they ended up, some distance from their Belairs starting sound, and not very personal. there are a few bright spots, and of course it is a piece of essential history.
Picks: Moon Dawg, (Dance With The) Guitar Man, Comin' Home Baby, You Can't Sit Down, Foot Patter, Rampage, Ventures' Medley, Surfers Pony, Tidal Wave, Satan's Theme, So What

Track by Track Review

Moon Dawg dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Derry Weaver's classic pre-surf monster, done with great reverence. A theremin opens this track, but after that, it's a pretty straight cover of the Gamblers' classic. The added organ and subdued chorus are the essential variations, as well as the cleanliness of the track. Good performance and worth a spin.

(Dance With The) Guitar Man dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Complete with the lamo chorus, this is Duane Eddy all the way, just less energetic. Nothing special or unusual.

Comin' Home Baby dotdotdot
Surf Jazz (Instrumental)

The jazz classic, with an organ somewhere between imitation Jimmy Smith and church at K-mart. Technically correct, but not much soul. Laid back, good in the background, but it doesn't command attention, except for the really cool piano break. Jim Roberts' piano work always was pretty good, and Glenn Grey's guitar is fine too... It has none of the creativity of the Surfaris' surfization of this jazz standard.

You Can't Sit Down dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Pretty standard rendition of Dovells's hit. No where near as interesting as theirs, and that wasn't all that interesting to begin with. Pass.

Foot Patter dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the sound of the early Challengersin my mind. It's pretty well defined, the keys are cool, the guitar is precise, and it has a semi-Belairssound. The tune is a George Tomsco creation from the Fireballs. Midtempo coolness, rhythmic and most enjoyable. It's well played, with nice piano work, and ok organ. Clean, but not infectious.

Rampage dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A Glenn Grey original, with stinging guitar notes, and a ton of echoplex. Energetic, throbbing, totally fun. This is the highlight of the original album. Glenn didn't write very many tracks for them, but the few he did write were quite good. His playing prowess seems mostly to show on his own compositions.

Ventures' Medley dotdotdot
Ventures (Instrumental)

If you're a Ventures fan (and I'm not), you'll find this appealing. It is a medley of "Walk, Don't Run," "Lullaby Of The Leaves," and "Perfidia." pedestrian arrangement.

Surfers Pony dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A basic rhythmic dance number. No melody, just a couple of trite hooks.

Tidal Wave dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

An Eddie Bertrand tune from his days with the Belairs. It has energy, and some edge. It is quite like the Belairs would do it. Mostly a simple progression with tinkly piano and stinging guitar solos. Cool.

Satan's Theme dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Unremarkable progression, a bit of double picking, some edgie guitar, and not much else.

So What dotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

An R&B instro thing, with organ lead. Not very interesting.