Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Challengers - Surf Beatdotdotdot
artworkThis British compilation is a solid cross section of the Challengers' more familiar tracks. At the time of its issue, the only other source for this material in print was a smaller package from Rhino. Excellent liner notes.
Picks: Out Of Limits, Wipe Out, Mr. Rebel, Telstar, Mark Of Zorro, Pipeline, Channel 9, You Can't Sit Down, Ventures' Medley, Bulldog, Kami-Kaze, Mr. Moto, Miserlou, Moondawg, Rampage, Tidal Wave, Satan's Theme, K-39

Track by Track Review


Out Of Limits dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

True to the original Mar-Kets' version, this cover has nothing special or new
going on.

Wipe Out dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

No one covers this well, and no one does Ron Wilson's drumming, and when you further get the melody wrong (or morph it into an unrecognizable and not very good form), well... it all adds up to a no way Jose thing.

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.

Pipeline dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The best cover of this tune from the sixties, except for possibly the Lively Ones and the Van Slyke. Hal Blaine's drumming is superb, and his use of the toms in place of guitar glissandoes is brilliant! Great song

Channel 9 dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Ed Fournier wrote this wholly infectious surf monster that was dubbed "Channel 9" because of it's use as a theme on LA television channel 9's series "Surf's Up!." This is a must have for any surf collection. It's alternative title is "Hop Scotch." It's highly melodic and rhythmic, much in the "K-39" / "Pipeline" style.

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.

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.

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)

Actually a Belairs master, this track is classic Paul Johnson. In the studio on many future albums, Paul would do guitar honors. This is choppy, rhythmic, and solid.

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.

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.

Moondawg 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.

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.

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.

K-39 dotdotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"K-39" is one of the best late surf tracks. It is named after a surf spot 39 kilometers south of the California-Mexico border. Hal Blaine's drumming is exquisite, and the melody is great. This is a true Surf classic.