Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Challengers - The Best Ofdotdotdot
artworkThis collection of the Challengers more familiar tracks was an essential release when it hit the streets in the eighties.
Picks: K-39, Telstar, Mr. Rebel, Mark Of Zorro, Foot Tapper, Kami-Kaze, Wipe Out, Channel 9, Out Of Limits, Apache, Tidal Wave, Back Beat, Bulldog, Pipeline

Track by Track Review


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.

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.

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.

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.

Foot Tapper dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a fine West Coast variation on the Hank Marvin / Bruce Welch (Shadows) composition. This version is very clean and full bodied. It is lively, and fun. The male chorus of "ahhhh" makes it a bit too commercial for my tastes, but I have always liked it. It's no "K-39," but then what is? melodic mid tempo fun.

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.

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.

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.

Out Of Limits dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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

Apache dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It's funny to hear the Challengers do this in essentially the Jorgen Ingman arrangement on an album that is not far from being a Shadows clone collection of songs. It is nowhere as good as the Ingman version, but is quite competent.

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.

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.

Bulldog dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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

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