Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Challengers - Where Were You In The Summer Of '62?dotdotdot
artworkThis Fantasy collection of Challengers material sports vintage and latter day tracks from one of the staples of the surf scene. Many of the tracks have not been reissued on CD. It's quite a nice set, even though many performances are subdued.
Picks: Mr. Moto, Wipe Out, Telstar, Bedlam, Mr. Rebel, Back Beat, K-39, Pipeline, Apache, Moondawg, Sloop John B., Foot Tapper

Track by Track Review


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.

Wipe Out dot
Surf (Instrumental)

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

K-39 dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (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, melodic, powerful, double picked joy!

Pipeline dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Hal Blaine's drums, and either a totally different mix or different take of the Triumph records session. This mix is fuller, sports more clarity, and has a different charm. very cool.

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.

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.

Sloop John B. dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Arranged a lot like Dick Dale and the Del-tones' version, less the violins and vocal, the Challengers make this into a fluid middle of the road surf number. It's quite nice, with a fine backtrack and guitar lead.

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.