Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Challengers - Surf's Up! The Challengers On TV (Digitally Remastered)dotdotdot
artworkIt's only taken for-EVER!, but the most illusive of all of The Challengers albums is finally reissued, and in stereo, though only on mp3 so far. Sadly, it is taken from vinyl with some pops and clicks left in! Why-oh-why was it not t least properly restored?
Picks: Theme From 'Surf's Up', K-39, Mr. Moto '65, Ross At Sunset, Chiflado '65, Pipeline '65, Foot Tapper, Moon Dawg, Torquay, Theme From Delvy McNort, Kami-Kaze '65, Channel Nine

Track by Track Review


Theme From 'Surf's Up' 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. Also issued as "Mark Of Zorro" by The Banditos.

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, melodic, powerful, double picked joy!

Mr. Moto '65 dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a bit of an update to the version cut for The Challengers first album, but they used The Belairs' version instead. Less cool, but with bass added, great drums, and Phil Pruden's sax. rather refreshing in its day. Also issued as "Mr. Moto" by The Spartans

Ross At Sunset dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Thom Starr's "Ross At Sunset" remains a cool tune. This version is from the Surf's Up album. The tango rhythm track and castanets make this vibrato number unusual and fun, and the sax may be the most inspired part. The drums are good too. Also issued as "Asphalt Spinner."

Chiflado '65 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a classic track from the last days of Paul Johnson in the Belairs, which he carried over to P. J. & the Galaxies (post Thom Starr). After Paul left the Belairs, they became the Bel-Aires under the leadership of guitarist Steve Lotto, and because of that, this song is often thought to be called "Chief Lotto." "Chiflado" means "some kind of a nut" - not a cashew, a humorous crazy person (Paul Johnson's definition, not mine). This is a nice version of this tune. The piano and sax are very cool, and the sound of the master makes me wonder if it isn't really a Belairs master. The sax especially is so Chas Stewart, and the guitar has Paul's tone and style. After all, Richard Delvy was a Belair, and he did use other Belairs masters on Challengers albums (by arrangement with Paul, who often was a studio guitarist on Challenger sessions).

Pipeline '65 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 glissandos is brilliant! Great song

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.

Moon Dawg dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Derry Weaver's classic presurf 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.

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.

Theme From Delvy McNort dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This Journeymen song is groovily rung out. The catchy riff tweaks your interest, and the combo cuts it well. Lots of twang and tuff drums. Also issued by The Surfriders as "Rum Runner."

Apache '65 dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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

Kami-Kaze '65 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Despite Hal Blaine's drums, which add to the track, and the clarity of the damped dry rhythm chops, the guitar is just not as inspired as the Belairs original. It's a good track, and I like it - it's just not as hot as the original take. Jim Roberts' (?) piano is a nice touch. Also issued as The Good Guys' "Kami-Kaze."

Channel Nine dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Ed Fournier wrote this wholly infectious surf monster that was also dubbed "Channel Nine" 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. Also release as "Hop Scotch."

Wipe Out '65 dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Uninspired performance, with a weak guitar sound. While Hal Blaine's rolling drums make it different, there's no substitute for Ron Wilson's fluid performance.