Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Champs - Wing Ding!dotdotdotdot
artworkThis is a solid collection of the Champs material from the Challenge label. They were under the leadership of sax man Chuck Rio. This CD is comprised mostly of previously unreleased material. A few of their tracks fit into the surf idiom well, or were often included in surf band sets. Those are the only tracks reviewed here.
Picks: Istanbul, Stampede, Lowdown, Cherokee Stomp, Rockin' Crickets, Hot Line, Wildwood Flower, 20,000 Leagues, Jumping Bean, The Man From Durango

Track by Track Review


Istanbul dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" is one of those songs you love to hate. It is fun, silly, and has been done by rock bands for a long time, from the early sixties onward. This version features vibrato guitar, a moderate pace, wailin' sax, and swashy cymbals. A great joy to hear. (previously unissued)

Stampede dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a minimalist's instro, with a simple guitar line repeated over a simple backtrack, with a wailing sax break. Pretty cool number. (previously unissued)

Lowdown dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Your basic guitar riff with slapped and choked notes, and a wailing sax. It's cool R&B flavored rock. (previously unissued)

Cherokee Stomp dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A slow semi-country tune with accented string stretching through out. A walking bass line and a funky guitar sound. (previously unissued)

Rockin' Crickets dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

That fifties cricket sound from behind the bridge runs under the entire song, which is mid tempo, sax based, melodic, and very cool. (previously unissued)

Hot Line dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This mid tempo tune features surf guitar rhythm, a slow long note surf lead line, and an infectious sound. The break is intense and builds to a crescendo that collapses right back to the melody line. Very cool. (previously unissued)

Wildwood Flower dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This song was originally from Chet Atkins or someone. It was a standard part of Dave Myers' set. Here, the guitar lead is really low-E and is shared with the sax. Grodie and unusual. (previously unissued)

20,000 Leagues dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Challenge single 59049 featured this low down surf sound with the sad and ominous sax wailing in the background. The guitar shines with vibrato. A simple and pleasurable song.

Jumping Bean dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

This guitar number uses a very simple progression for the melody, an infectious backtrack, and grodie sounds. The guitar is in a very low-E range and the whole thing seems to work well.

The Man From Durango dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This was one of my favorite Champs tracks as a kid. I think it was the B-side of "Too Much Tequila" or "Like Tequila." IN any event, it is a simple track, a double picked melody in places, and everywhere, a spaghetti western quality. Even the male chorus adds to the movie eeriness of it. A solid track!