Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Chessmen - The Chessmen Collection 1964-1966dotdotdotdot
artworkVancouver's Chessmen were a fundamental part of the developing Canadian rock scene. Their most famous expatriate as Terry Jacks, who's pop-psych ballads warmed the airwaves in the late sixties. Their first single was a double sided instrumental that, while not exactly surf, was much surfier than most Canadian instrumentals of the period except perhaps for The Squires, Neil Young's fist band. For the first time, this CD presents the entire recordings of The Chessmen in carefully restored form. The two magnificent instrumentals aside, the CD has great liner notes and all the singles, and the unreleased tracks from the single sessions. A wonderful look into the history of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Picks: Meadowlands, Mustang, You Lost Your Game

Track by Track Review


Meadowlands dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Chessmen arranged "Meadowlands" in a somewhat European way, yet it has a distinctly American presurf sound. It's an all-guitar way of playing it. There's a slight nod to the Shadows, but mostly the style is upbeat and bright with ringing guitar tone. This is likely the most common rock cover of this classic European melody. The lead is almost surfy, and the beat very cool. Excellent guitar playing and an infectious rhythm. This is one of those little singles that's a pleasure to listen to over and over. Great drums and an excellent performance.

Mustang dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Mustang" is a cool instro with an unusual galloping rhythm. The melody is sort of western and sort of Shadows-like. It's also on the edge of surf. This is a great b-side to a great single!

You Lost Your Game dotdotdot
Garage (Instrumental)

Organ and guitar drive "You Lost Your Game" along its pop path. It's much less poppy than it ends up being with vocals overdubbed. I always appreciate backing tracks being included on vault purge releases because they sometimes show just how solid the band is without the vocalist. "You Lost Your Game" is a nicely arranged track, and it stands up well without the vocals.