Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Cruncher - Surf Guitardotdotdot
artworkA labor of love, covers of classics and obscuros, tastefully played and traditionally arranged. A very nice CD, very listenable and fun.
Picks: Contact, The Hearse, Ventura, Batman, Midnight Run, Lonely Boy, Surf Beat, Oceanside, The Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift [Little Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift], The Case [The Chase], Deep Surf, The Curl Rider, Moon Dawg, SurferÕs Hop, Torquay, Latin'ia, Up, Up and Away, Malaguena, Lonely Surf Guitar, Samoa, Balboa Island, ShootinÕ The Pier

Track by Track Review


Contact dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Cruncher is an ongoing studio project of Herbert Hooke (NPR Records). He plays all guitars, bass, and organ as required, accompanied by Berthold Walter on drums, and Katja Hardewig on electric piano on some tracks. The love of the trad surf sound is clear in these tracks. Some of these covers are arranged exactly as the originals, while others are interpreted to be even more trad than the source recordings, if that's possible. If you want really well played traditional surf covers, some pretty obscure, delivered reverently, then this is right up your alley. Very pleasant listening. Quite true to the original Pyramids single, this version has perfect vibrato and tone, except for the drums, which sound like a drum machine. They are not, of course - it's just an unfortunate recording/mixing effect.

The Hearse dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Lee Hazelwood's classic made familiar by the Astronauts. The arrangement is the Al Casey sound, but more pristine. The tone rings out, and the effect is perfect vintage surf.

Ventura dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Super Stocks recorded this Gary Usher tune, much as it sounds here. While the tone on the lead is more reverbed (Richie Podolor plugged into the board and used room reverb), this is so close to the overall sound of those sessions, it's frightening.

Batman dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the Lee Hazelwood tune, not the Neil Hefty TV theme. It was on the Astronauts' first album. This is pure exacting RCA Hollywood surf sound. The melody is playful, almost childlike.

Midnight Run dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Again from the Super Stocks songbook (also covered by the Pyramids), this is among the most infectious instro Gary Usher ever wrote (co-written with Richard Burns and Roger Christian). The melody is great, and the rhythm is utterly viral. This arrangement is lock-stock-and-barrel the Super Stocks.

Lonely Boy dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Made famous by Herb Alpert and his mariachi-based Tijuana Brass, this is a pure surf instro version with long flowing notes, slower than the TJB, faster than the Dream Syndicate. Is this the original title?

Surf Beat dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

If the Super Stocks had done Dick Dale's classic instro, they'd have done it like this. Super chunky, with added glissandoes at the beginnings of the lines in the same places that Jack Marshall used pick slides in his Guitar Ramblers recording. The glissandoes add quite an infectious hook to an otherwise very simple rhythm oriented tune. Mighty original thinking.

Oceanside dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another Super Stocks tune, written by Gary Usher and Richard Burns. This is very close to the Capitol sessions in every detail. Catchy and playful.

The Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift [Little Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift] dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This has gone under several titles. It's among the few Dean Torrence / Jan Berry (Jan & Dean) original instros (along with B-Gas Rickshaw). Highly infectious tune. This is very trad, and infectious. Not quite as fine as the halibuts cover, but very solid.

The Case [The Chase] dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Precise and clean, this cover of the Bobby Fuller single is less gutsy and chunky, but more ringing. Bobby's tracks were more damped and thick, while this has a thinner and clearer tone. Otherwise, it is an exact repro.

Deep Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A slow and vibrato centered track. This tune is shimmering and calm, throbbing in a trance inducing way. Not very melodic, but quite pleasant. Jim Economides wrote this. He was the producer of the Capitol Dick Dale sessions.

The Curl Rider dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A good cover of the Surf Raiders most familiar original. The infectious writing and use of rhythm guitar makes this shine, like Downhill Run from Shoutless, this rolls mercilessly along. The tone here is less chunky than the Surf raiders, but the intent and infectiousness is right up there. Great track.

Moon Dawg dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Derry Weaver's classic pre-surf composition made famous by the studio band the Gamblers. This is a very surfy arrangement, pristine and ringing, rather than intensely energetic like the original or Paul Revere's, or super damped like the Surfaris. Infectious and rhythmic.

SurferÕs Hop dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Richie Podolor's slight variation on "Rumble" wasn't interesting when he did it, and it's not interesting here. Sorry, but it's entirely too derivative and uninspired.

Torquay dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It's hard to mess up with a Fireballs track. This is perfect fodder for the Cruncher mill, damped, rhythm oriented, and catchy. A fine job.

Latin'ia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tommy Nuñes and Anthony Hilder wrote this incredibly gorgeous tune, based on Slave Girl and Malegueña, and Tommy recorded it with his band the Sentinals. This arrangement is much like the Jon & the Nightriders arrangement (which came after this). Much more rhythm dependent than the Sentinals, and very interesting. The power of the arrangement carries this off well. Great listening.

Up, Up and Away dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A Ventures tune gone reverby. It doesn't stick in the memory too well, but it's way better than the original.

Malaguena dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It's the Trashmen arrangement, dechunked and more pristine. Like a cross between the Half Tribe and the Minneapolis boys, this rings true.

Lonely Surf Guitar dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This was the B-side of the Safaris lone single on Valiant. It retains the shimmer of the vibrato lead, as well as the pace. A near perfect replica.

Samoa dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

I'm a sucker for Richie Podolor tunes. This is a very surfy repro of the the Beachcombers (Podolor studio band) single. It is more spring laden, and very infectious due to the damped lead. Like the Super Stocks would have done it. Fine track.

Balboa Island dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another Super Stocks track, written by Gary Usher. This is a funny melody, sounding like it belongs on a football field. Nice, but not remarkable.

ShootinÕ The Pier dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Country barn dance surf. Vibrato aplenty, but not particularly interesting.