Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Attack of the New Killer Surf Guitarsdotdotdotdot
artworkAn incredible collection of talented and leading edge bands. Right up there with Surfin' The Spillway for hit-body count, and I was privileged to write the liner notes. This compilation was put together over long period, and has no weak tracks at all. The art work is downright scary. Many of the tracks are at the edges, and some are outside the surf realm, but nearly all seem to have that surf relevant aura. Unlike Instrumental Fire, which was half lo-fi mung and half easily gotten tracks from common acts and a third half (ha) of completely unrelated nonsense, this comp contains a truly solid and diverse cross section in instro bands. Beloved was able to pull together this comp without dipping into the bad and obnoxious. Other than getting the Mermen track added, I had nothing to do with track selection or sequencing. Bob Ardrey had worked on this project for a year, and did a good job of culling the shores for the good, the unusual, and the hip. When he asked me to do the liners, I agreed contingent on seeing a track list, and then I was mostly happy. After getting an advance crude cassette, I was satisfied. After hearing the finished product, I was proud. I am careful where I put my name, because my reputation as a critic/reviewer/programmer hangs in the balance. No risk here. Great collection.
Picks: Agent Orange - Tiki Ti, BB and the Stingers - Slow Burn, Buzzed Meg - Buzzed Meg Theme, Ray Corvair Trio - Carl Needs A Pill, The Cowslingers - 18 Wheels To Hell, Davie Allan and the Arrows with Dick Dale - Surf Trek, The Goldentones - Midnight, Hillbilly Frankenstein - Hypnoticz Part 2, Laika and the Cosmonauts - Don't Monkey With Tarzan, The Mermen - Soul Surfin', Los Straitjackets - Kawanga, Challenger, The Supertones - Torque Wrench, The Ultras - The Ultra Factor, The Vice Royals - Perpetration

Track by Track Review

Agent Orange - Tiki Ti dotdotdotdot
Skate & Surf Punk (Instrumental)

There are precious few intros on disc from this seminal and still-unique LA punk band. This is a solid melodic number, well played and a good listen.

BB and the Stingers - Slow Burn dotdotdot
Vibrato Last Dance (Instrumental)

Slow-w-w vibrato, sad and pretty. A last dance at the prom sorta number. Very pleasing.

Buzzed Meg - Buzzed Meg Theme dotdotdotdot
Sophisticated Surf (Instrumental)

Dennis Diken and Jim Babjak of the Smithereens have moved back to their roots with this number. As the Surfin' Smithereens, they included several really aggressive versions of surf instro standards in their set during their heyday of the late eighties. The first track they recorded was "Hang Ten High." Here, they've taken the experience, performance development, and talent that comes from a decade on the road, and channeled that into the creation of a really nice track. There's shimmer, vibrato, and a mid tempo gentleness. The structure of the tune is quite sophisticated, like some of the better studio sessions of the sixties (in a good way).

Ray Corvair Trio - Carl Needs A Pill dotdotdotdot
Slow Evil Surf (Instrumental)

A slow gently whammied number with a super simple melody that is quite infectious, like Link Wray or Eric Lenchner might have done. Ominous and quite nice too. It's a live cut, well recorded and mixed. The bozos at the bar who talked through the set should be permanently banned from public places. This is one great track.

The Cowslingers - 18 Wheels To Hell dotdotdotdot
Fuzzed Out Garage Assault (Instrumental)

A Chiswick period Motorhead instro assault drives a massive hole in your placidity, then bends your senses with bits of whammification, and salts the wound with some narrative nonsense just barely audible. The melody is simple, but the major intensity of the delivery means Hell comes to your house on 18 wheels, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Whew.

Davie Allan and the Arrows with Dick Dale - Surf Trek dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

When mountains collide! Davie Allan is King Fuzz. Dick Dale is King of the Surf Guitar. Put 'em together, and you get an unbelievable powerful synergy. Davie's wailing performance on lead is stellar, and Dick's powerful support work and lead break are equally delightful. A monster track.

The Goldentones - Midnight dotdotdotdot
Psychosis Surf (Instrumental)

The intensity of this tune drives you nervous. Not loud, repetitive stress syndrome for the ears. There's a certain use of the same note over and over that transcends boredom and emotes psychosis. This is it. It's void of melody, but it should be. It is definitely an altered state creator with stunning harmonics and piercing power.

Hillbilly Frankenstein - Hypnoticz Part 2 dotdotdot
Evilholic Surfazombic Horrorbilly (Instrumental)

Evilholic Surfazombic Horrorbilly. The chorus is annoying, but the size of the track overcomes. Very strong track.

Laika and the Cosmonauts - Don't Monkey With Tarzan dotdotdot
Euro (Instrumental)

Laika and the Cosmonauts took a totally non-surf, rather boring late fifties/early sixties nothing single, added surf backing and rounded lead tones, and got an end result that's quite appealing. Even the Tarzan calls that are so annoying in the original are acceptable, even fit in well here. Their sense of the absurd and humor carry off what others only muck up.

The Mermen - Soul Surfin' dotdotdotdotdot
Driving Under The Influence of Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Recorded live at Summer Surf in 1994, this powerful, melodic and quite surfy track from the Mermen really drives you down the road. It is an incredibly beautiful and energetic. It wasn't on their set list that day, but Dave Arnson of the Insect Surfers, who had been on the bill earlier, requested it. damn good thing too!

Los Straitjackets - Kawanga dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A sorta Tour de Surf. In their impeccable way, Los Straitjackets use numerous bits of surf history - the "Wipe Out" drum break, touches of "Fun Fun Fun" and more under their usual twang. When others have done this, particularly the "Wipe Out" bit, it's been less than effective, even annoying. but here, it's humorous and intriguing. Maybe it's the energy and grins they employ that makes the difference. Hillbilly surf, speedy with maximum drum action and a quirky little melody line. Great track.

Los Straitjackets - Challenger dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Unusually ominous beginning for a Los Straitjackets track, and even the melody is atypical for them. It has power and beauty that coexist, and that unmistakable LS charm.

The Supertones - Torque Wrench dotdotdot
Ventures Surf (Instrumental)

Bits of "Competition Coupe" and a Ventures-ish dryer sound. Great drums, and a solid effort in a nineties surf vein.

The Ultras - The Ultra Factor dotdotdotdot
Twisted Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

It's so good to hear Eric Lenchner back on CD. He's a national treasure to be enshrined... really. Eric's sense of twisted humor coupled with his skill as a writer and player make for remarkable tracks. Eric was doing the surf lounge thing when neither one was particularly hip. His green shark skin jacket is unbelievable. This track is brilliantly crafted, with uniquely Ultra energy, and the spoken interludes that normally would annoy are priceless. The double kick drum pummels you, and the guitar tones are pure Ricky Sludge... oh yeah, Eric was the infamous Ricky Sludge in a former life, playing with San Francisco's Readymades in the early eighties, and also played trumpet when Jack Ely and Richard Berry met and performed together for the first time at "Maximum Louie Louie."

The Vice Royals - Perpetration dotdotdot
Fuzz Spy (Instrumental)

Fuzz instro with max edge and an odd almost spy melody. Not very surfy, but pretty compelling.