Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Battle Of The Surf Guitars Vol 1dotdotdot
artworkThis is volume 1 of two of an extremely rare release issued sometime in the seventies in Belgium. It's not very far from volume 1 of Surf Guitars Rumble, the Surf Records bootleg. Perhaps it's actually from the same sources.
Picks: Johnny Barakat and the Vestells - The Long Ride, Dave and the Customs - Ali Baba, The Hustlers - Inertia, The Pyramids - Pressure, Contact, Pyramid Stomp, The Rhythm Boys - Chinese Surf, The Ricco-Shays - Damascus, The Space Walkers - Tecumseh, The Starfires - Re-Entry, The Stringmen - Pow-Wow, The Super Stocks - Midnight Run, The Velmas - Surfin' Bells, Vince and the Waikiki Rumblers - Waikiki Rumble, Keith Zeller and the Starliners - Yellow Bird

Track by Track Review


The Long Ride dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Johnny Barakat was a kid who'd been shot in a holdup of his folks store, and left restricted to a wheel chair. Out of sheer boredom, he learned to play the guitar... and did he ever. His buddies the Vestells backed him on this incredible vintage surf monster. This is the second best track on the CD, and it appears nowhere else. It may be from vinyl, but it's totally killer. His whole catalog of recordings is on AVI's Rare Surf Volume 3.

Ali Baba dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dave and the Customs recorded what must be the other "Miserlou." This is a totally tubular track that just plain moves. The relentless rolling drums, the low-E double-picked melody, the crescendo break... it made me twitch in my britches the first time I heard it. This is definitely the highlight of this CD. Oh, what I wouldn't do for the studio tapes on this one! Who were these guys, anyway? The other side of this single was a vocal version of "Shortnin' Bread." Their other single was "Mizerlou" c/w "Bony Morony."

Breakin' Up dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of those frustrating moments when a band that totally had the instruments and the sound, goes off and records something that isn't even remotely surf, and doesn't lend itself to being surfed up... interesting, but they must have recorded something really cool I've never heard. It's an R&B Vegas trash thing, but with surf sensibilities. Odd, and the absurd laughs make is even less credible.

Inertia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a cool track, both ominous and inviting. It has a unique rhythm, a simplicity that draws you in, and a magical sound. It has a delicacy about it, lurking under a quiet power. Like a swell, it rolls in poetically while hiding immense power just under the surface. The mid-fast tempo, and the tinkly piano break are too cool. Very nice.

Pressure dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Pressure" was one of the Pyramids follow-up singles to "Penetration," and did not appear on their album. Totally infectious, a collector's must have, and a surf fan's delight.

Contact dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the b-side of "Pressure," and was not on their album. As with the flip side, it is a very cool rhythmic and infectious track.

Pyramid Stomp dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The obligatory self-named theme... most bands had one then... "Dick Dale Stomp," "Surfaris Stomp," etc. A much more rough and tumble track than "Penetration." Cool!

Chinese Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Heavy low-E vibrato, surf intentions, and spiffy double picking in a fifties framework yield a hybrid track of surf worthy note. Very cool. No idea who these boys were.

Damascus dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Crunchy rhythm guitar, EchoPlexed lead, and a semi Middle Eastern melody. Not very exotic, not surfy, and not very infectious, though it could really be surfed up by a solid band like the Space Cossacks. I can hear the chunk now!

Ain't No Big Thing dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A fifties progression and thin guitar noodling and a bit of surf lurking in the corners.

Tecumseh dotdotdot
Indian Surf (Instrumental)

A thin lead guitar tone, no reverb, and a lot of sax are the telltale signs of a fifties rock instro. It sports a few of the Indian isms you'd expect from a track named after such an Indian luminary. His name is uttered occasionally in a dramatic fashion.

Sandstorm dotdotdot
Fifties Rock (Instrumental)

This is not a cover of Johnny & the Hurricanes' great instro. It is a melody-free grinding fifties B-side kinda thing, intense, Link Wray influenced, and energetic.

Somethin' Else dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A very un-surfy track, without the redeeming Pacific Northwest sound or the deep feelings of the Minneapolis pre surf era. Just a fifties instro, though the cow bell is totally cool.

Re-Entry dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A very un-surfy song style, more R&B, but a very reverbed guitar. This song is energetic, fun, and utterly contagious.

Teen Theme dotdotdot
Fifties Rock (Instrumental)

Jeepers, vibes and a thin guitar. Interesting, if only for it's unusual use of the vibes. Otherwise, it's a shallow track, though much more melodic than most fifties instros.

Pow-Wow dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This fifties boogie has appeared on several fifties comps to date. It's mostly a riff and a rhythm, with a cool chunky break. It could be surfed up easily enough. It reminds me of a Johnny Fortune clone attempt, but from a prior decade. Cool

Midnight Run dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is THEE defining Super Stocks track. It is melodic, dramatic, emotional, powerful, dynamic, and highly melodic. It was written by Gary Usher, Richard Burns, and Roger Christian. It has one of the most infectious sounds of any of the more layered less assaultive surf instros. Totally great.

Surfin' Bells dotdotdot
Christmas Surf (Instrumental)

This is a surf instro version of "Sleigh Ride." Very cool, in that trashy period commercial sort of way. Most cool.

Waikiki Rumble dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very interesting surf tune. Many of the vintage surf bands used pianos, not Farfisas like so many of the new bands. The piano was a rhythmic melody instrument... listen to The Chantays' "Pipeline" or Dick Dale & his Del-tones' "Miserlou." This band clearly had the surf sound down, as is evident in the backing to this piano lead tune. Most unusual and cool. It is not the same tune as Jon & the Nightriders (natch - that was written in the eighties). Vince and the Waikiki Rumblers was fronted by Vince Mutulo from San Jose, who also was involved in the recording of Paul Revere and the Raiders' infectious "Like Long Hair."

Yellow Bird dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Yup, it's Arthur Lyman's composition that was such a hit for Lawrence Welk, but that's where the similarities end. It's vibrato lead guitar is very surfy, though the backtrack is a standard fifties thing. Pretty cool.