Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Best Of Gary Usher - Volume Onedotdotdot
artworkNow, I wouldn't normally review vocals, but M&M Records from Japan is doing the Gary Usher thing right, and while there are no instrumental surf tracks on volume one, I'm hoping volume two is better. This is the only CD source for the ultra rare Dick Dale and his Del-Tones recording of "Surfin' And A-Swingin'" which appeared in the soundtrack of Beach Party and was issued as a single on Capitol. Not just rare, it is one of the few Dick Dale vocals besides "Mr. Peppermint Man" that is actually cool. It never appeared on a Dick Dale album, and is frequently missing from his discographies. Also notable is the Astronauts' "Competition Coupe." Though one of the very best hot rod songs ever, it is readily available on numerous Astronauts CDs. I only reviewed the more musically of referentially notable vocals. There are 30 cuts, ranging from Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, and Wayne Newton, to Donna Loren and the Pendletons.
Picks: Surfin' And A-Swingin', Honda Bike, Wax, Board and My Woodie, Competition Coupe, Dracula's Deuce, Super Torque 427, Custom Caravan

Track by Track Review

Surfin' And A-Swingin' dotdotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

One of the few vocals Dick recorded that features his great surf guitar drivin' hard, "Surfin' and A-Swingin'" is a powerhouse surf vocal with great energy and a killer surf guitar break. The backtrack is mostly pretty muddy, but for the guitar shreddin' break alone, it's worth seeking out. Great stuff!

Honda Bike dotdot
Motorbike (Vocal)

One of the few vocals issued under Richie Podolor's Devons moniker, "Honda Bike" is a so-so Beach Boys style pop song with nothing to set it apart. It doesn't even have a signature Podolor guitar break.

Wax, Board and My Woodie dotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

One of the more tolerable Surfaris vocals, "Wax, Board and My Woodie" is more or less a basic Gary Usher style track, except for Jim Fuller's brief guitar solo. I suspect it's his only contribution to the track.

Competition Coupe dotdotdot
Hot Rod (Vocal)

One of the best hot rod vocals anywhere, in part due to the rhythmic nature of the Astronauts' surf backtrack, and the the well produced vocals. Powerful, motion oriented, and quite credible. "Competition Coupe" remains one of my favorite period vocals, and there aren't many.

Dracula's Deuce dot
Horror (Vocal)

Just one of a million horror flick gimmick tracks with a fake Dracula voice, and this one from the Richie Podolor project band the Ghouls. If you never heard it, you'd been none the less for it.

Super Torque 427 dotdot
Horror (Vocal)

I don't know if this band is related to the "Quasimoto" / "Road Runnah" band, but the rhythm track sounds like it could be. The vocal is overbearing and less than interesting. It would be cool to find the backtrack and extract the instro.

Custom Caravan dotdotdot
Horror (Vocal)

This single-only track from the Pyramids is typically Hollywood surf-rod stylistically, but also features a cool guitar break in the Pyramids' classic style. Pretty punchy for an Usher production, though the vocals are way to upfront.