Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
|This is a really nice collection of instrumental rock, with a sizable portion of surf instros throughout. One serious gripe I have is the use of Rhino to put it together for Starbucks, and the reason for that is their ongoing use of less-than-best quality sources from their own archives. Some serious classics in mono are muddy sounding in contrast to restorations done by Sundazed of the same tracks (for instance). Otherwise, every chance to get surf in front of the great unwashed is very welcome.|
Picks: The Aqua Velvets - Guitar Noir, The Astronauts - Baja, The Belairs - Mr. Moto, The Blue Hawaiians - Martini Five-0, The Chantays - Pipeline, Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Miserlou, Duane Eddy - Rebel-Rouser, Jorgen Ingmann - Apache, Laika and the Cosmonauts - N.Y. '79, The Lively Ones - Surf Rider, The Marketts - Out Of Limits, The Mermen - Unto The Resplendent, Jack Nitzsche - The Lonely Surfer, Pollo Del Mar - A Flash Of Green, The Sandals - Theme From 'The Endless Summer', The Vanduras - La Planche, The Ventures - Walk, Don't Run
Track by Track Review
The Aqua Velvets - Guitar Noir
Shimmering vibrato guitar spread across the panorama as images of a moody island emerge. The flowing melody line is painted on a gentle breeze. A very nice track.
"Baja" displays power of their trademark three guitar line up, and shows what a few weeks at RCA Hollywood could do. Actually, having said that, I'd really like to remix this. The lead guitar is too loud in the mix. Anyway, if there's a list of the ten most significant surf singles, this must be on it. Hazelwood had a knack for melody, and the Astronauts had a knack for the sound, and together, look out!
This is it, their claim to fame, their most familiar song, and the first surf release from May 1961 on Arvee Records. "Mr. Moto" is just about the most influential surf instro ever. "Mr. Moto" came to be a surf classic, and was recorded and released months before Dick Dale's "Let's Go Trippin'," before he opened the Rendezvous Ballroom, and before it was called surf. If you must draw a line in the sand, it must be drawn here. "Mr. Moto" was recorded at Liberty.
Covered by countless others, this song features 15 year olds Paul Johnson and Eddie Bertrand trading guitar parts in their trademark style on a prototypical PJ writing masterpiece. Jim Roberts' piano work is stunningly perfect for this song. A historical absolutely must have!
The Blue Hawaiians - Martini Five-0
Tiki Bar Surf (Instrumental)
Not since the mermen slowed this down to this pace has it been so well played out. Smooth, Polynesian tiki bar fluid, and the distant lap steel adds a whole dimension of island mystery, while the organ brings home the martini. Fine cover.
This is it. This track defined surf. It is the archetype! Paul Johnson once told me that when first heard this tune on his car radio, he said Whoa! Wha-at is THAT?, and pulled over to the side of the road to listen. The Chantays defined the classic surf line up, 2 guitars, piano, bass, and drums. Glorious first use of glissandoes, first rhythm guitar dominance in the mix, and just plain essential.
Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Miserlou
The introductory note of Miserlou is somehow bigger than life. Dick's machine gun staccato is perfect. This is Dick Dale's biggest Del-tone singles, the incredibly archetypal "Miserlou" featured so prominently in Pulp Fiction. No comprehensive Surf collection should even be conceived without this song. This IS the sound of primal surf, the source of the idea of really LOUD guitar leads. It's reported that the arrangement was developed after Dick saw Johnny Barakat do it this way.
Duane Eddy - Rebel-Rouser
"Rebel-Rouser" set the formula for Duane Eddy's enduring success. It is a rousing instro with whoops and hollers, and a richly infectious sound. The melody is strong, and the guitar is dead center.
Pre Surf (Instrumental)
Around the world, it was Hank Marvin and the Shadows that hit with Jerry Lordan's tune in 1960. Everywhere except Denmark and the US, where Jorgen Ingmann ruled the charts with this exceptional track. It's my personal opinion that this is the quintessential version of "Apache." When will Atco reissue the album? Every surf band on earth played this tune in the early days of reverb.
Laika and the Cosmonauts - N.Y. '79
Rock Lite (Instrumental)
Warbly whammy and churning organ swirl this eastern European melody into a melange of slightly sad sounds. There's a bit of optimism too, but "NY 79" seems mostly to be a sigh over spilt milk.
The Lively Ones - Surf Rider
This is what happens when a real surfband covers a Nokie Edwards (Ventures) tune that had no relation to surf as written. In fact, it started life as a Potato concept song called "Spudnik." This is the grand and beautiful song that runs under the ending credits of Pulp Fiction. This is the full length version, not the single edit.
The Marketts - Out Of Limits
This is the hit. It sports the great guitar work of Tommy Tedesco. It's infectious little riff was heard everywhere in the hey day of surf. It's quite a rock standard. This track blends surf with Joe Saraceno's orchestral thinking, guitars, French horns, and bells. Unlike almost all of the Marketts' tracks, this features the lead guitar as the lead instrument, and approximates real surf music. It is a studio session, with Tommy Tedesco on lead, but it rips right nicely. A classic surf hit.
The Mermen - Unto The Resplendent
A military beat lies beneath a nearly Scottish opening before moving into a sweet and melodic vibrato lead. Slow and sultry, beautifully phrased, and islandic in its imagery. Palms gently swaying in a warm fall breeze an hour or so before sunset... all you need is a masseuse to make it perfect.
Jack Nitzsche - The Lonely Surfer
MOR Surf (Instrumental)
"The Lonely Surfer" is an enigma, hardly legit surf band fare, yet definitely a genre classic. It only charted at 39 on Billboard, but it is among the more recognizable and sophisticated surf standards. It's haunting moody and dramatic. The French horns are surreal, giving it a major pompous feel that somehow transcends the dismissibility of other similar works, like the "Surfers Stomp" Marketts sessions. Amazing.
Pollo Del Mar - A Flash Of Green
Those PDM chords and the lure of the curl are abundant in "A Flash Of Green," which has a delicate whammy sound and coastal adventure feel. There is more than surf here, with writing and arranging that are brilliant. A magnificent song.
The Sandals - Theme From 'The Endless Summer'
Classic Film Score Surf (Instrumental)
"Theme From The Endless Summer" is a world renowned tune. It incorporates nontraditional instruments and has been an influence to many others. The use of melodica is particularly interesting.
The Vanduras - La Planche
Island Tiki (Instrumental)
A little strangeness opens "La Planche," before it romps into a delicate and gorgeous coastal number. Rich guitar tone, a flowing melody line, and a light rhythm section, all merging into a splendid afternoon drive along PCH.
The Ventures - Walk, Don't Run
Pre Surf (Instrumental)
This is essential. The Ventures were one of the two bands that served as the model for early surf bands, the other being the Fireballs. This was their first single, and is an absolute standard. It was based on the early fifties Chet Atkins arrangement. This is their signature tune, a solid and enduring cover of Johnny Smith's jazz classic. Rhythmic, solid as a rock, and very warm with pre-surf whammy. Only the Pink Fairies' vocal version is better than this. Great classic pre surf.
"Walk, Don't Run" and "Perfidia" were recorded a year before there was such a thing as surf music. Totally vintage and majorly important to the birth of surf, this Ventures single is still their hallmark and best effort. Every collection requires this track.