Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA Collection: The Birth Of Surf Volume 2
|Volume two of the series has some great gems, a few common tracks, some presurf, and a few tracks that merely share the calendar period. Good liner notes, and a handful of "it's about time" excavations, The Bel-Aires - "Baggies," The Creations - "Crash," The Kan Dells - "Cloud Burst," The Pagents - "Enchanted Surf," The Intrepides - "Golash," and The Vy-Dels - "Unknown."|
Picks: The Astronauts - Hot Doggin', The Bel-Aires - Baggies, The Busters - Bust Out, The Catalinas - Banzai Washout, The Centurions - Bullwinkle Pt. II, The Chantays - Monsoon, Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Surf Beat, The Creations - Crash, Bobby Fuller and the Fanatics - Our Favorite Martian, The Kan Dells - Cloud Burst, The Lively Ones - High Tide, Jim Messina and the Jesters - The Thing, The Original Surfaris - Surfari, The Pagents - Enchanted Surf, The Intrepides - Golash, The Pyramids - Midnight Run, The Revels with Barbara Adkins - Church Key, The Rockin' Rebels - Wild Weekend, The Sandals - Theme From 'The Endless Summer', The Scarlets - Stampede, The Surfaris - Point Panic, The Trashmen - Malaguena, The Velvetones - Mr. X, The Ventures - Walk, Don't Run, The Vy-Dels - Unknown, The Wailers - Shanghaied (Shanghai'd)
Track by Track Review
The Astronauts - Hot Doggin'
This was the Astronauts' non-album single follow-up to "Baja." It's very hot, feisty, almost assaultive in its delivery. Melody and power merge for an infectious effect.
Dry Surf (Instrumental)
B-side of the only Bel-Aires single on Lucky Token Records, the label also shared by the Crossfires. Quite rhythmic with a dry sound, it's an odd melodic twist on "Surf Beat" with little in common. You'll get when you hear it. "Baggies" is a splendid song. The guitar is both intense and subtle. The twang is absolute, and the rhythm is very powerful. Like the A-side, it's a track that desperately needs to come out of the vaults from the tapes.
Pre Surf (Instrumental)
This is actually a pre surf single from 1960. Its original title is "Typhoid." It foreshadowed the double picking of Dick Dale, and the raw energy of the surf sound yet to come. Highly rhythmic and driven. Lots of power. "Bust Out " evolved from a song the Sapphires did called "Typhoid." Alan Orkins had the original idea, but we all added to it." - Don Gates Jr., drummer for the Sapphires. While basically riff rock, it has held up really well over the years.
The Catalinas - Banzai Washout
Steve Douglas wrote this classic and plays the raging sax. Dick Dale later covered it. The melody is hot, the rhythm is driving, the drums inspired, and the whole thing rocks. The brilliant ringing tones and the speed are marvelous. One of the great singles. Billy Strange played the fiery lead.
The Centurions - Bullwinkle Pt. II
This unusual track was featured prominently in the cult film Pulp Fiction, which thrust this otherwise little know band into the frontal lobes of the American conscience. The track is oddly structured, and very cool. I like the rawness of the original better, but the sense of ensemble here leaves this to be the over all fave.
Follow up single to "Pipeline," this track is unusual and infectious. It's got an excellent rhythm and just seems to grab the listener. The excellent melody line right perfect, and the piano is very tasty.
Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Surf Beat
Demonstrating the power of CHUNK in surf, "Surf Beat" lent it's name to the genre, and clearly is a standard. A great performance captured live at the Rendezvous Ballroom and issued in 1962. This is the embodiment of rhythm based surf chunk.
If you want to play the chords right, when the lead and rhythm both play together, the rhythm guitar would "push" the chord downward, while the lead must "pull" the chord upward - remember, Dick Dale played left handed and used a right handed guitar upside down without restringing. That meant when he pushed the chord, it was the same as pulling it. I verified this with Dick personally in '88, so there ya go.
This spirited surf single has been covered many times. It's as obscure as they come, but very infectious and pure surf. Very percussive guitar and thundering toms make this a must have track.
Bobby Fuller and the Fanatics - Our Favorite Martian
Bobby Fuller played some of the best surf instros on the gentler side of the track. This recording is essential to any surf collection. It begins with a slowed reverb kick, and moves right into one of the most recognizable of the more obscure instros. The structure and sound are perfectly surf, and the energy and style are exquisite. This is the full track, without being faded for the single, including the post performance tape echo swell.
The Kan Dells - Cloud Burst
This is a masterful single, using lots of changes in the arrangement to keep its simple and very surf oriented riff on top. Behind the bridge plucking, great reverb, catchy string bending, and active drums give "Cloud Burst" a real stormy feeling. Excellent! Originally issued on Boss 6501
The Lively Ones - High Tide
This is one of the most infectious and fiery surf instros anywhere. It flies through a staccato lead line, and a softer break. Very powerful. "High Tide" is one of my favorite classic surf tracks.
Jim Messina and the Jesters - The Thing
Tom tom tribal, damped reverb chunk, and a jam lead guitar. This is like a B section of an AABA song, extended to be the whole thing. Powerful, but lacking in focus. The drum solo is very strong.
The Original Surfaris - Surfari
The Original Surfaris' "Surfari" is a really cool high energy number that has been only narrowly circulated and covered even more rarely. It has a bunch of energy, great low-E double picked leads and a solid helping of hooks. Great track
The Pagents - Enchanted Surf
The Pagents deliver a softer surf tune, a riff based mid tempo tune with ringing slightly vibratoed chords beneath carried on electric piano. It's a nice tune, moody and pretty, not particularly memorable. The liners say this might have been a San Luis Obispo area band, but there's nothing to base that on provided.
Fullerton's Intrepides were quite obscure. This track is a splendid example of the power of simple riffs and reverb. It's infectious, rhythmic, and way fun. It's loaded with drama and danger, as well as surf majesty. The Surf Raiders covered this in the early eighties.
The Pyramids - Midnight Run
This version of the Gary Usher / Super Stocks / Richie Podolor tune is simply the best version out there. Rhythmic and delightfully muted. Superb!
The Revels with Barbara Adkins - Church Key
The Revels had been playing for quite a while before laying down the classic slang-for-can-opener titled "Church Key" with producer Norman Knowles' girl friend Barbara Atkins giggling away. Danny Darnold is the lead player here, and Norman does duty on the sax. If you're impressed with their edgy energy.
The Rockin' Rebels - Wild Weekend
This is the one. This is the song everyone thinks of with this band. It was cut originally as a theme for the Tom Shannon Show on Buffalo, New York's legendary WBKW, from whence came free form progenitors Tom Donahue, Bob Mitchell, and Peter Trip. This is growly, dark, evil, chunky, melodic, and features near-surf rhythm guitar behind a raw R&B sax. A great and necessary track.
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.
Here it is, boys and girls. The original thrash out that's been covered by so many of the modern rockabilly / psychobilly bands. It's echoed, reverbed, piano tinkled, and a bit too muddy, but it certainly carries the energy, and it's easy to hear why so many have covered it. High energy, infectious progressions, cool pomp-n-stomp' tribal drums, raw sax, and throbbing bass. It's all here.
The Surfaris - Point Panic
A-side of the follow up single to "Wipe Out." Great intro scream and tom toms. The fire in the bones of the band is clear here. High spirited, chunky, and rhythmic. Grand power glissandos, and those wonderful Ron Wilson drums. Jim Pash's sax is most appropriate. Not often covered, but a really good tune.
Flamenco Surf (Instrumental)
Ernesto Lacuona's great song, first turned into a surf classic by this Minneapolis band. It's a fiery infectious must-have track. Major energy and finesse. There is no finer flamenco surf than this. Infectious, rhythmic, powerful.
The Velvetones' "Mr. X." was the A-side of their 3rd and final single issued in May of '65. It's a cool subtle palm-damped reverb-laden track heavy on the tom toms, like a cross between The Polaras' "Cricket" and The Lively Ones' "Paradise Cove."
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 presurf 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.
"Unknown" has been covered many times. The Mermen still include it in their live shows, as captured on their Haunted House CD, and Splashback do a killer rendition when they play live as well. This is one crunchy track, splashy and intense right from the initial reverb kick and glissando. Don Bradley's melody line is exceptionally good. It was the A-side of "What I'm Gonna Do" (Garnet 101).
The Wailers - Shanghaied (Shanghai'd)
Pre Surf (Instrumental)
Bobby Fuller & the Fanatics used to do "Shanghaied" and is has all the elements necessary for inclusion in a surf set, with just a little imagination. It's raw and garagy, and primal. The melody is playful, while the tone is ominous. Fake stereo delay detracts significantly from the original raw power of this track.