Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Blast From The Past: Volume Twodotdotdot
artworkThis is pure small label magic, typically from small town America in the late fifties and early sixties - well almost. The mainstream was being taken over by the Brill Building, but the real deal still thrived in the real America. Some surf here, and a lot of cool stuff that's not surf. I must say this is one of the better comps in this vein I've heard in quite a while.
Picks: Andy and the Live Wires - Maggie, The Catalinas - Banzai Washout, The Dawnbeats - Drifting, The Defiant Ones - Choice Tidbits, The Devons - Free Fall, The Dick DeWayne Combo - Witchcraft, The Duvals - The Last Surf, Ferny Roast, Ray Ethier - Slave Girl, The Fascinators - Revived, You're The Blame, Jimmie Ganzberg and the Crowns - Rebel Yell, Roland James - Patriotic Guitar, Guitarville, The Rangers - Four On The Floor, (Ghost) Riders In The Sky, Ricki Starr and his All-Stars - Shooting Star, The Riptides - Machine Gun, The Shutdowns - Four In The Floor, Straightaway, Eddie Smith with the Hornets - Upturn, Border Beat, Teddy and the Rough Riders - Tomahawk, Thunder Head

Track by Track Review

Andy and the Live Wires - Maggie dotdotdot
Rockabilly (Instrumental)

Vibrato throb guitar leads this mid sixties cover of "Cotton Fields." It's inspired and fun, and even a little chunky with the dry chop guitar stuff in the middle. Lots of fun here, boys and girls.

The Atmospheres - The Fickle Chicken dotdotdot
Rockabilly (Instrumental)

Chicken boppin' rockabilly hoppin' fun... like you'd expect at the barn dance in old Nashville. way fun, but pretty derivative. "Fickle Chicken" apes clucking via the guitar, something that Link Wray have have pioneered. It's a pretty fun rockabilly instro in the classic chicken bop style. Originally issued as the b-side to "Kabalo" on LIN 5023-45 (Gainesville, Texas) in 1959.

The Catalinas - Banzai Washout dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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 Catalinas - Beach Walkin' dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Beach Walkin'" is a sax lead tune very much influenced by "Balboa Blue." It's neither memorable nor creative.

The Dawnbeats - Midnight Express dotdotdot
Rockabilly (Instrumental)

This is a typical B-side raver, a progression intent of rhythm, but without a melody. The sax is nasty and cool. It's all about small town rawkin' energy and edge!

The Dawnbeats - Drifting dotdotdot
Rock Instrumental (Instrumental)

"Drifting" is a slow sax number with cool muted guitar rhythm and a walking bass. The guitar lines when it takes the lead are very nice. Saucy and groovy without being sleazy.

The Defiant Ones - Choice Tidbits dotdotdot
Rock Instrumental (Instrumental)

"Choice Tidbits" is just what you might expect a collection of traditional melodies strung together over a cool country rhythm. Pure vintage fun.

The Defiant Ones - Deep Six dotdot
Fifties Instro Rock (Instrumental)

This track features an organ under a fifties style progression and a really thin lead guitar, such as it is. It's ok - just ok.

The Devons - Free Fall dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Devons were another studio persona of Richie Podolor. This is a classic track, better than the demo version which appeared on the Super Stocks CD. Melodic, sad, and very well written. I just love Podolor's guitar tone, generally obtained by plugging directly into the board instead of using an amp. and sending through an acoustic chamber. Richard Podolor wrote it, but is not on the session. Jerry LeMire - lead guitar, Bill Cooper - rhythm guitar, Dick Burns - bass, Chuck Girard - keys, Wayne Edwards - drums.

The Dick DeWayne Combo - Unknown Riders dotdot
Rock Instrumental (Instrumental)

Twangy near cowboy guitar, basic drums with a bit of fire, all amid a mid tempo rhythm section. Raw sax, simple riffs, and occasionally intense tone.

The Dick DeWayne Combo - Witchcraft dotdotdot
Presurf (Instrumental)

"Witchcraft" is raw, intense, features raspy sax, a cool guitar riff, pumping bass, and great early rock drums. There's a ton of energy here, as well as hints of the surf yet to come.

The Duvals - The Last Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a tasteful surf instro with shimmering whammy guitar and an easy gate. While not essential, "The Last Surf" is a very nice track. A fine simple piano break fills out the soundscape.

The Duvals - Ferny Roast dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

There's a basic stilted progression and military precision drums, and an excellent structure more like 1962 than '64 as surf records go. A tasty sax break and plinking piano are here to. In some ways, the drums make this really work.

Ray Ethier - President's Walk
Rock Instrumental (Instrumental)

A country rock beat and bass line runs quite rightly under a twangy low-e lead progression. While more jammy than surf, "President's Walk" certainly hints at what came at the dawn. It's easy to imagine Paul Johnson rockin' to this as he eyed a guitar. His writing is much better, but the energy and influences are right.

Ray Ethier - Slave Girl dotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

Traditional rockabilly instrumental treatment of a classic melody, often accompanied by childhood lyrics ("there's a place in France..."). The combination of the rockabilly licks and the melody line is priceless. The rich low-E twango verses are pretty surf like in sound. "Slave Girl" was cut in 1960 in New York with Mercury session players. It's not the Santo and Johnny track.

The Fascinators - Revived dotdotdot
Rock Instrumental (Instrumental)

"Revived" wants to be Johnny and the Hurricanes really badly, and it sure could be an outtake. The producer also managed Johnny and the Hurricanes, so that surely explains that. Great soulful whistling organ ad mid tempo catchy rhythm.

The Fascinators - You're The Blame dotdotdot
Rock Instrumental (Instrumental)

Another great Johnny and the Hurricanes wannabe track with guts and edge. It's unfortunate that it's such a clone, because it's extremely well done. Very cool song.

Jimmie Ganzberg and the Crowns - Rebel Yell dotdotdot
Rock Instrumental (Instrumental)

"Rebel Yell" is a raucous version of Dixie featuring driving piano, raunchy sax, and guitar, and rumbling bass and drums. Driving rhythm full of energy and primitive cool!

Roland James - Patriotic Guitar dotdotdot
Rock Instrumental (Instrumental)

The "Marine's Hymn" is all pumped up for a rockin' ride across the sea. Whistling "Yankee Doodle" middle, a verse or two from "Anchors Away," and a pile of youthful energy. This is a too-fun medley of classic Americana. Way cool!

Roland James - Guitarville dotdotdot
Rock Instrumental (Instrumental)

"Guitarville" sports some slightly gutty guitar and a simple circling riff that serves it well. While not really melodic, the song carries you along just fine. The sax in the middle is loud and raspy as was essential in genuine rock instros in 1959.

The Rangers - Four On The Floor dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This guitar instro is a warbly number using a riff and a rhythm. It's got an adventurous feel and rockin' drums, but is like a minor Travis Wammack number without the fuzz.

The Rangers - (Ghost) Riders In The Sky dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Based strongly on The Ramrods' version, "(Ghost) Riders In The Sky" has the tremolo guitar, vocal wail, and cattle you expect, along with a taw sax break and tat great rhythm.

Ricki Starr and his All-Stars - Shooting Star dotdotdot
Presurf (Instrumental)

Scraping strings, muted low-e rhythms, shimmering tremolo, and spooky tone. "Shooting Star" is very original tonally, especially when you consider it's 1959. A very unusual track with character and shimmering charm.

The Riptides - Machine Gun dotdotdotdot
Rockabilly (Instrumental)

This 1959 record has been covered many times in the rockabilly circles, and has also found its way into "surf" collections. Highly rhythmic and infectious, "Machine Gun" is just plain cool. Great primitive fifties guitar and 15 IPS slap back.

The Shutdowns - Four In The Floor dotdotdot
Hot Rod (Instrumental)

This was a cool single when I first got it back in '62 or so. It is a rhythm dominated number, with a minimal progression, covered by racing hot rod engines. Way fun.

The Shutdowns - Straightaway dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Straightaway" is a rhythm dominated number. It's interesting that the melody is Freddie King's "San Jose," and the drum breaks smack of "Wipe Out," especially since it predates it.

Eddie Smith with the Hornets - Upturn dotdotdot
Fifties Rock (Instrumental)

"Shot Rod" is a chord rocker mostly. Manic drums, thumpin' bass, and speedy pickin' in a post guitar boogie format drive the demons from the hall. Nothing like a melody in sight, but lots of drive and thrashing angst.

Eddie Smith with the Hornets - Border Beat dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a Link Wray influenced number, not in intensity or tone, but in construction. Twangy, relentlessly dramatic, and sporting a melodic riff, "Border Beat" has a timeless rock 'n country twang and charm, and some rich gutty guitar tone.

Teddy and the Rough Riders - Tomahawk dotdotdot
Presurf (Instrumental)

"Tomahawk" sports a circular riff, some reverby presurf guitar licks, bongos, and a catchy rhythm. Much more a progression than a song, but still very engaging. This is a nice track to fill between aquatic raves.

Teddy and the Rough Riders - Thunder Head dotdotdot
Presurf (Instrumental)

This 1960 single is not really more than a grode chord progression, yet its primal twang and low down growl keep it interesting. Oh the power of simplicity on guitar. This has all the charm and elements that were there at the birth of surf just a year later.

The Ultra-Tones - Locomotion dotdotdot
Rock Instrumental (Instrumental)

Cool cymbals and a basic fifties rhythm, saucy rockabilly drums, and a raw sax lead present a typical rock instro from before the rise of surf. Super echo on the sax in the middle adds a strange psychedelic edge.