Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Classic Surfdotdotdotdot
artworkThis web compilation gathers many familiar surf instros.
Picks: Mr. Moto, Pipeline, Body Surf, Baja, Point Panic, Main Title Theme From Ride The Wild Surf, Hiawatha, Penetration, Surf Beat, Scatter Shield, The Rising Surf, Heartbeat, Waikiki Run, Bullwinkle Part Ii, Malibu Run, Theme From 'The Endless Summer', Surf Rider, Fiberglass Jungle, Cat On A Hot Foam Board, The Lonely Surfer

Track by Track Review


Mr. Moto dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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!

Pipeline dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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.

Body Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Body Surf" a boogie progression over a surf beat with chunky rhythms. It's not their best recording, yet it has a certain draw that makes it work really well. It's is a lesser tune from the album, fairly dry, simple progression based and quite rhythmic.

Baja dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"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!

Point Panic dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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 glissandoes, and those wonderful Ron Wilson drums. Jim Pash's sax is most appropriate. Not often covered, but a really good tune.

Main Title Theme From Ride The Wild Surf dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

From the soundtrack to the movie Ride The Wild Surf, this is the alternate to Jan and Dean's vocal. Horns and surf guitar. It was also a single.

Hiawatha dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Well, this is it. The Nobles adapted the Hamms' beer commercial jingle ("From The Land Of Sky Blue Water") into a monster surf anthem. The Surfaris covered it to great effect. This is simply essential surf. Chunky, rhythmic, understated, tom tom driven, and without a doubt, magnetic. Excellent! This is the track that shows why Ron Wilson thought this was the best surf band around.

Penetration dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of a handful of nationally successful surf single, this track has been covered more than "Miserlou," and in more varieties of rock styles. If you don't own this track, you have entered the surf idiom yet. This is one of the essential classics. The production is unusual and masterful, and the melody is simple and enduring. It spawned hundreds of covers, and is still quite infectious.

Surf Beat dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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.

Scatter Shield dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of the best album tracks from this band. It was a single, and still carries a lot of weight with me. The engine rev up - clutch blow up sound effects at the beginning are cool. It's a good vehicle for Ron Wilson's drumming, and it's melodic and powerful.

The Rising Surf dotdotdotdotdot
Pure Gorgeous Surf (Instrumental)

Among the prettiest surf instro tracks of all time, Richie Podolor's composition is stunningly crystalline and well crafted. This track delivers imagery of the surf beginning to rise from a placid state, promising but not yet delivering big surf. The tones are characteristically clean and pure, and the melody is most memorable. Thoroughly engaging and emotionally charged!

Heartbeat dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Heartbeat" is one of the great surf obscuros. It has a minor sadness, and a minimal melody that really works, backed by a cool walking backtrack, and great accents. Excellent whammy, and ringing tone. This is one of the essential surf tracks.

Waikiki Run dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The boy's first hit with "Wipe Out" and "Surfer Joe." Their follow up single was "Point Panic" c/w "Waikiki Run," the B-side of which is this track. It's a great tom tom surf rave. The manic island drums are splendid, and the brilliant blend of musical elements shows off the prowess of this mighty band.

Bullwinkle Part Ii dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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.

Malibu Run dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Malibu Run" of the best examples of how ska was creeping into the surf instro sound just before it ended. This is a fine, very melodic, and rhythmically infectious track. Mid tempo magic. Brilliantly melodic and surfy. Check out the more ska-centered cover by the Halibuts. "Malibu Run" is a beautiful rolling song with a great melody line. It was the B-side of "Everybody Up.

Theme From 'The Endless Summer' dotdotdot
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.

Surf Rider dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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.

Fiberglass Jungle dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A gentle wave rippling at the shore chord opens to a totally ominous low-E grinder, with evil sax from the twins Kaplan-Volman a.k.a. Flo and Eddie, thundering bass from Chuck Portz, rhythmic tribal drums from Don Murray, and utterly incredible Al Nichol guitar work. This is a must-have surf MONSTER!

Cat On A Hot Foam Board dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Cat On A Hot Foam Board" is a track I've adored for 30 years. It's fiery, has a bitchin' melody, an incredible infectious tinkly piano, and pummels the drawers right off of your surf buns with its great staccato lead lines. Crank this one up big time! This song is worth the price all by itself! There are not enough stars...

The Lonely Surfer dotdotdot
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.