Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: The Crossfires Meet The Jestersdotdotdot
artworkA couple of obscure releases coupled for quite a ride.

The Crossfires are not the pre-Turtles band, but use surf reverb on most tracks. My guess is that these date from 1965 or 1966 because of the use of fuzz on some tracks. These were taken from a 1973 reissue.

The Jesters tracks are from the original Audio Fidelity album mostly, which, while technically stereo because of EQ splitting and panned engine sounds, is musically mono. Well worth tracking down.
Picks: The Crossfires - One-Four-Five, Drum Walk, Boss Guitar, Shady Lady, The Crab, Rolling, Flea Bite, Surf Party, Turkey Strut, Sidewinder, Spooked, L. A. Girls, The Jesters - Drag Bike Boogie, A-Rab, Panther Pounce, Tiger Tail, Jim Messina and the Jesters - The Breeze and I, Raunchy, No Name Dragster, Strange Man, High Voltage, Yang Bu, The Thing, The Jester, Suspense Run, The Cossack, Masatlan Rally, Honky Tonk, Chihiuahua [Chihuahua], Tamale Wagon #2, Hollywood Sound, Tamale Wagon #1

Track by Track Review


The Crossfires - One-Four-Five dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is nothing more than a riff repeated ad infinitum. Without a melody, it gets boring really fast. Shallow surf reverb on the second guitar gives if a bit of a surf flavor.

The Crossfires - Drum Walk dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Mild surf reverb and a slightly fast pace, some cool drums work, and low-volume twang. The sudden slowdown with the country lilt in the middle seems odd, yet works pretty well. A bit unusual.

The Crossfires - Boss Guitar dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Surf rhythm guitar and fuzz lead gives this a post surf pre psychedelic flavor. garage meets surf in a fanciful country air.

The Crossfires - Shady Lady dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A bit of playful whammy and a country structure with a trace of surf in the whammy and a nod to Lonnie Mack. More than just a studio session, this song has an infectious riff and chemistry. It's heavily owing to another tune I can't place at the moment. Pretty fun.

The Crossfires - The Crab dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a bluesy number with primitive fuzz lead. It's very much in the vein of 1965-66 garage, but with a lighter edge and easier gate. Nothing complicated here, just a riff and a fuzz box.

The Crossfires - Rolling dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Wailers' "Tall Cool One" is the obvious basis for this, though the melody riff is certainly not the same. Nice surf reverb on the lead as it plays a circular riff that's very friendly and playful. While definitely on the bluesy side, it's also really cool. Muted lines add a genuine surf edge.

The Crossfires - Flea Bite dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Muted surf rhythm and a bluesy lead play nicely together. The melody line is very playful, and the muted surf way cool. This sounds of the reverb combined with a bit of country twang is compelling and very fun.

The Crossfires - Surf Party dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very unsurf number, despite some reverb on the guitar. A fuzz verse here and there and a Travis Wammack weirdness give this a fairly gimmicky & forced sound.

The Crossfires - Turkey Strut dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is essentially Dick Dale and his Del-tones' "Ho-Dad Machine" with minor changes and virtually no surf soul. It's a fairly light weight number with a pretty jammy lead line.

The Crossfires - Sidewinder dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Sidewinder (mono)" sports surf guitar in a jammy setting, with an almost gimmicky feeling. Little more than a riff and a sorta splashy underbelly. Slow and so-so.

The Crossfires - Spooked dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Wet reverb second guitar circles nicely through a cool pattern while a delicate guitar plays a high pitched lead. It eventually yields to a more surfy lead with island whammy chords. Slow and tasteful, with an easy pace and delicate sound.

The Crossfires - L. A. Girls dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Jammin' like bands used to do, with one foot in R&B and the other in a near surf ethic. Ray Sharpe's "Linda Lu" is what this really is. OK, but completely forgettable.

The Jesters - Drag Bike Boogie dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a spunky riffin' boogie with reverb twang and grumbling bass. More surfable than most boogies, it has a certain catchiness despite its repetitious nature and minimal sound.

The Jesters - A-Rab dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"A-Rab" rocks with a splashed out minimalism and dark edge, and a bit of the Mideast mystery. While primitive, the splashiness demands a hearing.

The Jesters - Panther Pounce dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Panther Pounce" is another title for "Strange Man." This is a primal take on this weird song based on "Out Of Limits."

The Jesters - Tiger Tail dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

the structure of "Tiger Tail" is much more a country romp than a surf rocker, though the tone surely says surf. Spunky and fast, with splashy chords.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - The Breeze and I dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A double picked fiery lead accompanied by a dry second guitar and a thumpy bass and drums. Strong delivery, with a thick sound. This track wails, with a fast delivery and plenty of energy.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - Raunchy dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A thick and unusual version of the Bill Justis hit, but not very interesting. Chunky and full of screams from the band.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - No Name Dragster dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track employs a funky progression, is R&B oriented R&B, and has a fairly non surf melody line. Not very interesting.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - Strange Man dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Strange is right. Launching from a variation on the Twilight Zone intro notes, this track visually screams "weird." It is somewhat like a cross between the Rumblers' "Boss" and the Rod Serling classic television show. It's not complicated at all, but is quite attractive, in a curiosity way. It also has a lasting effect, and stands up to repeated listenings. Quite unusual.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - High Voltage dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Screaming engines, squealing tires, and thundering tom toms launch this high energy pounder. The melody is minimal, but the chord progression is unusual. Infectious and spirited.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - Yang Bu dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Super chunky mean surf. The boys scream and shout relentlessly. The melody is shallow, but the ominous nature of the tune is very magnetic. This is a powerful and vicious surf track. It is also the Jesters' most familiar track.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - The Thing dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - The Jester dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is just about as powerful and fast as surf gets, spitting notes out like machine gun bullets. The melody is a fine infectious bit of writing. This high powered track is just about the best Jim Messina writing ever. Nearly every cover IÕve heard has paled to this and the Thimble version.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - Suspense Run dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Funky soul groove surf, with motor sounds overdubbed. This could easily be an R&B track from Bill Black or Ernie Freeman, but it is from the mind of Messina. OK, but not remarkable.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - The Cossack dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The other great killer monster from the Jesters. This punishes the peace and quiet of an afternoon daydream with violently powerful double picking, and spectacular writing. The backtrack is not very Russian, but the melody is both eastern European and middle eastern sounding. Great track.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - Masatlan Rally dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With the flair of a Mexicano and the style of a hot roddin' surfnik, Jim Messina chunks out an intensely rhythmic and driving song. Strong and edgy, with plenty of surf reverb.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - Honky Tonk dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Bill Dogget that had the hit? This is a nice surf adaptation of an old R&B instro. Nice performance, and the tone suits the melody.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - Chihiuahua [Chihuahua] dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This traditional Mexican melody sounds really good converted to a surf track. The melody is a lot like the sort of thing Paul Johnson was writing in the early days of surf. It's rhythmic, infectious, and chunky. The bouncy and playful performance are quite enjoyable.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - Tamale Wagon #2 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Tamale Wagon #2" is mostly choppy, and very similar to a blend of the Piltdown Men's instro hit "Brontosaurus Stomp" and Duane Eddy's "Mason Dixon Lion." This is relatively non-melodic, and unremarkable as well. The hot rod sounds overdubbed do not help. It's not the same song as other Jesters tracks of the same name.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - Hollywood Sound dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This has that funky Sunset Strip Go-Go club rhythm, and a chunky sound. It's a jam, and probably useful to end sets for that break.

Jim Messina and the Jesters - Tamale Wagon #1 dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Tamale Wagon #1" is a splashy Mexican number with a cool party rhythm and a relaxed pace. The progression is the dominant feature, though the melody is very cool.