Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: The Del-Fi Raritiesdotdotdot
artworkThis German collection of Del-Fi tracks contains some great stuff. Most appears elsewhere, but not all. Most of the vocals appear no where else, and for good reason, except for the absolutely incredible "Back Seat '38 Dodge" by Opus I. This is a track I've long hoped would appear from the Del-Fi vaults. Great surf guitar and ominous European vocals (like the Renegades).

Also on the vocal side are the silly "Okie Surfer" by David Gates (later of Bread) with Leon Russell on piano, and the Surfettes's little ditty "Sidewalk Surfer," which was actually Carol Conners. The song was written by Conners and Buzz Cason of Ronny and the Daytonas. You'll also be thrilled with the absurd "Mother, May I Go Surfin'?" by the Crocketts, the surf pop of Larry Bright as he sings "Surfin' Queen," and the post Monster Mash silliness of the Ticklers' dumb "Millie The Ghoul." It's almost like Don Bowman's "Dumb Dan" (a parody of "Big Bad John"). Last is the derivative British Invasion / Gary Paxton style gimmickry of the Scramblers' "Beatle Walk."

The liner notes are better than average.
Picks: Church Key, Thunder Reel, Hay Burner, Drag Beat, Surfari, Pintor, Moongoon Twist, Wild Twist, Mag Rims, Our Favorite Martian, Steel Pier, Road Runner, Wolf Man, Surfin' Anniversary, Candymatic, Surfari, Rhythm Surfer, Wipe Out, Corrido Twist, Dawn Patrol, Hot Toddy, Gaucho, High Noon Rumble, The Chase, Miserlou

Track by Track Review


Church Key dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is like a lo-fi track of the Centurions doing the Revels' "Church Key." It's nasty and primitive, over reverbed and very low-E.

Thunder Reel dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Thunder Reef is a riff-rockin' surf instro, with not much reverb, and little melody. The stompin' sensibilities are dominant, and the rhythm is infectious. This is more spirited than the studio session, with poundier drums and more energy. The Shindogs are the Bobby Fuller Four. The stereo is limited to handclaps left and cymbals right.

Hay Burner dotdotdot
Bumpkin Hot Rod (Instrumental)

"Hay Burner" has a barn dance quality, with a horn honkin' and a weird party feel about it. Lot's of yips and yells. The De-Fenders, the Darts, and the Deuce Coupes were all the same studio band, with Glen Campbell playing lead guitar.

Drag Beat dot
Hot Rod (Instrumental)

Basic riffology... chord progression, drum solo, and not much else. This is the same band as the Deuce Coupes and Darts.

Surfari dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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

Pintor dotdotdotdot
Spanish Surf (Instrumental)

The Pharos are a total mystery. No one seems to know who they were. A few quirky tracks exist, "Pintor" among them. It's a rare, pleasant listening, Latin surf track. It has a certain quaintness, an infectious melody, and well placed whammies. Their other tracks are on various Del-Fi compilations and elsewhere.

Moongoon Twist dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a mighty dry riff rock track, with only it's disjointed energy to rely on. Not very interesting or memorable. Just old. The Moongooners were Scott Engel, John Maus, and John Stewart, who became the Walker Brothers after a stint as the Dolton Brothers. Scott Engel issued a surf instro single called "Devil Surfer." The tone here is similar, but it's much less "authentic."

Wild Twist dotdot
Organ Riff (Instrumental)

A go-go jam, with no redeeming qualities, unless your looking for that perfect frat party record that no one will listen to while they shout to be heard in their meaningless verbal exchanges in search of the next lay.

Mag Rims dotdotdot
Hot Rod (Instrumental)

This is the same tune that Dick Dale issued. The guitar is fuzzy and the drums are great. It's fast paced and slightly monotonous.

Our Favorite Martian dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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.

Steel Pier dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Except for "Sea Horse," this is Merrell Fankhauser's best writing, as evidenced by the number of covers out there. It features a simple melody line with drum breaks and a dark brooding tone in an infectious setting. Very cool.

Road Runner dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is not the same tune as the Road Runners issued, nor is it Bo Diddley's song. A non-surf lead guitar over a damped reverbed rhythm guitar that produces occasional glissandos. This east LA band didn't often sound like this.

Wolf Man dotdotdotdot
Border Radio Surf (Instrumental)

This is very similar to The Lonely Dragster, with Bobby's Wolfman Jack imitation overdubbed, and wolf baying added. It's pretty surfy, chunky, and moderately paced. It's a cool track, dripping the early sixties border radio days when Wolfman Jack was on XERB beaming into California (and on XERF and others along the border as well). Saturday nights, car radios were tuned to XERB, KRLA, KFWB, KHJ, KAFY, KFXM, or KGFJ, from which oozed out the surf, the rock, and the R&B that drove a generation.

Surfin' Anniversary dotdotdot
Surf ()

This is a funny idea. Doing a surf instro version of the anniversary waltz seems really bizarre. Though it's a strange idea, it works quite well. Trad surf knot tying music. Real surf guitar, thundering tom toms, and that silly melody. Fun.

Candymatic dotdotdot
Surf Blues (Instrumental)

Piano and guitar blues, slowly writhing with a soul groove. Interesting stinging whammy and reverbed second guitar. A real merger between surf and blues.

Surfari dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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

Rhythm Surfer dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another pleasant listening excursion into the obscure and not particularly great. It just doesn't stand up to the caliber of "Pintor." the piano carries the lead while the rhythm guitar plays a damped by unreverbed line. Mostly a jam.

Wipe Out dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The chorded introduction is charming. The guitar progression is the basis for the Surfaris' "Wipe Out." It took me a long time to come to realize/accept this, but it surely is so. There are also differences which are in part the luck of the draw on takes chosen for the release, particularly in the lack of drum breaks. Here is Merrell's timeline and comments about the song.

"The facts are: I wrote a song in 1961 while surfing I called "Kick Out." The [Impacts] sax player laughed at me and said 'You Really Got Wiped Out!' We changed the title from "Kick Out" to "Wipe Out" before we went into the studio Sept. of 62 and recorded 18 tracks, some of which were on The Impacts Del Fi LP and others ended up on compilations. We didn't know anything about contracts or copyrights... Drummer Richard Delvy of the Challengers was watching us record in Ted Brinson's studio in L.A. that day. Producer Tony Hilder told Delvy to go out in the car and get more publishing contracts, and we signed our rights away. We later came back a month or so later and re-recorded "Wipe Out" with drum solos, our original only had one solo. We did 4 different versions, that to my knowledge never came out. Our chord progression was exactly the same as the almost 1 year later Surfaris version. The newer version The Impacts did had my guitar mixed more to the front and was very close to the Surfaris. It's interesting Delvy went on to work with The Surfaris and even played drums on a lot of tracks on their first LP. Also they had a song called "Blue Surf" as The Impacts did that was similar, and our producer Tony Hilder also worked with the Original Surfaris. Its quite a coincidence if it really was?... Our version was copyrighted by Hilder almost a full year before The Surfaris version. If we only had those 4 other takes of "Wipe Out!" Revels Sax man Norm Knowles heard them and there was no doubt in his mind something strange happened."

Corrido Twist dotdotdot
Surf Blues (Instrumental)

"Corrido Twist" is more a blues number, not unlike some Freddie King tunes. More jammin' riff than a song. Guitarist Jim Reese subsequently joined the Bobby Fuller Four. You can hear some licks that play a role in the BF4 later on.

Dawn Patrol dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a solid track, quite different from the rest by this band. The melody riff is tasty, surfy, and well suited for the excellent backtrack, with its piano and traveling rhythm. It has a Richie Podolor feel to it, both in basic tone and in the writing. Cool. This was also issued under the name the Deuce Coupes.

Hot Toddy dotdotdot
Studio (Instrumental)

Guttural guitar and a playful horn riff like a slowed and less infectious Pretenders or Persuaders.

Gaucho dotdotdot
Cowboy Surf (Instrumental)

A rolling cowboy beat and a smooth lead guitar line, delivered with surf and cactus in mind. Infectious but not quite exciting. It's that play quiet in the studio thing I think.

High Noon Rumble dotdot
Studio Hot Rod (Instrumental)

The Venturas were from west Texas. "High Noon Rumble" is nearly a surf treatment of the theme from High Noon. Not particularly interesting.

The Chase dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the lone stereo track on this 2 CD set. Very nice Bobby Fuller & the Fanatics / BF4 soft surf sound. The lead could have been more present, but this is a great track. The lead is Bobby's Southwest sound over heavily reverbed and damped rhythm guitar. Bobby is playing a nine string guitar!

Miserlou dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This tracks was cut at Bobby's surf prime, live and raw. The recording is overdriven (distorted), but the playing is very hot. This ranks among the best versions of this venerable surf classic on record. Full of fire and reverbed charm.