Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: The Godfathers Of Psychobillydotdotdot
artworkPresurf rock instro fans will find lots here to enjoy. Ranging from the obscure to the familiar guitar monsters, The Godfathers Of Psychobilly contains just what it says... a giant slab of the brand of rock instro that launched psychobilly, or rather that they revered. Very cool!
Picks: Arvee Allens - Fast Freight, Burt Blanca - Shamash, Al Casey - Ramrod, The Checkers - Stormin', Wes Dakus and the CLUB 93 Rebels - El Ringo, Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Del-Tone Rock, Ray Ethier - Slave Girl, The Frogmen - Underwater, Frankie Gem - Crystal Rock, The Jive-A-Tones - Wild Bird, The Moontrekkers - Night Of The Vampire, Paul Revere and the Raiders - Orbit (The Spy), The Rhythm Rockers - Crisis, The Scorpions - Riders In The Sky, The Strangers - Caterpillar Crawl, The Teen-Beats Featuring Don Rivers And The Califfs - Califf Boogie, Link Wray and his Raymen - Jack The Ripper, Slinky, Radar, Dixie-Doodle

Track by Track Review

Fast Freight dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This track has little or nothing to do with surf, but on the other hand, it is a fine rhythmic instro from one of the truly great losses to the rock world. Arvee Allens aka Richie Valens' name was shortened by Del-Fi from Valensuela) to overcome fears of a stigma from the Mexican name. His raw energy and magnetic appeal were unmistakable from his sessions. This track has plenty of his flair, and while not very melodic, and void of any surfisms, it holds attention throughout with it's shear innocent excitement.

Shamash dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Riffy and progression based, this track features very out-front guitar and very subdued bass and drums. Gritty and well played, and mostly in a rockabilly b-side style, "Shamash" was the flip to "Texas Rider."

Rock (Instrumental)

Carnations - Fraternity F-863 [Casual c/w Red Wing] 1959

Ramrod dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Al reportedly played lead on the Duane Eddy hit single, because Duane was on tour when the studio was booked. Al was his studio rhythm player, but seldom played live with him. This is the same arrangement, played with complete abandon.

Stormin' dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

From Lethbridge, Alberta comes a combo that was for a time aligned with CJOC and the reigning instro combo at local dances. This is a fast and exciting number with cool picking and rhythm, but not much to be confused with melody.

Twang dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Little going on here beyond a primitive guitar cycling through an AABA pattern. Slightly jungle, and there's cool plinky piano, but not too much more.

El Ringo dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Fireballs' "El Ringo" is delivered in rockin' style with lots of reverb and surf feel. The original is very cool, and this takes it into the surf for more fun and big twang. This track was recorded at the studios of CJCA.

Del-Tone Rock dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Del-Tone Rock" was the B-side of "Let's Go Trippin'" from the Del-tone days. It displays the tradition rock 'n' roll roots Dick Dale's early instro sound was born of, and also foretells the soon to be born surf sound. It also helps clarify the residency of the original version of "Let's Go Trippin'" on the presurf side of the boundary. A very fine track.

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.

Rockin' The Blues dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a basic raw sax blues jam in a rock format. Aside from the clapping bridges, it's a riff rocker with a nasty edge and little melody. Primal intro rock 'n' roll.

Underwater dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Frogmen romp with "Underwater." It's very much a surf precursor, and important for that reason. Numerous of their tracks have appeared on various budget comps over the past few years.

Crystal Rock dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Faster paced, vibrato reverb twang, very playful, and very infectious. Images of children playing in the sweetwater, maidens frolicking on the sand, a bit of country, a spot of the sea, and a rolling rhythm. What more is needed? Damn fine track.

Wild Bird dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

15 ips slap back on the drums, and a basic guitar progression behind a simple riff rockin' twanger. The guitar is loud and nasty, like a Minneapolis roadhouse blues extraction.

Night Of The Vampire dotdotdotdot
UK Near Horror (Instrumental)

This is one grode scary Halloween tune from Joe Meek's Moontrekkers circa 1961. Intense, weird, and thumpy stompy. The guitar borders on surf in places where the reverb is used slightly and the notes damped. Truly inspired!

Orbit (The Spy) dotdotdot
Space (Instrumental)

The "Boss" guitar intro, the spacy sfx, and the low-E guitar grind make this a really nice side trip in the annuls of presurf. Mostly a grindy progression, but very ominous. Most unlike what you'd expect from the Columbia period R&R.

Crisis dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Crisis" is a sorta splashy riff rocker of the precursor to surf variety. Near surf tone, and minimal progressions as many early surf instros were. This is a decent track with flair and spunk, and stands up to repeated listening.

Riders In The Sky dotdotdot
Cowboy (Instrumental)

Fast cowboy rhythms and cool whammy twang accompany a bit of a noodly guitar lead. This is such a versatile song, that many arrangements work, including this one. Pretty cool.

Caterpillar Crawl dotdotdotdot
R&B Big Guitar (Instrumental)

This is the ultra grode original of a tune that the Lively Ones did so well, and that Dick Dale still includes in his set. Totally funky and groovy, and very sensual. Written and played by Joel Scott Hill long before he joined Canned Heat, "Caterpillar Crawl" has been covered many times, and inspired The Rumblers' "Boss" and much of what The Cramps sound.

Califf Boogie dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Califf Boogie" is a slightly up-tempo vintage rocker with a grinding frantic groove. Similar in aural quality, but not at all the same melody or progression as part one. A "Honey Don't" intro to part two is guttier but no more interesting than part one. This is a great rockabilly boogie, while also being as simple as they come. It's actually quite infectious. Rhythmic and energetic, it lacks only from a lead guitar not present enough. Damn cool track.

Clap Trap dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This UK oddity is a little like Sandy Nelsons' "And Then There Were Drums." The riff is more repetitious, bailed out only by increasing saxology and drums. The drums solos in this 1959 single are not as inspired as Sandy's could be. Incidentally, the writer is John Blair, but you know it's not thee John Blair!

Rompin' dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

The guitar tone is in the presurf groove, hinting of reverb to come. The backtrack is basic one chord rockin' jive. No melody, just a riff and some chunk, and a chorus so you don't get bored. The sax in the break is both nasty and restrained.

Jack The Ripper dotdotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Is there another instro up to the power or importance of "Jack The Ripper?" I don't think so. I still vividly remember the chill I felt (there it is again) the first time I heard this record. Even on cruddy little table radio, this stood the hairs on the back of my neck on end. This is a powerful and ominous recording, with its rolling rhythm and tom tom cadence, and intense guitar tone. It dominates you as you listen. It is as essential as it gets. Issued in 1961, it has inspired and been covered by countless guitarists. It is dark, brooding, mysterious, and the vibrato is superb. This timeless melody personifies the ability of voiceless rock to convey an image, even more than "Rumble" does. It is simply superb.

Slinky dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Zippy comes to mind. This great track uses flying Spanish double picked tones and energetic playing to convey an irresistible melody line. Instantly personal and magnetic. It's funny, but this is just one of the best tracks in quite a while, yet there are few descriptors that come to mind other than bitchin' and must have.

Radar dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The B-side of the Dave Clark Five's "Bits And Pieces" was a grand instro titled "Chaquita" that has long begged surf reincarnation. The Flat Duo Jets' rendering is hot and uses the pomp of "Sing Sing Sing" styled swing tunes. Susan and the SurfTones on the other hand, use suave tones, a groovin' low-key energy, and a quiet kinda thunder. This give it a very cool edge, and makes it very endearing. Susan's cries of "ooh, Chaquita" further the coolness.

Dixie-Doodle dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Link Wray provides the tune, Susan and friends provide the surf sounds. "Trembler" serves as the intro and outro for "Ace Of Spades," both of which are much cleaner than the Linkster, while neither loses its bite. The drums are haunting. Fine track.