Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Kahuna Classicsdotdotdotdot
artworkK-TEL has combined a significant portion of the Rhino surf box with some tracks from their "re-recordings" vault to put together a pretty decent compilation. I am disappointed that neither of the 1975 recordings of the Chantays' "Pipeline" appear here, but that aside, this is a pretty good package. As an entry point, is serves to introduce a wide spectrum of the genre, including some pretty obscure tracks, though it's liner notes pale in comparison to the surf box. A good buy, especially because it's in the $6 range.
Picks: The Astronauts - Baja, The Belairs - Mr. Moto, Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Let's Go Trippin', Miserlou, Eddie and the Showmen - Mr. Rebel, Preston Epps - Bongo Rock, The Fireballs - Bulldog, The Lively Ones - Goofy Foot, Dave Myers and the Surftones - Moment Of Truth, The New Dimensions - Cat On A Hot Foam Board, (Aki Aleong &) the Nobles - Body Surf, The Pharos - Pintor, The Pyramids - Penetration, The Ready Men - Disintegration, The Revels with Barbara Adkins - Church Key, The Rhythm Rockers - Breakfast At Tressels, The Sentinals - Latin'ia, The Ventures - Slaughter On Tenth Avenue

Track by Track Review


The Astronauts - 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!

The Belairs - 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!

Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Let's Go Trippin' dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dick Dale's August 1961 recording of "Let's Go Trippin'" is ahead of the surf sound, more a rock 'n' roll number than what would be later identified as surf. It is nevertheless a very important key to the development of the genre.

Dick's original Del-tones were a hell of a band. This session featured a seasoned Barry Rillera on sax, who had been in his brother Ricky Rillera's band the Rhythm Rockers (no relation to the surfband of that name), with whom Richard Berry had sung for over a year at Harmony Park between 1954 and 1955. It was at Harmony Park one Saturday night in 1955 that Richard heard them do Rene Touzet's "El Loco Cha Cha" for the first time, and was inspired by it's "duh duh duh, duh-duh" intro to write "Louie Louie."

Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Miserlou dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is not the hit single. It's also not the Rendezvous version. This is from Dick's 1975 sessions at GNP, not far from when he recorded those ridiculous demos for RCA... The performance is very good, but the mix is less than energetic. Well worth having. This is it! There is nothing else after this! The first record of it's kind. The ripping monster of all time!!!!!

Eddie and the Showmen - Mr. Rebel dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Eddie and the Showmen's third single was a tribute to KRLA DJ Reb Foster, who also owned the Revelaire Club, where Eddie Bertrand found themselves to be the house band for a while. This is one of the great surf singles, sporting a totally infectious and optimistic melody and beat.

Preston Epps - Bongo Rock dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is a marvelous and fun classic rock 'n' roll single. The rhythm is totally infectious, and the simple melody line sticks in your memory cells despite any attempt to clear your head. This has almost nothing to do with surf music, though it was a staple among some of the bands. It predates the genre, and has no reverb at all. It is important for a couple of reasons. It was the first rock instro featuring the bongo drum as a central instrument, and it was the structure of this song that was one basis for the Surfaris' "Wipe Out."

The Fireballs - Bulldog dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

"Bulldog" is rhythmic and infectious, and has a quiet power about it, as did most of the Fireballs / Norman Petty output. All of their sessions are available in various CD forms, from ACE, Sundazed, and others. The Challengers borrowed "Bulldog" for their debut album Surf Beat.

The Lively Ones - Goofy Foot dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It just doesn't get better than this! A high power track is an essential part of any vintage surf collection. This is just about the best Lively Ones track ever! Fast, powerful, high energy, ripping good guitar work, ample changes. Stunning! It's been covered, but never matched.

The Mar-Kets - Surfer's Stomp dotdotdot
Sub Surf (Instrumental)

The Mar-Kets created this nearly Lawrence Welk forties-ish "Surfers Stomp." Frankly, Susan and the SurfTones do the best version of this song. Simple slow paced innocent instrumental rock and roll, with great piano and saucy sax. Infectious and unpretentious. Don't look for the classic surf sound here, but do enjoy the simplicity and fun. Smooth and right nice.

The Marketts - Out Of Limits dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a mid seventies K-TEL recording. Less emotional, more sterile. As an alternate version, it will be necessary for you collectors out there to have.

Dave Myers and the Surftones - Moment Of Truth dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dave's interpretation of the Original Surfaris masterpiece "Moment Of Truth" is nothing short of essential listening. What Dave does with it transforms it from a stomp on demand surf obscuro to a melodic rolling almost entirely new song. The melody has been embellished, and the whole sense of rhythm has been replaced with something so infectious that it is irresistible. The use of tenor sax gives it a near-jazz element that adds to the mystery. This remains among my all-time favorite surf tracks.

The New Dimensions - 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...

(Aki Aleong &) the Nobles - Body Surf dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Nobles got the same treatment from Aki Aleong as the Surfmen had, except that in the case of the Nobles, Aki's name was appended to theirs, and his picture appeared on the album cover on Vee Jay. He did sing two songs with them, but otherwise, they were only associated via production. Here the Nobles provide "Body Surf" from their album. It's a boogie progression over a Surf beat with chunky rhythms. It's not their best recording. I would have preferred "Hiawatha," which totally shreds, or "Earthquake" which pounds mightily! "Hiawatha" is the Nobles tune that the Surfaris covered in '64 due to Ron Wilson's insistence. Sundazed or Rhino needs to reissue the whole album!

The Pharos - 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.

The Pyramids - 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.

The Ready Men - Disintegration dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Readymen were another Minnesota band that played a lot of Surf instros. "Disintegration" is a raver that remained unreleased until last year. Their writing was good, and their performances were spirited. The main riff is a basic surf progression, with jam-like break action. It's rhythmic and energetic, but not very melodic. Raw primal teen surf.

The Revels with Barbara Adkins - Church Key dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Revels had been playing for quite a while before laying down the classic slang-for-can-opener titled "Church Key" with producer Norman Knowles' girl friend Barbara Atkins giggling away. Danny Darnold is the lead player here, and Norman does duty on the sax. If you're impressed with their edgy energy.

The Rhythm Rockers - Breakfast At Tressels dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

More raw and rhythmic than reverbed, they were a dance band with a solid following. "Breakfast At Tressels" is from their lone album, and exemplifies them. This sports a cool title I've always liked. The basis of the tune is a fifties boogie, with reverbed guitar and lots of twang. No melody, but quite infectious.

The Sentinals - Latin'ia dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Easily one of the most beautiful Latin surf instros ever recorded. Tommy Nunes' writing and guitar wizardry were unsurpassed. I'd sure like to hear what he's doing now. This song shimmers. It's been on my top ten surf instro list for 33 years.

The Surfaris - Wipe Out dotdotdot
Sci-Fi Surf (Instrumental)

This is a 1975 remake recorded for K-Tel. Ron Wilson is not on the session, the sound is less crisp, and the bass is more upfront, but otherwise it's recognizable from a guitar standpoint as the Surfaris.

The Tornadoes 74 - Telstar dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This recording was done in the mid seventies for K-TEL. It bears little similarity to the marvelous Joe Meek production.

The Ventures - Slaughter On Tenth Avenue dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the original rock interpretation, and surf to boot. Its hot, powerful, dramatic, and downright infectious. Totally wonderful. This is remarkable, both for its adaptation to the surf idiom, and because of it's power. Wonderful.