Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Live! From the KFJC Surf Battledotdotdotdot
artworkThis CD was recorded live direct to 2-track at the 2006 KFJC Surf Battle at the Hotel Utah in San Francisco. It sounds like it has not been mastered, and it uses hard-panned left-right guitar mixes. The tracks include many covers by Bay Area surfbands. Highlights are the ever superb Pollo Del Mar, the Pyronauts, and Meshugga Beach Party.
Picks: The Berzerkers - Sacquito Frio, Waimea Cruncher, The CopperTones - Undertow, Endless Summer, The Del Mars - Party Wave, Playa con Dios, The Lava Rats - Church Key, Blow Torch, Meshugga Beach Party - At The RabbiĠs Table, Bashana HabaĠa, The Neighbors - Sulu As Kono, Midnight Ride, Pollo Del Mar - Annabelle Lee / Red Asphalt, The Pyronauts - Fire, Sifaka, Reducing Agents - Pull Out, Journey To The Stars, Surf Cinema - CÔmon Do the Laika, Boris The Barbarian

Track by Track Review


The Berzerkers - Sacquito Frio dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of Dino's most enduring pieces, and one of his earliest real surf instros as well, "Sacquito Frio" always makes me grin. I always expect the second guitar for balance, yet trio arrangement works quite well. The drums are pretty ambient on this recording, and the mix is pretty lifeless, especially given The Berzerkers tendency to overdrive the energy.

The Berzerkers - Waimea Cruncher dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A song I had had the pleasure of naming way back when, "Waimea Cruncher" is a larger than life monster with major distortion and power. While the mix is not complimentary to the song, the track still demands your attention and respect.

The CopperTones - Undertow dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Undertow" is a progression rocker, much more rock than surf in style. Occasionally moody, nicely whammied, and verging on dark.

The CopperTones - Endless Summer dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Great tom toms and rumbling bass run beneath a melody line that's very coastal. Fastish and spunky. This is not the Sandals' legendary song. Quite tribal, with delicate muted reverb notes.

The Del Mars - Party Wave dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The lead and rhythm play against each other in this delicately balanced track. A touch of quirky muted Munsterism and splash, along with a grin make this a very enjoyable track. Very nice!

The Del Mars - Playa con Dios dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Spanish flavor and soulful bass add up to a cool track, especially as the two guitars work off one another. "Playa con Dios" is a gently flowing track with a degree of intensity. Quite nice!

The Lava Rats - Church Key dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Big and fast, The Lava Rats deliver a very party animal rendering of "Church Key," much as the Thrusters used to, except that it's super fast right from the get-go. Very hot!

The Lava Rats - Blow Torch dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This punky, intense, and fast number starts with pick slides in a modern Dick Dale-ish thrasher mode. It's quite a workout.

Meshugga Beach Party - At The RabbiĠs Table dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Always a high point for me, "At The RabbiĠs Table" is my absolute favorite Meshugga Beach Party song. With grins masked by beards, the band lays this out in superb gentility and perfection. Wonderful!

Meshugga Beach Party - Bashana HabaĠa dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A rock bass line and dribbling reverbed surf guitar, "Bashana HabaĠa" reminds me a little of the Chantays' "Beyond" is approach, but not in sound or structure. It's a thoroughly cool song delivered with excellent musicianship.

The Neighbors - Sulu As Kono dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A slow and soft song with a lovely moodiness gives way to a fairly straight forward rock instro infected with a few surfisms. Loud and raucous with energy to spare, "Sulu As Kono" chops and grinds with the sparkle of the beach just beyond the dawn.

The Neighbors - Midnight Ride dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Long whammy chords create a very surfable sound amid the darkness of the melody. "Midnight Ride" conveys tragedy on the curl. A solid beat and lovely interplay between lead and rhythm give this a lot of warmth. Superb!

Pollo Del Mar - Annabelle Lee / Red Asphalt dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Rounding out the surf battle, Pollo Del Mar plays two of their most popular songs segued together so artfully. "Annabelle Lee" is so infectious and dramatic, and "Red Asphalt" is a fine rocker. Superb playing and ghostly howls. "Annabelle Lee" is easily my all-time favorite Pollo Del Mar song. Rhythmic, infectious, and very attractive. Swimming with rich and fluid guitar lines, grumbly bass down under, and perfect drums. Continuing the bass rumble, "Red Asphalt" powers and pummels in it's own unique way. The rhythm is pumping infectious while the melody line is almost delicate. Two faves medleyed together. Oh the joy! Thanks to Ferenc for the nod as well.

The Pyronauts - Fire dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Big drama and mysterious happenings open "Fire," eventually yielding to a chunkin' surf rhythm and a slightly unsettling melody line. The more I see this band, the more I like them. Very artful writing and playing, and superb showmanship. Great drums and infectious guitar work.

The Pyronauts - Sifaka dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Sifaka" is a splendidly infectious song with a sophisticated structure driven by superb surf rhythms. There are many fine tracks I love from The Pyronauts, but this is perhaps my fave. It portrays mysterious imagery, surf power, and a playful sophistication not common in surf. Superb playing and writing.

Reducing Agents - Pull Out dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Pull Out" is a rompin' original full of guitar whackery and chunky rhythm. It's a ways from surf both aurally and structurally, but relies on the idiom for inspiration. Big instro-rock structure and sound drive it hard.

Reducing Agents - Journey To The Stars dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This hard rock transgression of the Ventures' "Journey To The Stars" is quite raucous, with a faster pace and very high energy. In most respects, this is hard rock, though there are ample surf underpinnings. There's a great deal of spit and vinegar here.

Surf Cinema - CÔmon Do the Laika dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of Laika and the Cosmonauts' goofier songs, and certainly one of their more readily identifiable tunes, "CÔmon Do the Laika" is romped and stomped. It depends on the second guitar a lot, and in trio format, seems kind of thin. Still, there's a big grin here.

Surf Cinema - Boris The Barbarian dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Part way between rock and surf, "Boris The Barbarian" sports some fine picking and compressed distortion. It's a big rockin' number that employs a basic riff. The big whammy chords add a sense of the waves.