Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Rare West Coast Surf Instrumentalsdotdotdotdot
artworkSouthern California's legendary Titan label issued a number of fine singles in the early sixties, some from artists that would become very influential, others songs that would become staples on the surf scene. Among the most important of all the surf bands of the sixties were the Lively Ones, who evolved out of the the Surf Men, who's entire output is here. You'll groove to the original "Paradise Cove" and "El Toro," and the raw "Caterpillar Crawl" from the Strangers too. There are also great tracks from the Playboys, and both sides of Davie Allan's first single. 22 of the tracks here are instrumental gems, with two very early Gary Usher vocals added, the desperately depressed lost love "Driven Insane," and the poppy "You're The Girl."
Picks: Ghost Hop, Rockin' Rebel, Makin' Out, Earthshaker, Satan's Holiday, Paradise Cove, War Path, Beyond The Blue, Boogie Man, Young Maggie, The Breakers, The Cassanova, A Lost Soul, The Scramble, Navajo, El Toro, Malibu Run, The Cat Walk, Dance Of The Ants, Shot Down, Hill Stomp, Caterpillar Crawl

Track by Track Review


Ghost Hop dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Ghost Hop" sports a great melody riff played on low-E surf guitar, with classic piano tinkling and great drums. The nasty sax in the break is a fine offset. Powerful and infectious.

Rockin' Rebel dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a riff rocker in a late fifties rockin' format. No real melody, just an in your face attack. Loud and dirty.

Makin' Out dotdotdotdotdot
Big Guitar (Instrumental)

Whoa! This is major pre surf twang. It's nastier than the Storms single, more rhythmic and pumped, less rich. It's downright sensual. Yikes! Makes you wanna go in the back seat with your baby... Plas Johnson plays sax with the Storms on this track.

Earthshaker dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

So, this is another single from the same label that launched the great Jody Reynolds ("Thunder" is a killer tack) and the Surfmen. Rare, but not earthshaking. "Earthshaker" uses a melody very similar to the rhythm guitar from Johnny and the Hurricanes "Beatnik Fly" ("Jimmy Crack Corn"), and relies on similar tonality to "Satan's Holiday." A nice track.

Satan's Holiday dotdotdot
Brit Rock (Instrumental)

Fee-fi-fo-fum into "The Hall Of The Mountain King" in a sporty rendition with shrill Richie Blackmore guitar tones.

Paradise Cove dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Surf Men's rendering of "Paradise Cove" was the second recording for them. As the Expressos, they had recorded it as Wandering with Aki Aleong producing. They had renamed it "Extasy," but changed it to "Paradise Cove" to relate to the rising surf phenomenon. It's more basic than the familiar Lively Ones version, and truly primal and significant in it's seminal creation of the Polynesian rhythm cool lagoon variety of Surf. This is a must-have track for any collector.

War Path dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It is an Indian styled surf tune of unusual brilliance. It has a great melody, and a great sound. A totally infectious single! The first of four versions of this tune, this being pretty dry, with nice string bending, and great damped picking transitions. I find this to be one of Davie's prettiest tunes, and this version is very nice.

Beyond The Blue dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Beyond The Blue" is slow, shiny, surfy, and really pretty. Davie isn't just a fuzz monster. This melodic and flowing track is one of the great surf obscuros.

Boogie Man dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The Strangers tracks were mostly riff rockers, sometimes more interesting than others. "Boogie Man" has a tasteful fifties riff and unique drum work in the break. This could easily be morphed into a surf instro with a little reverb and a change of the beat.

Young Maggie dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a reasonable treatment of the "Red River Valley." In many ways, it is similar to many Belairs arrangements of traditional tunes. Tasty sax, twangy low-E guitar rhythm, and that same innocence.

The Breakers dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Like a cross between "Last Night" (Mar-Keys) and a surf-n-soul groove, "The Breakers" is a fine example of the links between R&B and surf. This could easily have been from the Rhythm Kings / Soul Kings. very suave.

The Cassanova dotdotdot
Surf Luau Sax (Instrumental)

Exotic percussion and suave sax a la Dave Myers and the Surftones in the groovy luau surf style, with a liquid sensuality and a simple but effective riff. Very cool.

A Lost Soul dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"The Lost Soul" is the MOR classic "Sincerely" presented instrumentally, with a distant sax lead and shimmering vibrato guitar accompaniment. It's surfy and groovy, suave and sultry, like a cousin to the Viscounts' "Harlem Nocturne."

The Scramble dotdotdotdot
R&B Surf (Instrumental)

This is an amazing bit of work. The guitar accompaniment is a series of glissandoes behind an R&B sax and keyboard riff rocker. The blend of styles is both unique and refreshing. Completely original.

Navajo dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Indian rhythms, thundering tom toms, nasty sax leads, low down guitar chords... and whoops and hollers. Blistering nasty stereotypical rock instro groove.

El Toro dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

For all the world, this sounds like the foundation for "High Tide," and may hint at the original arrangement that the Surfaris copied at the controversial "Surfer Joe" session, and, if verified, may put to rest the argument against the track dating on the "Surfaris Stomp" CD. This is slow and moody, and melodic. It pleases the ears with its round guitar tone and very pretty melody. It's listed on the sleeve as "Paradise Cove."

Malibu Run dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is not the Fender IV tune. It's derived from "Paradise Cove" and is very similar to "Surfers' Lament." Quite tribal and very cool.

The Cat Walk dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Great trembling surf guitar rumblers under a combo organ instro with a "Bears in the Woods" feel to it. Quite a bit more interesting than most organ lead tracks.

Dance Of The Ants dotdotdotdot
Sultry Surf (Instrumental)

Growly guitar and saucy sax duet moans over tribal slow runway drums. A spectacular track with delicate damped guitar in the break. Very sultry.

Shot Down dotdotdotdot
Surfabilly (Instrumental)

Like a Mexican cantina that features cannelloni, this very pretty number reminds me of some of the Farina brothers' writing, a bit of the Buddy Merrill styling, and slinky Latin quarter sensuality. A nice tune, moody, mystical, and smooth. Like a Jim Thomas construction, this moodily meanders through some interesting guitar tones and shimmering delicate melody ideas, displaying island visions and wahine sway.

Hill Stomp dotdotdot
Big Guitar (Instrumental)

Raw guitar and basic riffin', jammin' and rockin' in a fifties vein. Not melodic, just nasty.

Caterpillar Crawl dotdotdotdot
R&B Big Guitar (Instrumental)

This is the ultra grodie 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.