Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
|This 1976 K-tel release sports some originals and some remakes recorded in 1975, including seldom-heard seventies sessions from the Surfaris and Chantays. Most of the tracks are murky mono, some reprocessed with reverb to give a stereo illusion, while others are remakes. Mostly ignorable, except for the Chantays' track, which can be found on CD these days with much better sound.|
Picks: Rebel-Rouser, Wipe Out, Tequila, Memphis, The Happy Organ, Red River Rock, Raunchy, Sleepwalk, Watermelon Man, Telstar, Pipeline, Limbo Rock, Walk, Don't Run, Wild Weekend, Bongo Rock, Because They're Young, Wheels, Bumble Boogie, Guitar Boogie Shuffle, In The Mood
Track by Track Review
Big guitar twango, much like the original. It's not exactly a repro, but there's only a knife blade between the two from a production perspective. It's so close that one must question the point of re-recording it. The only thing lacking is the exuberance of youth, Steve Douglas' sax wail and the acoustics of the original room.
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.
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)
This is their BIG HIT!. It is a sax based number that was probably the frat house standard, long before "Louie Louie" was. The spoken "Tequila" at the end of the lines has become a standard of Latin party rock. Very infectious.
Like the Surfaris' "Wipe Out," "Memphis" and "Wham!" were recorded to consume twenty minutes of leftover studio time. Both were solid hits in 1963. This is a highly rhythmic track, infectious and playful in a post Chuck Berry world.
Churning organ runs, calliope sensibilities, and pure joy. This disc broke the organ out of it's paradigm as a jazz-soul instrument and brought it squarely into rock 'n' roll. This is an utterly infectious wailin' organ instro that just can't be held down. Pumpin' screamin', and drivin' hard on the wind. If there's a single instro that embodies the rock and roll spirit, "The Happy Organ" is it. The production makes the organ sound very loud. Still hot after all these years.
Sax & Organ Rock (Instrumental)
The first of what would become their formula, public domain standards ominously rocked out with organ dominated evil sax instrumentals with great Dave Yorko guitar breaks. "Red River Rock" never sounded so cool! It was instro covers of public domain standards that originally influenced Paul Johnson, who used "Little Brown Jug" among others in the Belairs sets (and on disc).
"Raunchy" was written by Bill Justis and his guitarist Sidney Manker. It was originally titled "Backwoods." Among the luminaries at the session was Billy 'Flying Saucers Rock And Roll' Riley. It's an often covered swingin' fifties instro.
Lap Steel Pre Surf (Instrumental)
It doesn't get much more definitive than this. Sinewy slow dance classic, beautiful melody, covered endlessly and never as well. Simply a stunning song. Originally released in 1959, this is one of the great instro singles of the distant past, which featured, for the first time, the lap steel in a lead role (outside of country and Hawaiian). This slithery slowdance romancer was/is the prelude to a whole lotta whoopy. It is so very beautiful. Totally sweet guitar sounds.
Latin Jazz (Instrumental)
Everyone did this live. It was a big hit. Exotica bird calls, Latin horns, and an unfettered joy in the simplicity. The east LA bands especially got into it, and that meant that the surfers dug it too, 'cuz they were often seen grooving to the Rhythm Kings, the Soul Kings, the Charades, Cannibal and the Headhunters, and Thee Midnighters among others.
This is just about the lamest version of the Tornados' "Telstar" ever! Completely without edge and anything remotely resembling the grodie menace of Joe Meek's original production.
This track is the 1975 K-Tel session, recorded for a concept collection called Rebel Rouser. It is very different than the original is sound, closer to the Ventures' version in some ways. It is precise, well played, and very solid. It's also quite rare on vinyl. The other remake version still remaining unreleased is the eighties remake that was issued on a high compliance super-vinyl label. This is worth having, for sure.
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)
Billy Strange's "Second Line Limbo" is one infectious tune. It is incarnated via the Latin frill of the Champs for this entirely infectious 1962 hit. Except for the "la la la" chorus, this is delightful.
Pre Surf (Instrumental)
This is essential. The Ventures were one of the two bands that served as the model for early surf bands, the other being the Fireballs. This was their first single, and is an absolute standard. It was based on the early fifties Chet Atkins arrangement. This is their signature tune, a solid and enduring cover of Johnny Smith's jazz classic. Rhythmic, solid as a rock, and very warm with pre-surf whammy. Only the Pink Fairies' vocal version is better than this. Great classic pre surf.
"Walk, Don't Run" and "Perfidia" were recorded a year before there was such a thing as surf music. Totally vintage and majorly important to the birth of surf, this Ventures single is still their hallmark and best effort. Every collection requires this track.
This is the one. This is the song everyone thinks of with this band. It was cut originally as a theme for the Tom Shannon Show on Buffalo, New York's legendary WKBW, from whence came free form progenitors Tom Donahue, Bob Mitchell, and Peter Trip. This is growly, dark, evil, chunky, melodic, and features near-surf rhythm guitar behind a raw R&B sax. A great and necessary track.
Studio Rock (Instrumental)
This concept band has fun with Preston Epps' hit "Bongo Rock" in a big brash format. Thick and pretentious, yet endearing.
Another hit for the big guitar twangster. This one sports too many strings for my taste, but it is a splendid melody and was quite a hit. The liners say it "vaguely resembles the theme from Jeopardy." It was actually the theme from a 1960 film of the same name. Don Costa and friends wrote this pre-Al Caiola sounding film theme. Despite the syrupy strings, this has a magnetism that can suck you in. I can't say I've seen the film, but I can visualize this under the credits easily enough.
Ain't no surf here, and barely hot rod. It's melodic, fluid, and borders on MOR. "Wheels" is closer to the Norman Petty Trio than the Fireballs or Buddy Holly. It is a very pretty quasi rock piece with an infectious melody line and arrangement. It was a Billboard hit in 1960 on Warwick, the same label that brought us Johnny and the Hurricanes. It peaked at number 3. Not bad for a guitar instro. This is a Norman Petty composition.
Piano Rock (Instrumental)
The "Flight Of The Bumble Bee" is a perfect vehicle for B. Bumble and the Stingers to stretch out on. The great bass line barroom piano sound, and the gradual hypnotic development on the keys create an incredible experience. Completely infectious.
Rockabilly Boogie (Instrumental)
This was a monster hit for the Virtues in the fifties, and defined the already overcrowded rockabilly boogie field. The track has been stereo-ized, using a fake spread induced to create a rather effective illusion of a fairly modern and natural stereo. The performance is great. The guitarists are Frank Virtue and Jimmy Bruno.
Jungle Exotica (Instrumental)
Fluted whistling desert riffs, cool middle eastern scenery, but then this dreadful Korla Pandit organ (you know the kind, you've heard it in the mall piano and organ stores, a former shoe salesman in a tie sequencing notes with faux drama and too much Leslie). The line that comes to mind is from Jagger-Richard, "Give me shelter."