Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Reef Madnessdotdotdot
artworkWith 24 tracks, some of which are really good, and a price lower than most, this CD comp is a good buy. There are some long awaited debuts here, and some really strong performances. The Space Cossacks and the Surf Kings are the best! It is an inconsistent compilation, from a recording quality standpoint, as well as from a performance and writing standpoint. The high points are really good, and the low points are just below OK, with the balance being in the upper quartile. All in all, a very good bet, with a high hit rate.
Picks: Agent: Raygun - Tsunami (The Perfect Wave), The Aquamen - Beans and Rice, The Berzerkers - El Scratches, Brazil 2001 - PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), Dirk Doom and the Overdrive Orchestra - Rocket Hijacker's Farewell Party, Jeff Hart and the Ruins - Theme From The Hollow Men, The Hollow Grinders - Repo Man, Kelp - Deadly Creature Below, Los Mel-tones - Rocket Sled To Oahu, The Mill Valley Taters - Flux Meditations, Pt 1, Monsters From The Surf - Mysterioso, Los Nachos - Beware the Wolf, Pollo Del Mar - Death Valley Daze, Slacktone - Tidal Wave, The Space Cossacks - Solaris Stomp, Squid Vicious - No, Mr. Bond. I Expect You To SURF!, The Supertones - Moonshot, The Surf Kings - J-Bay, The Torpedoes - Gunslinger, TyrskyKitarat - Tositarina, The X-Rayons - Cascade

Track by Track Review


Agent: Raygun - Tsunami (The Perfect Wave) dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Hmmm. Mostly lo-fi progression. There are cool things here, but a tighter performance and better recording would help. The fast pace saves it from the no-pick lot, but it's just so-so.

The Aquamen - Beans and Rice dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Big party instro, played at full tilt. It's rhythmic and fun, though I could do without the organ. They clearly had fun doing this, and it transcends the speakers.

The Berzerkers - El Scratches dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The studio outtake from their album sessions, this is one of those Dino tracks that oozes his surf-n-blues rockin' approach. I mixed this with Dino, but after capturing a great live version, he opted to not use this for his CD. I'm glad it appears here, because it is very good, and if you own both, you can contrast the live vs. studio arrangements and decide for yourself. Dino has always been able to fill all the corners of a tune by himself live. Great track.

Brazil 2001 - PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Brazilliant! Fellow instro recordist Jay Hector captured this quite live. B2K1 always deliver the goods. This is slowish and interesting, as it progresses down the road to the sunny coast on the left side of your map of the world. Bernard's big guitar sound is readily identifiable as they meander through this lazy day driving song. Great.

Dirk Doom and the Overdrive Orchestra - Rocket Hijacker's Farewell Party dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Effected guitar tones, big production drum sounds, almost bouzouki like riffs in some spots, and a dragged out chord progression. With enough textural changes, a lack of melody can be overcome, as is evidenced here. It holds interest despite it's repetitious nature.

Jeff Hart and the Ruins - Theme From The Hollow Men dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Cowboy instro-isms abound. Low growly E-string melody line. A pretty nice track. It has solid sound and is well put together. Simple, and the lap steel adds nice flavor to it. Cool.

The Hollow Grinders - Repo Man dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

New Zealand's only surf instro band at the moment, the Hollow Grinders have an edgy approach to surf. This track shows their chunk twangage just fine. The only other band that has done "Repo Man" that I'm aware of was an Agent Orange clone from Sunnyvale, California alternately called the Thrusters (not the Santa Cruz band) and Public Safety. This version is full and fun.

Kelp - Deadly Creature Below dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Santa Barbara's lone surf contingent delivers a fine surf tune. It's not their best by any means, yet it holds it's own here with some pretty stiff competition. This is a good band. This song is a bit repetitious, but quite listenable, and it has an intensity all it's own.

King Alcohol - Muchacho dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It fades in, it's badly recorded, it has little melody or surf feel, and the performance seems stilted and uneven.

Los Mel-tones - Rocket Sled To Oahu dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track is a rippin adventure. Speedy and melodic, with punchy damped guitar. Edgy surfisms. The rhythm guitar is heavy staccato, while the lead and organ trade off on the melodic line. Energetic.

The Mill Valley Taters - Flux Meditations, Pt 1 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A truly unique instro outfit from the East that employs drum machines. They are entertaining, and their music is pretty unusual. This is a cool mysterious spy-like tune with cool behind the bridge plucking here and there. Slow and moody and cool-for-cats.

Monsters From The Surf - Mysterioso dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Mid-fi capture of a low-down tune. Pretty powerful slow evilness. Solid performance. Very simple, twangy, and cool.

Los Nachos - Beware the Wolf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The UK contribution on the disc is pretty surfy, and the melody is pretty good, though minimal. It has a heavy rhythmic sound to it, and good damped rhythm guitar under the semi-distorted reverb twang of the lead. A nice track.

Pollo Del Mar - Death Valley Daze dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Among my favorite bands occupying the suburbs of surf, Pollo Del Mar deliver a wonderful Zappa-esq jazzy tune dripping in desert visions and surfy soundtrack possibilities. There are no other bands doing what their doing. They have a unique niche in the surf world. melodic and off beat themes are the norm for this most arty of surf bands.

Ritchie and the Cunninghams - Sector G-7 dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Awful band name, dreadful recording, and a really solid band buried beneath it all. Too bad. I'll bet they are great live, and would be good in a studio. This track pounds!

Slacktone - Tidal Wave dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Can you spell M-O-N-S-T-E-R? Dave Wronski is a major guitar hero, and there is no better surf drummer than Dusty Watson. This track completely abuses you before it's through, like a 1 second drop down a fifty foot face only to be placed gently on the beach. You should hear 'em do this live!

The Space Cossacks - Solaris Stomp dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the best track on this CD! It's rhythmic, pristine, chunky, spirited, and carries you right on down the road with no effort at all. Great melody and gorgeous guitar tones. If this is any indication of this band's prowess (and it is - I've heard DAT of several other great tracks), they are a band to be reckoned with. Killer!

Squid Vicious - No, Mr. Bond. I Expect You To SURF! dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Sampled intro from a James Bond film, natch! A simple melody, a cool and calm espionage feel, and ample twango. Bitchin' track. Oh for the release of a whole Squid Vicious CD by the real Squid Vicious (Ted is the REAL Squid Vicious!)... I have spoken!

The Sub-Mersions - George dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Almost free of anything that could be called melody. Mostly a progression. The balance of sounds is unnatural feeling. Maybe better production would help.

The Supertones - Moonshot dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Apollo Control voice track intros this fuzzy instro with the character of a cross between a light Davie Allan Tower single and the space singles issued 30 years ago. Entertaining and nicely written.

The Surf Kings - J-Bay dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Well, there are few bands on the scene that better span the times of surf than Tom Stanton's amazing Surf Kings. This whammy bar monster is moderately paced, infectious, and features Tom's signature writing style and guitar sound. Inspired to pick up the surf guitar after decades between his stint in the Crossfires and seeing the Mermen, Tom has been quietly creating a whole new sound. Stellar! This is the same track as on Reef Madness, but it has been dramatically enhanced.

The Torpedoes - Gunslinger dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Full throttle grind from San Francisco's punk-n-surf ragers. High energy super fast picking, punk edge, all at ninety miles an hour. Hot track.

TyrskyKitarat - Tositarina dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Nice surf of the gentle persuasion.

The X-Rayons - Cascade dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Cool rhythmic track, with a low-E dry guitar lead playing a simple melody line that fits perfectly with the backtrack for an infectious combination. Quite nice.