Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Rock Instrumental Classics Volume 5: Surfdotdotdotdot
artworkThis disc of the multi-disc series features surf instros. It is a solid cross section of the more common tracks, and the foundation for the Surf Box. A great though slim intro to the genre. Excellent liner notes.
Picks: Pipeline, Mr. Moto, Wipe Out, Underwater, Miserlou, Diamond Head, Baja, Surfer's Stomp, Bustin' Surfboards, Penetration, Mr. Rebel, Fiberglass Jungle, K-39, Point Panic, Let's Go Trippin', Surf Rider, Soul Surfer, The Lonely Surfer

Track by Track Review


Pipeline dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is it. This track defined surf. It is the archetype! Paul Johnson once told me that when first heard this tune on his car radio, he said Whoa! Wha-at is THAT?, and pulled over to the side of the road to listen. The Chantays defined the classic surf line up, 2 guitars, piano, bass, and drums. Glorious first use of glissandoes, first rhythm guitar dominance in the mix, and just plain essential.

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!

Wipe Out dotdotdotdot
TV Surf (Instrumental)

"Wipe Out" is simply the definitive drummer's badge of courage. If he can do a decent "Wipe Out," he's hired. Simple, and written and recorded in just minutes, this is an international classic that has sold multimillions of copies, and still does every year worldwide.

Underwater dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Frogmen romp with "Underwater." It's very much a surf precursor, and important for that reason. Numerous of their tracks have appeared on various budget comps over the past few years.

Miserlou dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The introductory note of Miserlou is somehow bigger than life. Dick's machine gun staccato is perfect. This is Dick Dale's biggest Del-tone singles, the incredibly archetypal "Miserlou" featured so prominently in Pulp Fiction. No comprehensive Surf collection should even be conceived without this song. This IS the sound of primal surf, the source of the idea of really LOUD guitar leads. It's reported that the arrangement was developed after Dick saw Johnny Barakat do it this way.

Diamond Head dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Danny Hamilton's classic instro, and among the very few surf singles the Ventures issued. Classic.

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!

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.

Bustin' Surfboards dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Bustin' Surfboards" is one of the most recognizable of the tribal surf instros from the sixties. It's drum dominated raw sound was nothing short of magical when I first heard it on KRLA. This is one of the essential surf instros, a desert island must-have.

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.

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.

Fiberglass Jungle dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A gentle wave rippling at the shore chord opens to a totally ominous low-E grinder, with evil sax from the twins Kaplan-Volman a.k.a. Flo and Eddie, thundering bass from Chuck Portz, rhythmic tribal drums from Don Murray, and utterly incredible Al Nichol guitar work. This is a must-have surf MONSTER!

K-39 dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"K-39" is one of the best late Surf tracks. It is named after a Surf spot 39 kilometers south of the California-Mexico border. Hal Blaine's drumming is exquisite, and the melody is great. This is a true Surf classic, melodic, powerful, double picked joy!

Point Panic dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A-side of the follow up single to "Wipe Out." Great intro scream and tom toms. The fire in the bones of the band is clear here. High spirited, chunky, and rhythmic. Grand power glissandoes, and those wonderful Ron Wilson drums. Jim Pash's sax is most appropriate. Not often covered, but a really good tune.

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."

Surf Rider dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is what happens when a real surfband covers a Nokie Edwards (Ventures) tune that had no relation to surf as written. In fact, it started life as a Potato concept song called "Spudnik." This is the grand and beautiful song that runs under the ending credits of Pulp Fiction. This is the full length version, not the single edit.

Soul Surfer dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of those magical tracks that stands alone soundwise. "Soul Surfer" was written in the back seat of the car on the way to the studio. An afterthought of sorts, it became a classic in it's own time, being covered by contemporary bands. Johnny Fortune's melodic sense, combined with some flamenco and jazz influences to create a wholly unique sound. Highly melodic and magnetically rhythmic.

The Lonely Surfer dotdotdot
MOR Surf (Instrumental)

"The Lonely Surfer" is an enigma, hardly legit surf band fare, yet definitely a genre classic. It only charted at 39 on Billboard, but it is among the more recognizable and sophisticated surf standards. It's haunting moody and dramatic. The French horns are surreal, giving it a major pompous feel that somehow transcends the dismissibility of other similar works, like the "Surfers Stomp" Marketts sessions. Amazing.