Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Strummin' Mental Volume 1dotdotdot
artworkVolume 1 of the original vinyl series sports a healthy helping of surfable primitivos!
Picks: Blow Out, Sinner, Curfew, Stampede, Blue Surf, Weird One, Geronimo, Dracula, Night Ride, Let's Move, Echo Express, Exotic, Conjagua, Madness, Tremble, Danger, Troubled Streets, Purple Crackle, Space Walk

Track by Track Review


Blow Out dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one trashy and intense near-surf rocker, with a jam basis and hard driving energy. The band is less than tight, and the drums amateurish, but the honesty of the assault comes through. No melody, just bash and crash and thrash.

Sinner dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a funny sorta tune, with a simple riff with surf whammy ends, and half the melody from "Wild Goose" slammed together to create a new tune. Quite surfy, with Crossfires styled horns in the break. It's a pretty cool surf obscuro, infectious in it's own right despite it's derivative nature.

Curfew dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a vibrato thrashed primitive intro, with a ton of intensity and real chunk. It is ragged and raw, well defined, and riff based. It could easily be surfed up, but the melody line would need to be enhanced into something memorable, because the progression alone isn't enough.

Stampede dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Here it is, boys and girls. The original thrash out that's been covered by so many of the modern rockabilly / psychobilly bands. It's echoed, reverbed, piano tinkled, and a bit too muddy, but it certainly carries the energy, and it's easy to hear why so many have covered it. High energy, infectious progressions, cool pomp-n-stomp' tribal drums, raw sax, and throbbing bass. It's all here.

Blue Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a raw and intense surf romp. It's not very well cut, but it has plenty of surf feel in the way the Hollywood Tornadoes had it, with echo instead of reverb. Nice track.

Weird One dot
Rock (Instrumental)

Chilly laughs and weirdness launch this vibrato riff rocker. A one note break and an ultra minimalist riff. Miles from melodic, "Weird One" is interesting only for its historical value, which is not large. Completely dismissible.

Geronimo dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This 1959 track came out of the same Hollywood studio regulars that were the Gamblers and so many others. Nick Venet (before becoming a famous session producer) , Sandy Nelson (while he still had two feet), Bruce Johnston (before joining the Beach Boys to replace David Marks) and Richie Podolor (before being Richie Allen and the Pacific Surfers, the Devons, the Super Stocks, the Ghouls, before engineering for Ed Cobb at the Chocolate Watchband sessions, and before producing Steppenwolf and founding American Recording). It's a perfect upper Midwest buffalo bop styled instro... a basic riff and lots of Indian stereo types... whoops and hollers, gun shots, and dull cries of "Geronimo" Very fun. "Geronimo" was included in the soundtrack to "The Ghost Of Dragstrip Hollow."

Dracula dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Great reverb kick opening, ultra reverb guitars, Link Wray "Rumble" lead lines, thundering rhythm guitar... it may be badly recorded, with the bass and drums almost missing, but it's quite tribal and intense. The boys shout it out while they rave up. The reverb kicks are the best part.

Night Ride dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Night Ride" sports a minimal riff and barely competent performance, with manic drums just barely on. Probably a firehouse live at frat parties, but on vinyl, it merely rocks in a very garage fashion. There were several bands called the Invaders, and I don't know which this is.

Let's Move dotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

"Let's Move" is a blues jam with a tuff guitar and moderate beat. While it's much more jam than song, it's also very representative of (probably) black R&B b-sides when the guitar was king. Cool, but way too little melody.

Echo Express dotdotdotdot
Primeval Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is one penetrating guitar instro. The lead guitar uses tape echo and a fast decay to create an intense stinging tone. There's little to call a melody, mostly just a riff, but man-o-man is this powerful. It's a natural for a surf treatment.

Exotic dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Bob Vaught's band had a pretty dry sound, but they did some really cool surf stuff, most notably, the best recording of "Surfin' Tragedy." This song started life by the Sentinals in that horn-lead Pachuko soul style of the Soul Kings and the Rhythm Kings... sort of Mariachi R&B. The Sentinals recorded it with Tommy Nunes' guitar lead, and this is a cover of that. It is interesting, but not Bob's best work, or the best version of the song in either style. This is a driving treatment of Bruce Morgan' tune, completely different from the powerful-gorgeous Sentinals treatment. This is raw in your face garage surf.

Conjagua dotdotdot
Surf Twang (Instrumental)

Throbbing vibrato and a garage primitivity that makes "Conjagua" attractive in an archival sense. Surf twang with an overused lick. I wish the sound was better.

Madness dotdotdotdot
Primitive Rock (Instrumental)

Most of Bob Vidone's instrumentals are rough rockin' monsters with a raw and primal appeal. masked by the crude recording, they none the less shine through the murk of the indistinct engineering to deliver the essence of early rock 'n' roll the way it was practiced in small town America during the late fifties. "Madness" is not very melodic, but it is pretty darn intense. It was released as by Bob Vidone and the Rhythm Rockers and as by the (Original) Rhythm Rockers.

Tremble dotdotdotdot
Primitive Rock (Instrumental)

Groovin' echoed riff rock from the back rooms of Link Wray's shadow. It is decidedly influenced by the man, but also has a unique sound created by carefully set EchoPlex ins-n-outs which swell to saturation and fall to subtle in time with the drama of the music. Quite inventive.

Danger dot
Primitive Rock (Instrumental)

Primitive small band rock jammin' without a melody. Just a progression and a bunch of yellin', amped by a sax, pumpin' bass, and ragin' drums. All that energy and nowhere to go!

Troubled Streets dotdotdot
Primitive Rock (Instrumental)

With more than a twinkle aimed at Link Wray, "Troubled Streets" sports slow throbbing vibrato guitar over a walking bass line and murky sound. The faster break is almost pre surf. It may be quite derivative, but it's cool anyway.

Purple Crackle dotdot
Primitive Riff Rock (Instrumental)

Riff rock jam based jumpin' party jive, and nothing more. Not a lick of originality, just energy and abandon, though the long vibrato notes in the break are pretty darn cool.

Space Walk dotdotdot
Primitive Space Fuzz (Instrumental)

Primitive fuzz and tribal drums, along with cheesy organ, creates a nasty sound of '65 (probably). "Space Walk" sports a simple riff, but in this format, it seems quite enough. Heavy, dark, throbbing, and dangerous!