Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: The Sunrays: Vintage Raysdot
artworkThe Sunrays were mostly just another surf pop syrup band, made to sound as much like the Beach Boys as Murry Wilson could make them during his I hate my sons and they hate me period. This 3 CD box is well annotated by Stephan McParland of California Music Magazine. The first disc is all pre-Sunrays work from marginal to bad vinyl sources, the second is their album from the original masters, and the third is a collection of demos, propaganda, and sad '96 sessions. This being an instrumental website, I only reviewed disc one. In general, disc one is mastered from vinyl or copies of tapes, and the sound ranges from muddy to not too bad, with marginal original production. The notable exception is the Snow Men's "Ski Storm," which is a great tune, but from just so-so vinyl sources.
Picks: The Dirt Riders - Square Four, The Snow Men - Ski Storm - Part I, Ski Storm - Part II

Track by Track Review

The Dirt Riders - Wheel Stand dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Wheel Stand" is a riff rocker with a twangy guitar line and pumpin' drums. Its originality lies in the vibrato keys (?) add a cool effect. Gutty and fun.

The Dirt Riders - Square Four dotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

Maximum vibrato, and near surf meanness. The riff is cool, and the piano all vibratoed and throbbing. "Square Four" is a fine instro, but the muddy sound kinda hides it.

The Rangers - Mogul Monster dot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a direct rip-off The Wailers' "Shanghai'd," just a little bit faster. Frat rockin' Northwest style rock 'n' roll.

The Renegades - Sidewinder dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Sidewinder" is a riff rocker, with a nasty and muddy sax. Stinging whammy chords make it kinda cool! Preparing for a fight, but it's just a puff.

The Renegades - Renegade dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A bit of twang and some nifty piano, but mostly just honkin' drama and a sweaty R&B feel. Ominous for sure, but pretty murky. "Renegade" is a very primal track with a dark gutty sound. The stinging twango of the whammy chords in the middle add a jungle dimension to the sleazy sound of the song.

The Renegades - Six Eight Blues dot
Sax Blues (Instrumental)

"Six Eight Blues" is a slow tortured sax blues number - a sorta stroll through the ghetto.

The Renegades - Night Train dot
R&B (Instrumental)

This over-covered classic is not done justice in this mediocre unimaginative standard arrangement. Paul Revere & the Raiders, now there's a version of "Night Train!"

The Renegades - Surf Beat dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Chunky, but really muddy. The lead is buried so far under the mix that it might as well not be there. Dick Dale and his Del-tones' "Surf Beat" wit angst and energy, but neither finesse nor chemistry. Gutty and murky.

The Snow Men - Ski Storm - Part I dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Snow Men cut this single on for Kim Fowley who licensed it out to Challenge in 1963. "Ski Storm - Part I" is rhythmic and poundy, with a bitchin' riff and great energy. The drums rock, the piano is ultra cool, and the riff, while straight forward and simple, is very effective. Incidentally, the melody and basic arrangement of "Ski Storm," recorded in 1963, is identical (except for minor phrasing) to "No Man's Land" by France's Les Fantomes from 1962.

The Snow Men - Ski Storm - Part II dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Ski Storm - Part II" was the same track as "Ski Storm", but without the wind noise overdubbed. It was also called "Snow Storm." Much stronger this way.