Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: The Surf Creaturedotdotdotdot
artworkThis CD compilation of tracks from the three vinyl volumes includes some mighty fine stuff. Aside from the fact that it is a bootleg all from vinyl sources, it's a definite must have for fans of the more obscure surf instros. Plenty of these tracks are legendary. The liners are sometimes helpful, sometimes inaccurate, but always fun to read.
Picks: The Fifth Dimension, Brazil, Pink Elephants, Boondocker, A-Rab, Shockwave, Bathsheba, Woody Wagon, Outer Limits, Body Surf, Sunset Surf, Golash, Chinese Twist, Space Needle, Gear, Russian Roulette, Hand Full Of Blood, Big Noise From Makaha, Surfin' Elephant, Repeto, Earthquake, Jericho Rock, Blast Off, Avalanche, Everybody Up

Track by Track Review


The Fifth Dimension dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of those grand mysteries. The source is an acetate or test pressing with only the title, so the band remains unidentified. It's a fine track, like a much moodier "Out Of Limits" with a more dissonant and dangerous sound. Progression based, yet interesting and engaging.

Brazil dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a fifties styled "rockin' cricket" kinda tune. The sound is dry, not surf, but the style allows a good fit anyway. The band was from Sioux City, Iowa. The sound is not unlike many of the Midwest instros of the period. It's always interesting to hear what bands do with standards, especially when they can make them work well. Very cool.

Pink Elephants dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This 1965 single is not a surf track by any stretch of the imagination. It's a Dartells inspired tune, using the organ as the lead instrument in a disco chord progression a la Joey Dee & the Starlighters. The sounds of the band's prowess are not evident here, though the single was well received at KYNO and other California top forty stations. Fresno's wonderful go-go cover band Jim Doval & the Gauchos were that ultra rarity in the early sixties, a band that feature two drummers for a thick rhythmic sound. They released a fine album of period stuff on ABC Paramount recorded live at The Party, a Fresno night spot. This single got considerable airplay in the Central Valley where Jim Doval's band were very popular. They normally covered material ranging from "La Bamba" and "Oh Pretty Woman" to "Peanuts," "Little Latin Lupe Lu" and "Angelito," as well as originals like "I'm A Man," "Please Let Me Know," and "Annie Ya Ya." Jim Doval & the Gauchos were Jim Doval - vocals/organ/guitar, Al Hernandez - guitar, Al Lopez - sax, Joe Silva - bass, and Marty Murilly and Kelly Smith - drums. They were a band to reckon with.

Boondocker dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a marvelous surf single. The sound is heavily damped reverb rhythms with solid open surf leads. Thumpy and pure primal surf from lanklocked teenagers. This has long been a fave. Very cool.

A-Rab dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This single has long languished in the Goodwill bins. Jim Messina has been quoted as disliking the work he died with the Jesters, but I find it fascinating. The meter is rough, but the energy is spectacular and the melodies are quite unusual. This is a solid surf number, middle eastern influenced, though the Spanish feel is actually more prominent. It may not be well recorded, but it is fresh and intense, and uniquely Jim Messina in structure and approach. It's nothing like his Buffalo Springfield or Loggins & Messina work. Rhythmic and double pick extra swell surfology. Gotta dig the man.

Ownership of these masters is currently in the courts following the death of the original owner. Given enough time for the lawyers to drain the royalties dry, they should eventually see the light of day from the original tapes, since they all still exist and Jim Messina is a recognized name and the Jesters are an often covered band these days. From 1964.

Shockwave dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a cool tune. The organ comes in notably late in it's first note, but the extended reverb kicks are too cool, and the reverb lead is quite nice. The melody is friendly and fun. This tune is infectious and seems to stay with you. It stands up to multiple listenings. The label was Golden State Recorders, a San Francisco based label run by the legendary Leo de gar Kulka. I don't know if they were locals or just came to the city to record.

Bathsheba dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track has an unusual use of the horn in the lead role of the middle eastern theme, with dry surf guitar picking, and warm whammy in the break. It's sultry and stylish.

Woody Wagon dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of the great bands was Manuel and the Renegades. They were a Mexican band from Southern California with an astoundingly mean surf-rod sound. Their most famous single was "Rev Up." This was a follow up single. As you can tell from the track, they had power and they screamed and pounded their way through songs. Very chunky and super cool. Manuel Rodriquez and his brother Jose were the guitar assault of the band.

Outer Limits dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With almost "Boondocker" rhythm guitar work, warbly leads and behind the bridge notes permeating the track, this stands out as one of the most unusual surf releases. It's ominous and weird, and surfing aliens written all over it. Too cool!

Body Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Body Surf" a boogie progression over a surf beat with chunky rhythms. It's not their best recording, yet it has a certain draw that makes it work really well. It's is a lesser tune from the album, fairly dry, simple progression based and quite rhythmic.

Sunset Surf dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Truants were a Redlands, California band. This single sports an intense throbbing vibratoed lead guitar playing a very slow and mean melody. This is like an evil version of the Viscounts without the sax. Dark, brooding, and down right cool.

Golash dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Fullerton's Intrepids were quite obscure. This track is a splendid example of the power of simple riffs and reverb. It's infectious, rhythmic, and way fun. It's loaded with drama and danger, as well as surf majesty. The Surf Raiders covered this in the early eighties.

Chinese Twist dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track is quite an unusual track from the east coast. The lead guitar is a lap steel. The style is slightly surf, slightly bison bop, and mostly growlingly mean. It's infectious and very fun. It's not very "Chinese," but it is exotic.

Space Needle dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track has been around on many comps. It's more a Midwest instro style than surf, yet it has lots of surf feel. It's rhythmic and is injected with "space" sound effects. The lead guitar fills with many chords and chops to avoid gaps. It's somewhat like the Breakers' "Jetstream."

Gear dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is my favorite Dave Myers and the Surftones track. It's unusual drum cadence and melody are brilliant and infectious, and this recording shows just how powerful really good meter is in a double picked guitar. Dick Dale says it is among the most important elements. The precision of the meter allows Dave to play slow dribbly glissandoes that are simply gorgeous. A must-have track from 1963 on Wickwire.

Russian Roulette dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the "hit" version, and was a single by the Teen-Beats originally recorded under the title "Surf Bound." This early version is more primal, and way better than any vinyl issue for clarity and purity. Great.

Hand Full Of Blood dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

An Illinois label issued this. It has a much more surf sound than "Space Needle," so it is very likely not the same band at all. There are behind the bridge fills, tribal drums, eerie guitar leads, and a cool rhythmic second guitar. A fine track, exotic and most unusual.

Big Noise From Makaha dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This obscuro on a Riverside label is pure surf, in the garage vein. It's mean sax break hints of Steve Douglas. The guitars reverb away with deep spring action. Yikes! "Big Noise From Makaha" is a surfization of "Big Noise From Winnetka."

Surfin' Elephant dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a playful and highly rhythmic mid tempo number that brings a smile to the face. It shows off tight meter and synchronization. It makes you wanna move. The Surf Raiders covered this in the early eighties.

Repeto dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the 1964 original (there are two updates from 1997 and 2000), with sax lead and great vintage surf rage. It is a really solid single, played with plenty of energy and teenage exuberance. The melody is solid, the energy good, and even under a bad mix, with the bass too hot, and the sax too loud, this is one fine tune. ItŐs played with plenty of energy and teenage exuberance.

Earthquake dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This fine tune was covered by the Surfaris. It is mean and vibrato laden, and uses echoplex string swipes to simulate the same sorts of sounds they used when they covered "Moon Dawg." It's a very rhythmic track, full of body and power. This band's output on Vee Jay should be released!

Jericho Rock dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A solid surf variation on the biblical tune. This works really well, while it also has a silly air to it. Almost any melodic piece can be surfed up. They do a fine job with the song, playing fast and using lots of chunka-chunka and rolling raging drums.

Blast Off dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a spiffy garagie and mean surf single, with excellent lead work and a flying melody line. Lots of reasons to like this. Thrashing rolling drums, a solid bass line, and that great surf lead. Infectious!

Avalanche dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Is this one of the versions of the Handful of Fives et al with Skip and Terry Hand who were also part of the Eddie and the Showmen legacy? Doesn't matter I guess. It's fast, furious, pure surf madness, with a wailin' sax in a few verses under the lead guitar. Great picking and fiery attack.

Everybody Up dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

From the first drum beat of the intro, this track shreds. The beat is strong, the rhythm infectious, and the melody incredibly good. There are few surf instros that compare to the power and energy of this magical track. Exceptionally good playing, and magnificently strong writing. The glissandoes grab and shake you, leaving you spent when it's over.