Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Surf Creature Volume 1dotdotdot
artworkVintage wonder from Romulan on vinyl only. Quality is pretty good. There's one vocal here, the Split Ends' "Endless Sea."
Picks: Blast Off, Night Creature, Brazil, Pink Elephants, Church Key, Intoxica, Boondocker, Bustin' Surfboards, Balboa Party, San Onofre, Surf Creature, Laguna Limbo Luau, Tarantula, Bandido, Seashore Flats, Heavies, A-Rab, Midnight Surf

Track by Track Review


Blast Off dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This 1959 track sports a cool guitar, choked and stroked into submission over a standard b-side beat. Infectious and very fun.

Night Creature dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A 1960 A-side in the Duane Eddy mold, right down to the rebel shouts and sax, though it's not Duane's tone. The lead sounds like it's half way between Eddy and surf. High energy spunky fun.

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.

Church Key dotdotdot
Leslie Surf (Instrumental)

The Biscaynes issued only two singles, and appeared on a couple of compilations. It is their backtrack that Doug Hume barfs over the top of. Their sound was lighter and Leslie organ oriented. Here, they give us their typical arrangement of "Church Key."

Intoxica dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Who was this guy? Neil Nissensen's only release (I think) is a cover of the over-recorded "Intoxica." It's a cool track.

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.

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.

Balboa Party dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Balboa Party" doesn't rise above the party... just a chord progression repeated endlessly under the band members making party noises. Aside from the teenage party crashing ethics, it's quite dismissible.

San Onofre dotdotdot
Whammy R&B (Instrumental)

There is precious little on CD from Bob Vaught & the Renegaids. Their gutty crude sound is displayed on "San Onofre." It's a cool R&B instro with whammy accents. I'm waiting for GNP to issue their album on CD - hey Neil, are you reading this?

Surf Creature dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track is a very moody vibrato laden monster with distant howling in the background. Bob Hafner aka R. (Robert) J. Hafner wrote numerous surf tunes. This is his only direct credit for performance. It's been covered, because it's mighty evil and mysterious. Great track.

Laguna Limbo Luau dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dave Myers and the Surftones present a slightly limbo luau ethic version of their Pachuko Soul side, with "Laguna Limbo Luau," a mighty fun party tune with Hawaiian overtones from extreme string bending or bottleneck.

Tarantula dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is Jody Reynolds' band. Their most familiar instro is "Thunder," which is a pretty straight Duane Eddy-Al Casey styled number. "Tarantula" is much more moody, with that same low-E guitar grumble and a nasty sax in the break. Excellent pre-surf from 1959

Bandido dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This was the B-side to "Cinnamon Cinder," and has long been a fave of mine among the quirkier stranger instros I like. It's great to finally hear this is stereo and cleanly captured. It is am R&B club number with enough surf edge to make the cut. It slithers and slides through your singles disco of the sixties dreams. Sly Stone could have done this when he first started playing live in '65 at the Bay Area theme clubs. It is tribal and primal. Cool, cult hit of tomorrow.

Seashore Flats dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The Frogmen's A-side is vibrato-laden and moody. It starts out slow, but doubles its pace with added screeching tires and screams. It's a very fifties kind of instro.

Heavies dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Rotations were Paul Buff and Dave Aerni. Paul Buff owned and operated Pal Studio, used by an ample number of Surf bands. Dave Aerni managed the Hollywood Tornadoes. Buff also recorded as the Hollywood Persuaders. Paul and Dave played all the instruments on the "Heavies" single included here. It's quite obscure, and unusually cool for a studio construct. This track, and the other side of the single appears on the Japanese CD The Cucamonga Years, which collects early works by Frank Zappa. Zappa is not on this track.

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.

Midnight Surf dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a soulful surf tune with a percussive opening and a smoothly suave progression on guitar against a very savvy sax. It flows with a stunning fluid Spanish feel. Totally great. I remember playing this to death on the record player when I was supposed to be doing homework.