Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Surf Drive (In Memoriam Bettie Page)dotdotdotdot
artworkThis is a superb set of music, and a lot of it is surf. It's an mp3 collection compiled in honor of the passing of cover girl icon Bettie Page. Most of these bands require your attention anyway, so if this is your entree into some of them, well, have at it!
Picks: John Barry - Goldfinger, Chuck Berry - Deep Feeling, Booker T. and the MG's - Time Is Tight, The Champs - Tequila, The Chantays - Pipeline, Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Miserlou, Duane Eddy - Rebel-Rouser, Preston Epps - Bongo Rock, The Jimi Hendrix Experience - 3rd Stone From The Sun, Jorgen Ingmann - Apache, The Islanders - The Enchanted Sea, Jefferson Airplane - Embryonic Journey, Bill Justis - Raunchy, Love - Emotions, Lonnie Mack - Memphis, Henry Mancini - Peter Gunn, The Marketts - Out Of Limits, Jack Nitzsche - The Lonely Surfer, Santo and Johnny - Sleep Walk, The Surfaris - Wipe Out, The T-Bones - No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In), The Tornados - Telstar, The Ventures - Walk, Don't Run, The Viscounts - Harlem Nocturne, Link Wray and his Raymen - Rumble

Track by Track Review


John Barry - Goldfinger dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the film score, with big guitar and that glorious melody line. John Barry's playing and arranging were well suited for spy music - practically invented it. Always a pleasure!

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Backtrack with effected guitar melody overdubbed. In a strange sorta way, the MOR sensibilities here are tweaked just a bit by the guitar in the same way that Buddy Merrill would have done it.

Chuck Berry - Deep Feeling dotdotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

"Deep Feeling" is a splendid slide guitar groover with a coastal blues sound. Very nice rolling honky tonk piano and a slow rhythm section slither beneath Chuck Berry's very smooth guitar. Goodness!

Booker T. and the MG's - Time Is Tight dotdotdot
Soul (Instrumental)

It's astounding how different the music scenes were by 1969 when "Time Is Tight" hit. Contrast Jimi Hendrix, the Other Half, and the Amboy Dukes to the classic unchanging sound of Booker T. and the MG's. It might as well have been 1962 in Memphis. Soulful groove and ultra cool hooks.

The Champs - Tequila dotdotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

This is their BIG HIT!. It is a sax based number that was probably the frat house standard, long before "Louie Louie" was. The spoken "Tequila" at the end of the lines has become a standard of Latin party rock. Very infectious.

The Chantays - 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 glissandos, first rhythm guitar dominance in the mix, and just plain essential.

Dick Dale and his Del-tones - 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.

Duane Eddy - Rebel-Rouser dotdotdotdot
Twang (Instrumental)

"Rebel-Rouser" set the formula for Duane Eddy's enduring success. It is a rousing instro with whoops and hollers, and a richly infectious sound. The melody is strong, and the guitar is dead center.

Preston Epps - Bongo Rock dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is a marvelous and fun classic rock 'n' roll single. The rhythm is totally infectious, and the simple melody line sticks in your memory cells despite any attempt to clear your head. This has almost nothing to do with surf music, though it was a staple among some of the bands. It predates the genre, and has no reverb at all. It is important for a couple of reasons. It was the first rock instro featuring the bongo drum as a central instrument, and it was the structure of this song that was one basis for the Surfaris' "Wipe Out."

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - 3rd Stone From The Sun dotdotdotdotdot
Psychedelic (Instrumental)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience's often referenced instrumental "3rd Stone From The Sun" contains the signature line "may you never hear surf music again," which is often mistaken for his dislike of the past sounds of guitar, but it sounds more like a threat to me, especially when you consider Jimi saw Dick dale several times and reportedly took some lessons from him. This is a masterwork!

Jorgen Ingmann - Apache dotdotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Around the world, it was Hank Marvin and the Shadows that hit with Jerry Lordan's tune in 1960. Everywhere except Denmark and the US, where Jorgen Ingmann ruled the charts with this exceptional track. It's my personal opinion that this is the quintessential version of "Apache." When will Atco reissue the album? Every surf band on earth played this tune in the early days of reverb.

The Islanders - The Enchanted Sea dotdotdotdot
Exotica (Instrumental)

"The Enchanted Sea" is a classic instrumental. That whistle, the water lapping at the shore, and that lovely melody line. I suppose this is part of exotica, but it features groovy tremolo guitar and a haunting sound. If you want to hear what a surf guitarist can do with this, check out Mel Waldorf on Drew Weaver's CD.

Jefferson Airplane - Embryonic Journey dotdotdotdot
Folk (Instrumental)

Jorma Kaukonen's wonderful finger picking is epitomized on this lush take of his "Embryonic Journey" from the second Jefferson Airplane album. It's Jorma's first recorded composition. Beautiful and superbly played.

Bill Justis - Raunchy dotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

"Raunchy" was written by Bill Justis and his guitarist Sidney Manker. It was originally titled "Backwoods." Among the luminaries at the session was Billy 'Flying Saucers Rock And Roll' Riley. It's an often covered swingin' fifties instro. "Raunchy" was originally titled "Backwards."

Love - Emotions dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one beautiful instro. The pace is measured and precise, the melody is splendid, the playing is pristine, and the band is magnificent. The lead guitar shimmers with vibrato over a really strong stereo backtrack, with the rhythm guitar also in vibrato. The two guitars pulse against each other during the intense breaks, and generally support each other splendidly. One great track.

Lonnie Mack - Memphis dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Like the Surfaris' "Wipe Out," "Memphis" and "Wham!" were recorded to consume twenty minutes of leftover studio time. Both were solid hits in 1963. This is a highly rhythmic track, infectious and playful in a post Chuck Berry world.

Henry Mancini - Peter Gunn dotdotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

This is one of Henry Mancini's signature instrumentals. Big, brash, and sporting that relentless rhythm riff. Totally cool even if you hate orchestral music. Plas Johnson's sax rips! So cool!

The Marketts - Out Of Limits dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the hit. It sports the great guitar work of Tommy Tedesco. It's infectious little riff was heard everywhere in the hey day of surf. It's quite a rock standard. This track blends surf with Joe Saraceno's orchestral thinking, guitars, French horns, and bells. Unlike almost all of the Marketts' tracks, this features the lead guitar as the lead instrument, and approximates real surf music. It is a studio session, with Tommy Tedesco on lead, but it rips right nicely. A classic surf hit.

Wes Montgomery - Shadow Of Your Smile dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Wes Montgomery more or less defines easy jazz guitar. "Shadow Of Your Smile" is an easy listening jazz piece that's just too smooth. Stereo percussion, lush strings, and ambiance.

Jack Nitzsche - 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.

Perez Prado and his Orchestra - Why Wait dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Why Wait" is the flip side of Perez Prado's most recognizable recording from 1958, the poppy "Patricia." It's much less interesting, and even more pop, or more precisely, more for an older audience. Pretty tame.

Santo and Johnny - Sleep Walk dotdotdotdot
Lap Steel Pre Surf (Instrumental)

It doesn't get much more definitive than this. Sinewy slow dance classic, beautiful melody, covered endlessly and never as well. Simply a stunning song. Originally released in 1959, this is one of the great instro singles of the distant past, which featured, for the first time, the lap steel in a lead role (outside of country and Hawaiian). This slithery slowdance romancer was/is the prelude to a whole lotta whoopee. It is so very beautiful. Totally sweet guitar sounds.

The Surfaris - 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.

The T-Bones - No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In) dotdotdot
Disco Surf (Instrumental)

Except for the seventies funk dry chop guitar, this is studio dribble as infectious as any commercial backtrack can be. It's the sort of track you love to hate, but find yourself whistling anyway.

The Tornados - Telstar dotdotdotdotdot
Space Rock (Instrumental)

This is it, the Tornados signature hit. Brilliantly filled with damped plucking, rhythmic churn, and whirring space. Joe Meek wrote this tune. It is utterly unique in the annals of rock. Meek was the UK master of thick completely filled sound, compressed until totally flat, and very cool. This 1962 release has been done by a bazillion surf bands. A must have for any serious instro fan. It is the Tornados signature tune.

The Ventures - Walk, Don't Run dotdotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is essential. The Ventures were one of the two bands that served as the model for early surf bands, the other being the Fireballs. This was their first single, and is an absolute standard. It was based on the early fifties Chet Atkins arrangement. This is their signature tune, a solid and enduring cover of Johnny Smith's jazz classic. Rhythmic, solid as a rock, and very warm with presurf whammy. Only the Pink Fairies' vocal version is better than this. Great classic pre surf.

"Walk, Don't Run" and "Perfidia" were recorded a year before there was such a thing as surf music. Totally vintage and majorly important to the birth of surf, this Ventures single is still their hallmark and best effort. Every collection requires this track.

The Viscounts - Harlem Nocturne dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Viscounts' spectacular 1959 hit was a cover of "Harlem Nocturne" was reissued again in 1960 and 1966 after selling out of the first pressing. It features the very intense and sultry sax of Harry Haller, which drives this track with the danger of a back alley. The throbbing vibrato guitar adds to the ominous sound. This is one magnificent track.

Kai Winding - More dotdotdot
Commercial Shimmer (Instrumental)

This is slick shimmering melodic guitar backed whistling organ music. It swept the charts after debuting in the 1963 film Mondo Cane as its theme. The guitar work here is Kenny Burrell's. These sessions were among the early Creed Taylor formulations before the launch of his soul jazz label CTI and hits like Deodato's "2001 - A Space Odyssey" which appeared in the extraordinary film Being There. Danish export Kai Winding played trombone in the forties with the big bands of Benny Goodman and Stan Kenton, among others. In 1962, he served as musical director at the NYC Playboy Club.

Link Wray and his Raymen - Rumble dotdotdotdotdot
Classic Dark Rock (Instrumental)

The original street gang record. This drips juvenile delinquency and chains and knives and broken bottles. It's the first evil rock instro. Very powerful after 40 years! Link Wray is the originator of lead guitar instros, of the ominous guitar sound, of the use of extreme sustain for danger, of the tribal thunder and drama under rock instros, of the gradually changing effects to impose a rising threat, as he does by increasing vibrato at the end of the track. This is a must have for any self-respecting rock instro fan, and a definite requirement to understand the foundation that was laid for the later surf bands.