Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Surfer's Mooddotdotdotdot
artworkSome tasty gems, some easily available on CD tracks, and some real obscuros. There are some tracks that make no sense at all including here, since they have been available from original session tapes on CD, some for a long time. A good cross section and a vital slab of otherwise unavailable.
Picks: Enchanted Surf, Green Surf, Teenage Express, Wandering, Surfers Mood, Nitemare, Tum-Tiki, Jungle Fever, Daybreak, Siboney, Opelia, 94 Second Surf, Moonlight, Surfin' With Vigor, High Wall, Big Surf

Track by Track Review

Enchanted Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Pagents deliver a softer surf tune, a riff based mid tempo tune with ringing slightly vibratoed chords beneath carried on electric piano. It's a nice tune, moody and pretty, not particularly memorable. The liners say this might have been a San Luis Obispo area band, but there's nothing to base that on provided.

Green Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

As common as rock instro versions of "Green Sleeves" is, surf instro covers are mighty rare. "Green Surf" is a moderately paced and relatively predictable cover, though it does use a pretty cool galloping beat, and the surf tones do add quite a bit of interest. The high note damped second verse is very Shadows like. The third verse uses notes played wit the volume down, then turned up and back down, which gives it a particularly string like effect. Excellent creative technique.

Teenage Express dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Teenage Express" sports wood dowel percussion. It's a beat generation rock instro from 1960, before the Belairs or Dick Dale laid surf chord to disc, before the opening of the Rendezvous Ballroom. It had the surf feel hiding in it's underbelly. The Expressos evolved into the Surfmen, and of course it is "Wandering" on the other side of the 45 that is the track this band re-recorded under their more famous latter day moniker. Unlike the other side, this track is a simple progression with a really thin lead guitar.

Wandering dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf Dirge (Instrumental)

The Expressos predated the Surfmen, who predated the Lively Ones. This is the first incarnation of "Paradise Cove," with the tom tom dirge beat and the whammy and the melody, but without the reverb. A dramatic and brooding surf funeral march. Given this is from 1960 and was the B-side of "Teenage Express," it's no surprise how surf developed its slower moodier side. This needs to come from a vault tape one day.

Surfers Mood dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Surfers Mood" owes it's existence to Link Wray's "Rumble," and as such is not particularly interesting. This is the B-side to the incredible "Surf Bunny."

Nitemare dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Damped surf, plucked infectiously in a mid tempo twang tune. The double picked parts scream for the breaks to be applied, but alas there is no relief. This is much like a merger between the Vydells and the Pyramids. Pretty cool.

Tum-Tiki dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Moaning tummy aches and dark growls accompany a cool reverbed surf line, while exotica jungle sounds filter through. It's a brooding piece from 1963 that clearly borrows from the Martin Denny influences that were everywhere. The melody is really cool. Is this about Alka-Seltzer in the jungle or Thor Heyerdahl's raft? Spoo-ooky! "Tum-Tiki" has a cold wind blowing throughout while a slow mean riff repeats, before a sax comes to the front with a nasty wail. Occasional double picking is used, but mostly this lumbers the haunted halls of POP. Lumbering over constant wind sounds like in the old black and white ghost stories, evil sax, dark brooding guitar tone. This track drags you into the haunted regions of your imagination. It is relentless and repetitious, based on a progression, devoid of melody, and very effective. It's interesting to note that the Tiki Tones covered it in the nineties.

Jungle Fever dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Jungle Fever" is the single studio version of "Surfing Drums." It is actually a cover of Bo Diddley's "Hush Your Mouth." It's a great glimpse into those long lost times in Balboa when Dick Dale was King and the big Surf sound was just dawning. It's too bad that it fades out during the drum solo, but I suspect it segues into some other tune. Dick performed it live in the early nineties as "Jungle Bunnies" with the same voiced calls.

Daybreak dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is titled for a train, with sounds of the train passing in the beginning. John Anderson's masterful writing is well worth a spin or nine. Excellent surf guitar damped chops and infectious rhythms.

Siboney dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Siboney is among the many exotica standards adopted by the surf bands. It's flamenco routes (Ernesto Lacuona) are obvious, and it's bull fight mariachi horns are very inviting. Like Herb Alpert would have like to sound. The rhythm is infectious, and the simple nature of the Spanish influences is most rewarding.

Opelia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

What a marvelously rhythmic surf track. The damped surf guitar, the driving rhythm, the minor key twang, it's all too cool. This has a rolling gate to it that is unmatched for infectious power and shear coolness. The melody is atypical of surf, more an R&B groove, but the delivery is pure California reverb. They were from Detroit I believe.

94 Second Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Just barely on the edges of surf, with it's R&B riff. OK, but of little interest.

Moonlight dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Jammin tune with hot rods and Kai Winding "Surf Bird" electronics. Faster, and energetic, but just a riff.

Surfin' With Vigor dotdotdot
R&B Surf (Instrumental)

This is an R&B progression, repeatedly repeated with great redundance, played on surf guitar and cheesy organ. The John F. Kennedy impression midstream uttering "Alright, let's try it once with with vee-gah" is very period. Fun, but not of much consequence. Issued as Kenny and the Friends and Kenny and the Sultans.

High Wall dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is just about as mean as they come. The Wailers' tune about a prison break over a "High Wall" is surfed into an even more dangerous and brooding place. The slow tortured pace and stinging whammy coupled with the vibratoed rhythm guitar give this an almost haunted feel. Exceptionally good.

Big Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is Pat Vegas (Avantis-Redbone) and company. A not very surfy slightly beat generation studio track.