Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Surf Fictiondotdotdotdot
artworkThis is partially classic trax used in Pulp Fiction, and the rest extracted from the vaults of Del-Fi, MCA, and Gee-Dee. Except for the Looney Tunes, this is all first wave material. While there are many very fine, even essential trad surf tracks here, there's nothing that's not readily available in other forms.
Picks: Miserlou, Wipe Out, Baja, Desert Bound, Pipeline, Bullwinkle, Surf Rider, Point Panic, Runaway, Church Key, Impact, Wayward Nile, Ghost Train, Banzai Pipeline, Riders In The Sky, Mr. Moto, Let's Go Trippin', Waikiki Run, Move It, The Hearse

Track by Track Review


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.

Wipe Out dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Decca / Bud Dant rerecording of "Wipe Out," rerecorded due to the legal wrangling between Dot Records / Richard Delvy and the Surfaris. It has none of the character of the original, being softer and more controlled. Still, it's a fascinating glimpse into the world of surf recording.

Baja dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Baja" displays power of their trademark three guitar line up, and shows what a few weeks at RCA Hollywood could do. Actually, having said that, I'd really like to remix this. The lead guitar is too loud in the mix. Anyway, if there's a list of the ten most significant surf singles, this must be on it. Hazelwood had a knack for melody, and the Astronauts had a knack for the sound, and together, look out!

Desert Bound dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Desert Bound" is ominous, pure surf, with a fine melody, and a solid structure. This song stays with you after listening. It grumbles along, growling out Spanish influenced changes, and issuing forth the sounds of the surf...

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 glissandoes, first rhythm guitar dominance in the mix, and just plain essential.

Bullwinkle dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This unusual track was featured prominently in the cult film Pulp Fiction, which thrust this otherwise little know band into the frontal lobes of the American conscience. The track is oddly structured, and very cool. I like the rawness of the original better, but the sense of ensemble here leaves this to be the over all fave. For some reason, it opens with a motorcycle rev mixed with a lion's roar.

Surf Rider dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is what happens when a real surfband covers a Nokie Edwards (Ventures) tune that had no relation to surf as written. In fact, it started life as a Potato concept song called "Spudnik." This is the grand and beautiful song that runs under the ending credits of Pulp Fiction. This is the full length version, not the single edit.

Point Panic dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A-side of the follow up single to "Wipe Out." Great intro scream and tom toms. The fire in the bones of the band is clear here. High spirited, chunky, and rhythmic. Grand power glissandoes, and those wonderful Ron Wilson drums. Jim Pash's sax is most appropriate. Not often covered, but a really good tune.

Runaway dotdotdotdotdot
Teen Tragedy Surf (Instrumental)

The most surfy cover ever of Del Shannon's tune. Where the Belairs did it pretty strait, the Chantays really surfed it up with grand glissandoes and lots of spirit. Great track.

Church Key dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dave produced a unique arrangement of a song that was recorded by a bazillion instro bands, making it his own. I like it better than the original Revels version because of Dave's great double picking throughout matched exactly by his marvelous drummer. One of the better covers of the Revel's classic, and certainly the most surfy under it's original name.

Impact dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Cool tom-tom action, low down sax, and a simple progression on the guitar - sounds like an R&B number with reverb. Quite alluring.

Wayward Nile dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Pretty unusual Middle Eastern flavored tune with a definite Chantays edge. It's amazing how durable this track is. Shimmering and slightly exotic, with the classic Chantays sound.

Ghost Train dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Swanks' "Ghost Train" is amped up and dampened, while retaining the edge. Solid pounding surfabilly.

Banzai Pipeline dotdotdotdot
Beat Generation Surf (Instrumental)

When Henry Mancini named this, he undoubtedly was capitalizing on the surf trend du jour, but he gave it none of the hallmark characteristics of a surf instro, not the beat, the melody, or anything. When he recorded it, he gave it the big band sound he was famous for, and given it's Beat Generation structure, that was a perfect match. Undaunted, Boulder, Colorado's Astronauts used the classic surf instrumentation to recreate it into a surf classic, if only because of it's reputation as the first crossing into the MOR-Lounge venue for surf material. It's quirky, completely uncharacteristic of surf, but curiously endearing and catchy. A fun track, for sure.

Riders In The Sky dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The first truly surf version of Stan Jones' cowboy classic that had already been rocked out by the Ramrods. This version is still my favorite of all, save the insane EchoPlexed psychedelic rendition from Mexico's Los Babys. The glissandoes and piano are essential to making it work, and the resulting recording is totally infectious, and enhances any drive down an open road.

Mr. Moto dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Among the first bands labeled as a Surf Band, the Belairs first single (recorded in May 1961, three months before Dick Dale's first surf single) became a fixture of the set lists of nearly every surf band in the world. The Lively Ones took it a step further, playing with more speed and fire than anyone at the time. Great version. Quite intense.

Let's Go Trippin' dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

None of the immediacy of Dick Dale and the Del-tones. It's a good track, just not remarkable.

Waikiki Run dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The boy's first hit with "Wipe Out" and "Surfer Joe." Their follow up single was "Point Panic" c/w "Waikiki Run," the B-side of which is this track. It's a great tom tom surf rave. The manic island drums are splendid, and the brilliant blend of musical elements shows off the prowess of this mighty band.

Move It dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Chantays' "Move It" is a classic flip side... one of the best B-side melodies and concepts ever, but the rendition is hard to listen to. The version of this that truly rules is the live recording of the Spiedels. It's A-side is "Pipeline," the definitive surf instro. "Move It" is an infectious and playful ditty that emphasizes choked slides for a unique experience. The warbly almost tape-flutter mix is a difficult listen.

The Hearse dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of the GREAT surf tracks. It has plenty of flair, and it is infectious as Hell. It is from the pen of Lee Hazelwood, future partner of Nancy Sinatra. A MUST HAVE recording.