Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA Collection: Surf Guitars Rumble - Vol. 3
|Another great set from the bootleg Surf label. They still haven't learned to restore the vinyl or master in mono, but that aside, there's a lot to get your ears around here, especially if you haven't gone too deeply into the vaults. You'll find a track with erroneous credits as before - The Illusions' "Bali Ha'i" is actually The Illusions' "Jezebel."|
Picks: Eddie and the Showmen - Movin', The Futuras - Mile Zero, Storm Surf, The Gestics - Rockin' Fury, The Illusions - Jezebel, The Irridescents - Swamp Surfer, Les Jaguars - Supersonic Twist, The Jesters - Drag Bike Boogie, Jim Messina and the Jesters - The Breeze and I, A-Rab, Strange Man, The Mockers - Madalena, Children Of The Sun, The Nobles - Jaguar, Black Widow, The Novas - Take 7, Danny Steel and Hank Farrell and his Rhythm Boys - Chinese Twist, The Rangers - Mogul Monster, The Ric-A-Shays - Turn On, Groovy, The Road Runners - Road Runnah, Quasimoto, The Safaris - Kick Out, Lonely Surf Guitar, Gene Sikora - Green Bay Picker, Marlowe Stewart and the Illusions - Earthquake!, The Thundermen - Thunderbeat, The Tremolos - The Weird One, The Truants - The Truant
Track by Track Review
Eddie and the Showmen - Movin'
Third single, and easily the best cover of this Lee Hazelwood tune. Lots' of sparks fly from Eddie's quick fingers.
Echoed rockabilly styled crude surf, with no melody, but a serviceable progression and a lot of energy. The raging drums are the most interesting part of the track, though the guitar break fits the genre better than the main body of the tune.
"Storm Surf" is a very easy going song with island guitar and waves gently crashing on the shore. Pretty and shimmering with tremolo charm.
The Gestics - Rockin' Fury
"Rockin' Fury" is pure primitive reverb fury. Aurally, the band reminds me of the Spiedles, but a little tighter. The tune is more a jam than a song, yet it is totally infectious with its drive and splashiness. Very cool.
The Illusions were one mean sounding surf band! "Jezebel" totally pummels the living effluent out of you. Low-E menacing staccato powerhouse! Need I say more? Drummer Tom Brown wound up later in the Wedge. John Blair says that Tom told him this track was recorded with a single mic... yikes!
This amazing version of the Frankie Lane classic is mimicked almost exactly by Mark Brodie and the Beaver Patrol.
The Irridescents - Swamp Surfer
"Swamp Surfer" is a low key thing with some tasteful guitar twang. It's pace is lazy for surf, fast for swamp. The melody riff is easy going and the whammy chords all island surfy.
Les Jaguars - Supersonic Twist
Monkeying with pickslides up and down the neck to simulate jets, "Supersonic Twist" eventually yields to a riff rocker essentially based on Little Richards' "Lucille." The frantic echoed break sets it apart.
The Jesters - Drag Bike Boogie
This is a spunky riffin' boogie with reverb twang and grumbling bass. More surfable than most boogies, it has a certain catchiness despite its repetitious nature and minimal sound. With crude almost demo sound, "Drag Bike Boogie" is a grunt of a boogie with splashy overdriven guitar and a crunchy attack. Not as surfy as many of his sides.
Jim Messina and the Jesters - The Breeze and I
A double picked fiery lead accompanied by a dry second guitar and a thumpy bass and drums. Strong delivery, with a thick sound. This track wails, with a fast delivery and plenty of energy.
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.
Jim Messina and the Jesters - Strange Man
Strange is right. Launching from a variation on the Twilight Zone intro notes, this track visually screams "weird." It is somewhat like a cross between the Rumblers' "Boss" and the Rod Serling classic television show. It's not complicated at all, but is quite attractive, in a curiosity way. It also has a lasting effect, and stands up to repeated listenings. Quite unusual.
Great grimy intense reverb renders this track oh-so surf! Real basic, and all about the liquidy outboard splash. For such an unremarkable melody, "Madalena" sure is a cruncher. Great stuff!
The Mockers - Children Of The Sun
The Mockers issued this single B-side in the US in April '65. It's a heavily vibratoed instrumental. Vibrato low-E lead lines, slow melody, lightweight rhythm and really nice arranging create a fine easy instro. The chorus in unnecessary, but the track works really well. It's also available on the CD.
Great electric piano vibrates against nasty sax and great drums in this murky little single. Not even a little melodic, yet pretty tuff and driven.
This surf obscuro sports a lead guitar that's buried pretty far in a somewhat murky mix. Too bad too, because, while this is pretty simple, it's actually quite infectious. There's lots of energy and great drums rolling and rocking throughout.
This is the B-side to the Novas' incredible single "The Crusher." It's a basic progression, but somehow has long held a place in my heart. It is pure landlocked surf, thrashing and raving with reverb and thunder. The drums are almost lost in the mix, but it all seems to work.
Danny Steel and Hank Farrell and his Rhythm Boys - Chinese Twist
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.
The Rangers - Mogul Monster
This is a direct rip-off from another instro I can't quite place. Frat rockin' Northwest style rock 'n' roll.
The Ric-A-Shays - Turn On
Thrashy rhythmic and drum powered, "Turn On" is a high energy number with a throbbing bass line and raging drums, as well as speedy double pick guitar work. Rockin' drums and splashy chords in a hard driving performance with some double picking. The sound and style are not surf, but some guitar licks are. Quite interesting.
The Ric-A-Shays - Groovy
Surfie Midwest style tune. A bit reminiscent of Gene Gray & his Stingrays stylistically, but not as vital or edgy.
The Road Runners - Road Runnah
Hot Rod Surf (Instrumental)
The single A-side (B-side was "Quasimoto"), this track ended up on the London Records release of the Pyramids' album. It does not appear on the original Best Records release, and bears no similarity in playing or style to the Pyramids. OK, so that's not a slam, just a clarification. This track rules! It's hot, "Pipeline" like, and fiery. It may be a bit obscure, but it's a great track!
The Road Runners - Quasimoto
The other side of the Road Runners single that appeared as a track on the London Records (and Sundazed CD) version of the Pyramids' album. This is the better track, heavily inspired by "Pipeline," but faster, more furious, and more manic. I always thought that some band with a lick of creativity should make a medley out "Pipeline" / "Quasimoto" / "Road Runnah" / "Pipeline." Anyway, this is a really good track, worth the price of admission all by itself. Pure surf from a sincere and lost band.
Strongly influenced by the Surfaris' "Wipe Out," this track is infectious and tight, and driven pretty hard. While structurally derivative, "Kick Out" is a way fun surf obscuro worth searching out.
The Safaris - Lonely Surf Guitar
"Lonely Surf Guitar" is moody, slow, vibrato throbbed, and dramatic. It has a sadness as well as a fear about it, like impending doom at the hands of the sea. Very melodic and inspired. The sounds of the surf lap at its heels.
Gene Sikora - Green Bay Picker
Heavily echoed guitar, heavily damped, and played against a soft backtrack. Kind of a guitar boogie, maybe a little like Chet Atkins. Pretty interesting.
Marlowe Stewart and the Illusions - Earthquake!
With a stormy intensity, this churns out a warning to all who ride the curl on the coast. It's somewhat dangerous, and yet not hazardous. What's fascinating about this is that it's so poorly recorded, yet such a great song. Jon and the Nightriders really made this sing! A solid track.
The Thundermen - Thunderbeat
Midwest Surf Twango (Instrumental)
Midwest heavy vibrato twang with a twinge of surf. More or less the stuff of a riff rockin' jam, yet with enough angst and edge and ultra cool low-E vibrato to keep it from getting boring.
The Tremolos - The Weird One
This is an odd track, based loosely around The Tornadoes "Bustin' Surfboards," but with a much lighter sound. Like that song, the delay on the lead guitar is via tape echo, but the playing is often muted and very delicate. I'm quite sure it was also done as part of one of those dreadful Mr. Gasser type albums.
One of the often mentioned obscuros. This progression based ripper features blinding pick action. It sports a major helping of high energy machine gun delivery.