Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Surfin' In The Midwest [Land Of The Ho-Dads]dotdotdotdot
artworkThis is one amazing collection of landlocked surf from the great creative Midwest. There are numerous tracks here that appear nowhere else, and some that are so essential as to require ownership. The artwork is stellar, and the liners provide ample data on the artists. Obviously a labor of love by a real fan, not just a collector. A must have. Unfortunately, this has been out of print for a decade, but there are rumors of a CD version coming soon.
Picks: One Pink Box (One Pine Box), Minor Chaos, Misirlou, Surf Fever, Wail It, Journey To Infinity, Moon Race, 80 Foot Wave, 007, Surfin' Thunder, Count Dracula, Surfers Lullaby

Track by Track Review


One Pink Box (One Pine Box) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A great rhythmic surf instro with a start-stop transition between verses interrupted by the sound of hammering, presumably driving nails into a coffin. The Royal Flairs were from Council Bluffs, Iowa, and played extensively throughout the area, appearing frequently in Omaha, Nebraska. The title is actually "One Pine Box," but the original issue had a misprint on the label. It ends with a hammering and a blow to the thumb followed by "Ouch!." A cool surf obscuro from 1966.

Minor Chaos dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This 1964 release is one of the GREAT surf obscuros. The Treasures called Fargo, North Dakota home, and shunned the surf label, seeing it as limiting. They employed Gretch hollow body guitars for a more gutty sound. "Minor Chaos" is melodic, powerful, and rhythmic. The drums are spectacular, and the melody is strong. This is an essential surf monster. This is credited to Treasures guitarist Paul Hubbard, but the Steve Rowe and the Furys release of the same song credits Steve Rowe as the writer. It's a surf instro who done it. Paul says they co-wrote it, and it developed in various bands they both shared.

Misirlou dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Duluth, Minnesota's Emotionals recorded this hot version of "Misirlou" comes from the B-side of a 1967 single. It's fiery, powerful, and highly energetic. One of the great vintage recordings of this classic, and most unusual given it's late recording date.

Surf Fever dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Shattoes recorded this spunky surf monster in '65. "Surf Fever" is a fast, hot instro, based on a riff/progression that is sure to please.

Wail It dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This 1964 track is pristine, and features damped lead lines. It's melodic, catchy, and chunky. The Rumbles hailed from Council Bluffs, Iowa. Totally bitchin trad surf.

Journey To Infinity dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This was recorded in Kansas City in 1965. It sports a changing tempo, a haunting sound, and a basic riff in the classic "Surf Beat" style, with a gutty guitar sound. Nothing is known about the band.

Moon Race dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Moon Race" is very infectious, and sports great finger squeals on the guitar. It totally rocks and captures your surf imagination. Among the midwest obscuros, it's one of the essential tracks. A totally magical track. This stellar surf instro has amazingly good sound when you consider it was cut in an someone's attic.

80 Foot Wave dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With a "Have Love Will Travel" melody, this super obscure track is not very surfy sounding, but it is quite good, with it's gutty guitar and solid rhythm. It was recorded in 1964.

007 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track is most unusual, featuring a dry chord lead guitar over a heavily reverbed damped single note rhythm guitar - just the reverse of tradition. It's mostly a progression, but the oddness of the arrangement is magnetic. Cool

Surfin' Thunder dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is not the New York session band the Trade Winds who did "New York's A Lonely Town." This is a hot surf act from Omaha, Nebraska. This was recorded in 1963. It's mostly a riff, but it is heavy and chunky and surfy. It is said that the Tradewinds moved to Denver, where they regularly blew the Astronauts off stage, even when covering their material. This track doesn't demonstrate that. It is a basic rhythm progression, some vocal "ah"'s, some thunder, and you have a trite formula for a single B-side. Not memorable.

Count Dracula dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Good evening! My name is Count Dracula. Ha Ha Ha." So opens the disc, with an echoed voice in that familiar Bela Lagosi accent. The track features a heavily vibratoed lead, and a simple progression melody line. Nothing special. This was recorded in 1963 in a basement in Topeka, Kansas.

Surfers Lullaby dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a beautiful surf instro, with gentle waves, and a very simple but effective melody, played pristinely on the high-E. It is completely infectious, and remains on my fave list after many decades. The Titans were from Duluth, Minnesota, where they held sway over the throngs in the mid sixties. This was recorded in 1964.