Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
|Rhino issued this album back in '89. The cassette and vinyl versions held 12 tracks, while the CD was pumped up to 18. 11 instros are accompanied by seven classic beach pop vocals, from "Surfin' Safari" and "Surfer Joe," to "New York's A Lonely Town" and "Surfin' Bird." |
As these things go, this is not a bad starting point to learn about surf on the charts.
Picks: Wipe Out, Pipeline, Miserlou, Out Of Limits, Surf Rider, Penetration, Let's Go Trippin', Mr. Moto, Boss, Surfer's Stomp, The Lonely Surfer
Track by Track Review
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is what happens when a real surf band 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." It is the short fade-out length version, and in mono.
One of a handful of nationally successful surf single, this track has been covered more than "Miserlou," and in more varieties of rock styles. If you don't own this track, you have entered the surf idiom yet. This is one of the essential classics. The production is unusual and masterful, and the melody is simple and enduring. It spawned hundreds of covers, and is still quite infectious.
Dick Dale's August 1961 recording of "Let's Go Trippin'" is ahead of the surf sound, more a rock 'n' roll number than what would be later identified as surf. It is nevertheless a very important key to the development of the genre.
Dick's original Del-tones were a hell of a band. This session featured a seasoned Barry Rillera on sax, who had been in his brother Ricky Rillera's band the Rhythm Rockers (no relation to the surfband of that name), with whom Richard Berry had sung for over a year at Harmony Park between 1954 and 1955. It was at Harmony Park one Saturday night in 1955 that Richard heard them do Rene Touzet's "El Loco Cha Cha" for the first time, and was inspired by it's "duh duh duh, duh-duh" intro to write "Louie Louie."
This is it, their claim to fame, their most familiar song, and the first surf release from May 1961 on Arvee Records. "Mr. Moto" is just about the most influential surf instro ever. "Mr. Moto" came to be a surf classic, and was recorded and released months before Dick Dale's "Let's Go Trippin'," before he opened the Rendezvous Ballroom, and before it was called surf. If you must draw a line in the sand, it must be drawn here. "Mr. Moto" was recorded at Liberty.
Covered by countless others, this song features 15 year olds Paul Johnson and Eddie Bertrand trading guitar parts in their trademark style on a prototypical PJ writing masterpiece. Jim Roberts' piano work is stunningly perfect for this song. A historical absolutely must have!
This is the Rumblers lone national hit, and was the basis for their follow up singles "Boss Strikes Back," "Son of Boss," and "Boss Drums." Heavily R&B based, rhythmic and grumbly, its catchy thump and honkin' grodiness are essential listening for ant fan of the genre.
Sub Surf (Instrumental)
The Mar-Kets created this nearly Lawrence Welk forties-ish "Surfers Stomp." Frankly, Susan and the SurfTones do the best version of this song. Simple slow paced innocent instrumental rock and roll, with great piano and saucy sax. Infectious and unpretentious. Don't look for the classic surf sound here, but do enjoy the simplicity and fun. Smooth and right nice.
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.