Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Surfin' Bongos (mono)dotdot
artworkThe original album with Preston Epps on bongos plus a bunch of extra tracks, all in mono.
Picks: The Bongo Teens - Blue Skies, Bustin' Surfboards, Baja Rhythm, The Rotations - La Gran Ola, Brian Lord and the Midnighters - Not Another One!, Preston Epps - Bongo Rock, Bongo Party, Heavies

Track by Track Review


Wipe Out dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Bongos in lieu of Ron Wilson's drums are just so limp! This whole track is low energy. I can't say this is more than vintage.

Last Night dotdotdot
Bongo Rock (Instrumental)

This is a pale version of The Mar-Keys' "Last Night." Its arrangement sound contrived. Organ lead, guitar breaks, and bongos. More or less a straight cover with bongos added, I'll stick to The Mar-Keys' original thank you very much.

Blue Skies dotdotdot
Go-Go (Instrumental)

Surf guitar and bongos gently plat Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies." In a sort of Ventures arrangement with bongos, The Bongo Teens do a decent job with this venerable instro, but it's not as interesting as The Webs' version.

The Happy Surfer dot
Surf (Instrumental)

Bongos and what seems inspired by Dave 'Baby' Cortez, only all toned down. "The Happy Surfer" really doesn't warrant much attention.

Baja Bongos dot
Surf (Instrumental)

reverbed bongos and a cruddy chorus, and the sound is kinda muddy. Not very interesting.

Surfin' Bongos dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Approaching surf gingerly, Preston Epps' bongos are the main event. This is better than many here, but not particularly notable.

Bustin' Surfboards dotdotdot
Go-Go (Instrumental)

This is a lot more credible than I expected. Though nowhere near as gritty as the original, its lighter textures accept the bongos really well. The melody is not quite right - stopping short of the end, but it works just fine.

Surfin' U.S.A. dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Sax carries lead as Preston Epps plays his heart out. Very dismissible!

Forget It
Go-Go (Instrumental)

Chumpy blues rock instro fare. No real melody, just a riff and sax over a stiff beat. It ends suddenly as if the tape ran out and they said oh-well, we'll just fade it out.

Baja Rhythm dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Reverbed guitar playa gutty pattern in sync with bass while a distant guitar jams on a kinda-cool riff. The organ fills the middle. Quite unusual.

La Gran Ola dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"La Gran Ola" is "Heavies" undubbed. This is much more honest - I have to say I like it better. The Rotations were Paul Buff and Dave Aerni, probably with Frank Zappa.

Surfin' Bongos dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Approaching surf gingerly, Preston Epps' bongos are the main event. This is better than many here, but not particularly notable.

The Happy Surfer dot
Surf (Instrumental)

Bongos and what seems inspired by Dave 'Baby' Cortez, only all toned down. "The Happy Surfer" really doesn't warrant much attention.

Another Wipe Out dot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is mighty murky... as if the mic was on the talk box. The utterly horrid sound doesn't hurt a "Wipe Out" wanna be that's all jam. Not worth your time.

Not Another One! dotdotdot
Memphis Soul Clone (Instrumental)

Jammy guitar over surf sounds... weird whammy and a surfish riff. Somewhat dissonant, and non-melodic. having said all that, "Not Another One" is unique and catchy in a strange way.

Bongo Rock dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is a marvelous and fun classic rock 'n' roll single. The rhythm is totally infectious, and the simple melody line sticks in your memory cells despite any attempt to clear your head. This has almost nothing to do with surf music, though it was a staple among some of the bands. It predates the genre, and has no reverb at all. It is important for a couple of reasons. It was the first rock instro featuring the bongo drum as a central instrument, and it was the structure of this song that was one basis for the Surfaris' "Wipe Out."

Bongo Bongo Bongo
Rock (Instrumental)

Mr. Bongo makes nice with ultra simple piano boogie. No melody, just a gimmick (the bongos).

Bongo Party dotdotdotdot
Jungle Exotica (Instrumental)

Much like its flip side, "Bongo Party" rocks and flows with guitar melodies and chords against furious bongo drums. Entirely cool, while being pretty minimalist in structure.

Heavies dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Rotations were Paul Buff and Dave Aerni. Paul Buff owned and operated Pal Studio, used by an ample number of Surf bands. Dave Aerni managed the Hollywood Tornadoes. Buff also recorded as the Hollywood Persuaders. Paul and Dave played all the instruments on the "Heavies" single included here. It's quite obscure, and unusually cool for a studio construct. This track, and the other side of the single appears on the Japanese CD The Cucamonga Years, which collects early works by Frank Zappa. Zappa is not on this track.

The Cruncher dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

An organ lead track of little interest, neither particularly melodic or well thought out. It has a Peter Gunn-ish backtrack, and wailin' studio sax lines. The guitar is letting out a damped reverbed support for the lead instruments. From 1964.

The Cruncher dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

An organ lead track of little interest, neither particularly melodic or well thought out. It has a Peter Gunn-ish backtrack, and wailin' studio sax lines. The guitar is letting out a damped reverbed support for the lead instruments. From 1964.

Like Surf
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a 15 second bit of Andre Previn's "Like Young" done in a sorta surf style. Filler.