Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Surf Music Hitsdotdotdot
artworkThis is essentially based around the GNP Surf Crazy comp. Some very good stuff, some not so.
Picks: The Breakers - Surf Bird, The Challengers - Surf-Ari, Cruel Sea, Tequila, Telstar, Water Country, Dick Dale and his Del-tones - King Of The Surf Guitar, Sloop John B., The Victor, Surfin' And A-Swingin', Gene and the Esquires - Space Race, The Dave Myers Effect - Hell's Racers, Neil Norman - The Perfect Wave, The Rockin' Rebels - Wild Weekend, Shean and Jenkins - Goofy Footer Ho-Dad, Slacktone - Tidal Wave, The Soul Kings - Swingin' Piper Soul, The Surfaris - Storm Surf, The Surfaris (Jim Pash) - Wipe Out, Louie Louie, The Surf Raiders - Curl Rider, The Tornadoes - Bustin' Surfboards, Bob Vaught and the Renegaids - Surfin' Tragedy, The Ventures - Pipeline, The Lonely Sea, Perfidia, Hawaii Five-0, Party In Laguna, Walk, Don't Run '64, The Lonely Bull, Sukiyaki, Jim Waller and the Deltas - Intoxica, Let's Go Surfin'

Track by Track Review


The Breakers - Surf Bird dot
Surf (Vocal)

Ah yes - scary as they come, the Breakers do a doo-wop Hollywood syrup surf song for the teeny boppers. Oh boy!

The Challengers - Surf-Ari dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another Good Guys track. Not a very interesting melody, but listenable.

The Challengers - Cruel Sea dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Among the better covers of this Dakotas (Billy J. Kramer) tune written by Mike Maxfield.

The Challengers - Tequila dotdot
Exotica Mexica (Instrumental)

OK, so it's over done, over imitated, and overplayed. Still, it's a great song. So, why do it so boringly?

The Challengers - Telstar dot
MOR (Instrumental)

The song's author Joe Meek would roll over in their grave. Where's the flair and guts of the London Tornados? It's merely non-offensive MOR, looking for a shopping cart.

The Challengers - Water Country dot
Pop (Instrumental)

Big horns and crappy MOR mono sound.... The strings... The flutes... The female la-la vocals... it takes the Challengers to a new low.

Dick Dale and his Del-tones - King Of The Surf Guitar dotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

This take of "King Of The Surf Guitar" is less gutsy and more showband-like than the Capitol version. The Vegas showgirls chorus doesn't cut it, but then neither did the Blossoms when they sang over Dick's great guitar licks.

Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Sloop John B. dot
Not (Vocal)

This is the GNP version. It's too bad it's not cleaned up from the Del-tone sessions, cause that version is really quite a trip, just lousy sound. This is too Vegas for me, what with the chorus and all. Yet, the guitar is delicate and gorgeous!

Dick Dale and his Del-tones - The Victor dotdotdotdot
Not (Instrumental)

Not the great Capital session, but from the GNP sessions in '75. It's a fine version, but suffers from the same weakness they all had, little energy in the mix, but a good performance. The Capital session is a lot stronger. This track ranks as one of the great Middle Eastern surf epics. It sports a minimal melody, but has an intensity all it's own, which lead the Mermen to include it in their infamous "Middle Eastern medley." Power, Intensity, Grace... what more do you want? This version is both better and lesser, depending on what you are looking for. More chunk and clarity, less energy and panache.

Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Surfin' And A-Swingin' dotdotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

One of the few vocals Dick recorded that features his great surf guitar drivin' hard, "Surfin' and A-Swingin'" is a powerhouse surf vocal with great energy and a killer surf guitar break. The backtrack is mostly pretty muddy, but for the guitar shreddin' break alone, it's worth seeking out. Great stuff!

Gene and the Esquires - Space Race dotdotdot
Space (Instrumental)

This is a strange track from the studio side of things. It sports spacy electronic noises, some sounds of the surf, and some sounds of the surf, plus a really catchy riff delivered with dry guitar tones. This is the song the Ventures covered on In Space.

The Dave Myers Effect - Hell's Racers dotdot
Biker Fuzz Organ (Instrumental)

Hot rods cross the soundscape and then a soft fuzz guitar plays a pleasant melody over a ho-hum backtrack. Very disappointing!

Neil Norman - The Perfect Wave dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a stellar track. It shreds mightily, double picked excellently, powering it's way through a fine melody and dramatic arrangement. It's a monster of an eighties surf recording.

The Rockin' Rebels - Wild Weekend dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is the one. This is the song everyone thinks of with this band. It was cut originally as a theme for the Tom Shannon Show on Buffalo, New York's legendary WBKW, from whence came free form progenitors Tom Donahue, Bob Mitchell, and Peter Trip. This is growly, dark, evil, chunky, melodic, and features near-surf rhythm guitar behind a raw R&B sax. A great and necessary track.

Shean and Jenkins - Goofy Footer Ho-Dad
Surf (Instrumental)

Who the hell are/were Shean and Jenkins? It's a stupid Hollywood studio rock 'n' roll bed with a moron "poem" over the top trying really hard to be half as cool as Ed "Kookie" Byrnes. Egad, it's enough to make you wanna swear off surf!

Slacktone - Tidal Wave dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Can you spell M-O-N-S-T-E-R? Dave Wronski is a major guitar hero, and there is no better surf drummer than Dusty Watson. This track completely abuses you before it's through, like a 1 second drop down a fifty foot face only to be placed gently on the beach. You should hear 'em do this live!

The Soul Kings - Swingin' Piper Soul dotdotdot
Surf Latin East LA Pachuko Soul (Instrumental)

The Pied Piper of Pachuko Soul. Take your standard Surf n Soul arrangement, take away the Mariachi and add a flute and - viola! Herbie Mann goes surfing.

The Surfaris - Storm Surf dotdotdotdotdot
Surf Folk (Instrumental)

Jim Pash told me "Storm Surf" was recorded in his mother's living room in '64 with Jim Fuller's lead guitar, Jim Pash on electric twelve string, Ken Forssi on bass, and an unknown drummer, maybe Don Murray. I'm not convinced that it isn't a Decca session, though it didn't show up in the vault purge for Varese Sarabande. In any event, Jim came across this tape in a shoe box in his mom's garage. The original name is lost in time. Jim said he did not recall ever playing it live. It was probably the last surf instro they wrote. It is a wonderful, though not entirely developed tune. Thank you GNP for getting this out for all us punters.

The Surfaris (Jim Pash) - Wipe Out dotdotdotdot
Surf Revival Review (Instrumental)

Don Murray was a good drummer, but no one can do this like Ron Wilson could. Solid performance.

The Surfaris (Jim Pash) - Louie Louie dotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

This is a pretty solid version of Richard Berry's ultra classic. Quite fun.

The Surf Raiders - Curl Rider dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This classic revival track from the second or third band to carry the torch in the eighties is a fine, melodic, rhythmic pure surf tune with plenty of power and oodles of surfisms. A really important track to the reemergence of surf instros.

The Tornadoes - Bustin' Surfboards dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Bustin' Surfboards" is one of the most recognizable of the tribal surf instros from the sixties. It's drum dominated raw sound was nothing short of magical when I first heard it on KRLA. This is one of the essential surf instros, a desert island must-have.

Bob Vaught and the Renegaids - Surfin' Tragedy dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another exceptionally grand surf instro. Most of Bob Vaught's work was gutty and raw. This is shiny, shimmery, and exquisite. It ranks pretty close to "Latin'ia" in beautiful surf history. Especially if you've heard Doug Hume's vocal version. A must have.

The Ventures - Pipeline dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Ventures recorded "Pipeline" with no reverb, and very uneven glissando meter, plus little of the emotional beauty of the Chantays' original classic. It's a flat-pickers rendition, not particularly interesting.

The Ventures - The Lonely Sea dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This splendid island breeze classic is so friendly... and so Polynesian... and just so cool! melodic and a pure joy to listen to. Really well written and well played.

The Ventures - Perfidia dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is the followup to "Walk, Don't Run," in the same style and equally infectious. The lead is less up front, but the warmth of the whammy makes this an excellent presurf track. Great drums and picking. The combo really comes together in this track.

The Ventures - Hawaii Five-0 dotdotdot
TV Surf (Instrumental)

Often covered TV theme song from the chameleons of instro rock from the 1968 TV series.

The Ventures - Party In Laguna dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is actually the Champs' "Tequila" recut. Nothing to write home about.

The Ventures - Walk, Don't Run '64 dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Ventures had already become the chameleons of rock by the time surf came along a mere few months after they cut "Walk, Don't Run" in 1960. They adapted quickly, morphing their crown jewel tune into a surf classic by adding reverb and glissandos. It's way fun.

The Ventures - The Lonely Bull dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Attempting to come too close to the Tijuana Brass sound, this guitar band gives the lead duties over to horns, and adds the chorus as well. Like Billy Strange meets Bert Kempfert.

The Ventures - Sukiyaki dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

This is a pretty and fluffy arrangement of one of the first Japanese / American cross over hits.

Jim Waller and the Deltas - Intoxica dotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

This is a surf instro standard reworked in a club jazz vein. "Intoxica" do it all softly with a unique approach. Unlike the Sundazed CD, his tracks here are in stereo.

Jim Waller and the Deltas - Let's Go Surfin' dotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

Another of Jim Waller's originals, this is a nice tune with a nonintrusive comfort about it.