Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Surf 'n' Drag and Other California Action Sounddotdot
artworkThis 1990 Japanese CD release contains very little surf, and is entirely from the Hollywood studio system between 1963 and 1967. Vocals include the Timers' "Competition Coupe," and Mel Taylor's personalization of the "King of the Surf Guitar" idea called "Ban Bang Rhythm," which is way bad.
Picks: The Lonely Surfer, Summer Night, Rumble, The Last Race, Forbidden City, Let's Go (Pony), Sting Ray, Telstar, Pipeline, Ski Surfin', Avalanche, Out Of Limits, Woody Wagon, Batman Theme, Drums A Go-Go, Bullseye, Walkin', This Guitar Was Made For Twangin', Daydream

Track by Track Review

The Lonely Surfer dotdotdot
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.

Summer Night dot
MOR (Instrumental)

This is a syrup sax instro with piano counterpoint over a soft bass and distant drums, and strings in some verses. It's purely a middle of the road (MOR) instro for the old folks.

Rumble dotdotdot
Orchestral Thug Rock (Instrumental)

This has to be the most bizarre version of Link Wray's signature song that I've ever heard! Orchestrally presented with bass trombone or big brass section leading the melody. The guitar in the break is kind of strange too. Imagine David Rose ("The Stripper") attempting this and you might get a sense of how strange it is. It's a complete washout from a rock instro or surf point of view, but so absurd that it bears at least one listening just for the strangitude of it!

The Last Race dotdotdot
Hit Clone (Instrumental)

Speaking of studio lizards, Jack Nitzsche had a major AM hit with his low-E guitar and orchestra studio creation "The Lonely Surfer." This is just like that... a spinoff of the same idea. Jack Nitzsche was a producer. This is an interesting track for a few spins, but it is very derivative. This was the theme to the Village Of The Giants I think.

Forbidden City dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Bongos, grodie low-E rhythm, vibrato chords in the lead generally in the "Rumble" mold, and horn-like guitar licks, plus a chorus. There's no doubt this is a studio creation. "Forbidden City" is one of those tracks you can't decide whether you hate or find oddly intriguing.

Let's Go (Pony) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Intense lead guitar twang! The guitar tone owns you. This is as good as "Solaris Stomp." A bit of the Spanish influence, and off-the-scale infectiometer readings. Very rich tone.

Sting Ray dot
Rock (Instrumental)

Aside from the car horn basis of this gimmicky track, there's little to attract the fan of real rock 'n' roll instros or surf here. This was also issued as "Ah-OO-Ga" or some such.

Telstar dot
Rock (Instrumental)

There are few interesting covers of the Tornados' "Telstar," and this doesn't buck the trend. Thin and very non-sci-fi.

Pipeline dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Tommy Tedesco provides one of the worst glissandoes on record to open the Chantays' classic "Pipeline." Quite unremarkable.

Ski Surfin' dotdotdot
Latin R&B Rock (Instrumental)

This is scary! I mean SCARY! The Contenders' "Wildman" is a basic track with adolescent high school chorus lines, and, well, just too silly for me.

Avalanche dot
Rock (Instrumental)

Mondo unremarkable studio jammin', though I think "Avalanche" is a bunch better than "Ski Surfin'." Still, it's so dismissible that it should be avoided unless Dramamine is readily available for the weak of stomach.

Out Of Limits dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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.

Woody Wagon dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Stylistically more like the Routers than the Marketts, but with vibrato shimmer and cool piano work from what sounds like Leon Russell. It's mostly just studio mung, but there is something just South of cool here.

Batman Theme dot
TV Theme (Instrumental)

Pompousoid dribble, now where near as interesting as Neil Hefty's release, and certainly of no particular importance. Just sequenced TV theme fair.

Drums A Go-Go dotdotdot
Go-Go (Instrumental)

Paul Buff and Sandy Nelson's very tribal "Drums A Go-Go" retains it's undulating sway while the Ventures' drummer Mel Taylor does a credible job on the skins. It's nowhere near as enticing as either Sandy Nelson's version, or the Hollywood Persuaders' original.

Bullseye dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very tasteful reinvention of Danny Hamilton's "Bullseye," which the Ventures and many others recorded. Delicate damped reverb guitar lines and a very surfable sound. Rhythmically inviting and surfably enabled.

Walkin' dot
Lite Rock (Instrumental)

Guitar-for-hire and sometimes member of the Ventures plays a go-nowhere riff over a walkin' blues rhythm with orchestral accompaniment. If you never heard this, it wouldn't change your life at all.

This Guitar Was Made For Twangin' dot
Lite Rock (Instrumental)

This is a studio twang mess around of Lee Hazelwood's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'." Funny for about 30 seconds.

Daydream dotdot
Lite Rock (Instrumental)

This is a soft slow back porch interpretation of the Lovin' Spoonful's smarmy hit. Aside from the countrification, it's of little consequence.