Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA Collection: Surf Wax - Songs Of The Beach
|This is an interesting comp because it contains a number of rarities and not too many throwaways. What's probably most interesting is the last track from New Zealand's Music Convention.|
Picks: Richie Allen and the Pacific Surfers - The Rising Surf, The Belairs - Mr. Moto, The Challengers - K-39, The Chantays - Crystal T., The Fabulous Playboys - Cheater Stomp, The Frogmen - Underwater, The Looney Tunes - Wild Action, The Marketts - Out Of Limits, The Music Convention - Bellyboard Beat, PJ and the Galaxies - Tally Ho, The Pyramids - Penetration, The Revels - Church Key, The Tornadoes - Bustin' Surfboards
Track by Track Review
Richie Allen and the Pacific Surfers - The Rising Surf
Pure Gorgeous Surf (Instrumental)
Among the prettiest surf instro tracks of all time, Richie Podolor's composition is stunningly crystalline and well crafted. This track delivers imagery of the surf beginning to rise from a placid state, promising but not yet delivering big surf. The tones are characteristically clean and pure, and the melody is most memorable. Thoroughly engaging and emotionally charged!
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!
John Blair with the Eliminators - Depth Charge
This is a point of confusion. Likely also from A Surfers Paradise, but where did the keys come from? John Blair played with the Eliminators, who don't have a keyboard, and it couldn't be the Halibuts, 'cuz the keyboard tone is all wrong. What gives here? Anyway, the sound is very muddy for the band, almost unidentifiable and ambient. John's performance is fine.
"K-39" is one of the best late surf tracks. It is named after a surf spot 39 kilometers south of the California-Mexico border. Hal Blaine's drumming is exquisite, and the melody is great. This is a true Surf classic.
The Chantays - Crystal T.
The big sound of the new Chantays, this is not their best new original, but it's solid, and the sound is not too muddy here, though the general mix is just all even, with the lead guitar lines often buried or nearly lost. A big guitar modern rock track with not much surf feel.
Jerry Cole and his Spacemen - Surf Age
Studio Jam (Instrumental)
Ringing guitar notes, and Capitol Records studio horns create a cross between an interesting song idea and bad session work.
The Fabulous Playboys - Cheater Stomp
John Blair didn't list this in his "Illustrated Discography Of Surf Music 1961-1965," and neither did Rich Hagensen in his phone book thick compendium of instrumentals. Heavy surf and plucky piano riffola. Very fun indeed.
The Farm - San-Ho-Zay
Blues Rock (Instrumental)
This is a blues rock exercise in Freddy King's "San-Ho-Zay." Not a lick of surf here, but still, this is a tasteful excursion into the basics of electric blues. The organ is - well - like Jimmy Smith on a bad day.
The Frogmen romp with "Underwater." It's very much a surf precursor, and important for that reason. Numerous of their tracks have appeared on various budget comps over the past few years.
Mike Gordon and the Agates - Rumble At Newport Beach
Fifties Rock (Instrumental)
This is very much rock instro of the melody free progression variety, like so many fifties instros. It has no relationship to surf, other than the presumed title link. It's just a party jam. Mike Gordon wrote "Out Of Limits" for the Mar-Ketts.
The Looney Tunes - Wild Action
Chop Shop (Instrumental)
Guitar chop riff dominated progressions, whammy suavity, and coy little slides. Quite refreshing, and friendly. Tasty.
The Mar-Kets - Surfer's Stomp
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.
The Marketts - Out Of Limits
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.
The Music Convention - Bellyboard Beat
Yikes! "Bellyboard Beat" is a mondo psych surf thrasher with intense fuzz, sitar, and a long pummeling drum solo. It is the drums that the song is all about! Quite something, especially for '68 when flower power was in full swing. This particular audio is extracted from the Children Of The Sun soundtrack (1968).
PJ and the Galaxies - Tally Ho
This classic rhythm dominated Paul Johnson tune is played with ringing tone and a sense of timing that only Paul had, a magical connection between the lead and rhythm guitars that created a synergy, and placed their importance on par with each other, each diminishing the power of the other in their absence. Excellent playing, and infectious butt-moving rhythms. This take is equally interesting than Paul's 1980 session with his band the Packards.
The Pyramids - Penetration
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.
This version of "Church Key" is the same take as the hit, but with a different vocal intro, and with Barbara Adkins giggle at the end. Hot track!
The Tornadoes - Bustin' Surfboards
"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.