Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Teen Beat 5dotdotdot
artworkThe fifth and final volume of this fine series contains some really great nuggets, and is maybe the best of the set. Most interesting here are the Frantics' "Werewolf" and the amazing 1948 release of "Guitar Boogie" from Arthur Smith and his Cracker-Jacks.
Picks: Let's Go (Pony), Let There Be Drums, Point Panic, The Lonely Surfer, Green Onions, Slow Walk, Bumbershoot, Percolator, No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In), Quiet Village, Dumplin's, 7-11 (Mambo #5), Week End, Surfer's Stomp, Werewolf, Like Long Hair, Gonzo, Yakety Sax, Raw-Hide, The Madison Time (Part 1), Jupiter-C, Boss, Last Night, Night Theme, Penetration, Leap Frog, Night Hop, Guitar Boogie, Honky Tonk, Honky Tonk Part 2

Track by Track Review

Let's Go (Pony) dotdotdot
Cheerleader Rock (Instrumental)

Like many other hits of the day, beginning with Tommy Facenda's "High School USA," through the Beach Boys' "Be True To Your School," this was a cheer leader's dream, a ready made routine for mindless group think chants and clique spirit rallies. "Let's Go (Pony)" uses a simple riff, and an infectious pre-"We Will Rock You" anthemic chant.

Let There Be Drums dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Let There Be Drums" was the first track released after Sandy Nelson lost his foot. It is an infectious thing with a rolling rhythm and great drums. The formula was a cross between "Wipe Out" and "Rebel Rouser." Nelson's drums are solid, and Richie Podolor's guitar work is excellent too.

Point Panic dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A-side of the follow up single to "Wipe Out." Great intro scream and tom toms. The fire in the bones of the band is clear here. High spirited, chunky, and rhythmic. Grand power glissandoes, and those wonderful Ron Wilson drums. Jim Pash's sax is most appropriate. Not often covered, but a really good tune.

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.

Green Onions dotdotdotdot
Memphis Soul (Instrumental)

Classic organ progression studio creation that stretched the patience without pane. It's not often you even notice there's so little that passes for a melody, not unlike the infinite listenings afforded Bo Diddley even though he usually only used one chord, and two notes on his guitar.

Slow Walk dotdotdot
Sanitized Rock (Instrumental)

1956's horn and piano stroll is a study in period sounds, with Bill Dogget thinking and sanitized rock edge.

Bumbershoot dotdotdot
Sanitized Rock (Instrumental)

Pre big guitar instrumentalization. More than a mere progression, less than a song. The guitar is pretty interesting for a few verses, but eventually gets too repetitive.

Percolator dotdotdot
Pop Rock (Instrumental)

This gimmicky postsurf period instro was based on a Maxwell House Coffee TV ad running at the time. The lead simulates the gradual escalation of the coffee bubbling up into the glass dome in the top of the coffee pot. It was an instant success, and is still pretty darn fun. It's not surf, but it sure endures well.

No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In) dotdotdot
Disco Surf (Instrumental)

Except for the seventies funk dry chop guitar, this is studio dribble as infectious as any commercial backtrack can be. It's the sort of track you love to hate, but find yourself whistling anyway.

Quiet Village dotdotdot
Exotica (Instrumental)

This IS exotica! Les Baxter wrote this, Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman made it a household experience in 1959. Denny's band held tourists captive in the big hotel lounges in Honolulu for nearly a decade with the fake bird calls, exotic percussion, and accessible safe piano and vibes leads. He brought the thrill of the jungle to people afraid of mice in a sanitized and fluid vehicle of eerily magical magnetism.

Dumplin's dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Saucy sax cheese in a Bill Black vein. Nothing special in this riff rocker.

7-11 (Mambo #5) dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Sax and roll progression noodling, post Bill Black. Approaches a sock hop TV theme, but doesn't quite rise to it.

Week End dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Churning sax rockin' frat rock... and no, it doesn't sound like the "Louie Louie" boys.

Surfer's Stomp dotdotdot
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.

Werewolf dotdotdotdotdot
Pre Surf Lycanthropy (Instrumental)

This is the original, growling with lycanthropic evil and great guitar over tribal toms and a shimmering vibrato second guitar. This is a totally unique and magnificent track! The power of the writing and the highly effective simplicity of the arrangement is stunning. The Frantics' "Werewolf" holds up really well after more than 35 years.

Like Long Hair dotdotdot
Piano Boogie (Instrumental)

Influenced by the success of B. Bumble & the Stingers, Paul Revere and Mark Lindsey laid down this piano boogie beat tune. The great piano lines come from Paul Dick. "Like Long Hair" is based on Rachmaninov's "Prelude In C-Sharpe Minor" It's quite infectious and cool. Kim Fowley was the producer.

Gonzo dotdotdot
Piano Boogie (Instrumental)

This ultra cool low down organ grinder is slithery and infectious. With a "Swingin' Shepherd Blues" flute solo, it crosses over between MOR and an R&B groove effortlessly, while retaining credibility. There's even a hint of the east LA scene to come from bands like the Rhythm Kings. Quite fun.

Yakety Sax dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

1963 saw the release of this nearly children's tune. It's a honkin' playful sax romp. Way fun, but also quite dismissible.

Raw-Hide dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Who'da thunk it? Paul McCartney's "Cayenne" makes credible fodder for a pretty surf instro, melodic, sad, and haunting. Susan's arrangement is nicely balanced, and the tone is most pleasing.

The Madison Time (Part 1) dotdot
Gimmicky Post Jazz Rock (Instrumental)

A basic groove with narrated dance instructions... a remnant of the sock hop era. Interesting only from a period point of view.

Jupiter-C dotdotdot
Pre Surf Rockabilly (Instrumental)

This obscure single was covered on the Crunchers' 12" of the same name. It may be repetitious, but there's something primal and dangerous about it.

Boss dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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.

Last Night dotdotdotdot
Sock Hop R&B (Instrumental)

This musta been one of the main influences on the creation of the Blues Brothers. It has that primal R&B grunting rhythm and a soulful Memphis style organ. Ultra simple and repetitious, but it reigned at frat parties and on the radio going into the news.

Night Theme dotdotdot
Prom Night Slow Dance (Instrumental)

This has to be the stereotype for every last-dance at a fifties prom. The shimmering vibes and the sub-stroll beat simply ooze adolescents in formals.

Penetration dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

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.

Leap Frog dotdot
Sax Squonk Rock (Instrumental)

"Leap Frog" is your basic sax squonkin' frat rocker... nasty, but unremarkable.

Night Hop dotdot
Frothy Sax Rock (Instrumental)

Bouncy froth rockin' fifties fare, infectious but leaving no lasting mark.

Guitar Boogie dotdotdotdot
Guitar Boogie Roots (Instrumental)

Now, this hearkens all the way back to 1948. It was made over into a rock anthem by the Virtues. Simply amazing, you can hear rock and roll a-comin' round the bend in this magnificent country pickin' track. Cool is an understatement.

Honky Tonk dotdotdotdot
Rock Groove (Instrumental)

This suave sax and guitar blues jam is a classic. It swings with simplicity and hooks you with little effort. very cool indeed.

Honky Tonk Part 2 dotdotdotdot
Rock Groove (Instrumental)

Part two is a trip into the annex of the song, equally cool and infectious.