Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Toes On the Nosedotdotdotdot
artworkThe best set yet from Ace Records musically, but it sure would have been nice if they'd gone after the studio tapes instead of using so many vinyl sources. Still, this is an important issue, and it contains a major slab of guitarage from my favorite studio picker and writer Richie Podolor.
Picks: Richie Allen and the Pacific Surfers - The Quiet Surf, Surf Man, Jerry Cole and his Spacemen - Outer Limits, Eddie and the Showmen - Squad Car, Movin', Mr. Rebel, We Are The Young, Faraway Places, Lanky Bones, Toes On The Nose, Border Town, Scratch, The Ghouls - Voo Doo Juice, Coffin Nails, Dracula's Theme, Sandy Nelson - Casbah, The Rally Packs - Bucket Seats, The Super Stocks - Midnight Run, Newport Beach, Trophy Run, Ventura, The Last Walk, Oceanside, Redondo Beach, Gridiron Goodie, The Vulcaines - Twilight City

Track by Track Review

Richie Allen and the Pacific Surfers - The Quiet Surf dotdotdotdotdot
Pristine Perfect Surf (Instrumental)

This is easily one of my favorite all time surf instros, and it's Richie Podolor on guitar and penmanship, of course. What a grand sound. Entirely liquid and emotional. Every time I hear this track, it raises the hair on the back of my neck. Brilliant chords, lush tone, and a wonderful backtrack. It was originally known as "Samoa." This is simply stunning and shimmering, with rolling exotic tom-toms. The Mermen do this very well.

Richie Allen and the Pacific Surfers - Surf Man dotdotdotdot
Ominous Surf (Instrumental)

Also known as "Cave Man" on a presurf single, Richie Podolor does it yet again. Heard within the confines of this song are the base elements for several other Podolor tunes. He often wrote pieces with enough things happening that subsections or runs could be morphed into whole new songs with yet more little foundation lines. Amazing writer.

Jerry Cole and his Spacemen - Outer Limits dotdotdot
Studio Jam (Instrumental)

Better than most of Jerry Cole's stuff by a long shot. Many are marred by guitar mistakes and/or just plain wrong melody lines from hasty learning or a lack of attention to detail I suppose. This is not as good as the Mar-Ketts original, but it does have a certain attraction, if only for the novel guitar tones.

Jerry Cole and his Spacemen - Pipeline dot
Surf (Instrumental)

Never let it be said that Jerry Cole was even a prince of the surf guitar. Listening to this version of "Pipeline," you quickly notice he got the melody wrong. Argh! Makes me crazy! Incidentally, Jerry was one of the studio regulars in Hollywood, and was reported to have played guitar in lieu of the Beach Boys on many of their early studio tracks.

Jerry Cole and his Spacemen - Midnight Surfer dotdotdot
Studio Surf (Instrumental)

It's OK, but the generic surf standard thievery and the mediocre performance don't pull much weight. It's mostly a studio jam, not well thought out. Musta been written during a coffee break. It has that "let's put a glissando here, and a whammy there" feel to it.

Eddie and the Showmen - Squad Car dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is THEE Eddie & the Showmen song, and their second single. Written by Paul Johnson, it totally shreds. The best news is it finally appears in stereo.

Eddie and the Showmen - Movin' dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Third single, and easily the best cover of this Lee Hazelwood tune. Lots' of sparks fly from Eddie's quick fingers.

Eddie and the Showmen - Mr. Rebel dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Eddie and the Showmen's third single was a tribute to KRLA DJ Reb Foster, who also owned the Revelaire Club, where Eddie Bertrand found themselves to be the house band for a while. This is one of the great surf singles, sporting a totally infectious and optimistic melody and beat.

Eddie and the Showmen - We Are The Young dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Also known as "Theme One," this tune from the fifth single marks the transition into a lot less double picking and a more MOR sound with the oos-n-ahs. This song has a haunting melody, which I find to be quite endearing.

Eddie and the Showmen - Faraway Places dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Man-oh-man. I wish this was in stereo. This is one of my favorite Eddie & the Showmen tunes. It has a great and very memorable melody that fits it's title exactly. It's the other side of the fourth single.

Eddie and the Showmen - Lanky Bones dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Eddie's version is good, but Paul Johnson's is better. This is from the fourth single.

Eddie and the Showmen - Toes On The Nose dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One side of the first single, this is a really grand number, with unusual use of glissandos. It's choppy, powerful, and very infectious.

Eddie and the Showmen - Border Town dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Strongly based on Bob Moore's "Mexico," this number has been a fave of mine for 35 years, despite the out-of-tune guitar. This rendition capitalizes on the chunky rhythm, and is wonderfully played.

Eddie and the Showmen - Young And Lonely dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

More oos-n-ahs don't save this pop tune. It has none of the memorable charm of the other side of this single. Too laid back. The energy was gone.

Eddie and the Showmen - Scratch dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A very shallow stereo mix of the often covered song. It's very powerful, and a must have. B-side of single number two.

The Ghouls - Voo Doo Juice dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Richie Podolor on guitar, with his usual style and brilliant writing. This is a slight reworking of another Podolor piece, but with the sultry organ just below the surface and the infectious guitar, this is magnificent. Wow!

The Ghouls - Coffin Nails dotdotdotdotdot
Surf Chunky (Instrumental)

The final version of the demo from the Super Stocks CD. It's another gorgeous Richie Podolor tune. His tone was totally bitchin, warm and crisp. He reportedly plugged directly into the board to get his sound. What ever he did, it was magical!

The Ghouls - Dracula's Theme dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

More amazing Richie Podolor guitarage. I can't get enough of his work. This is a silky slow track with a beautiful melody line and an optimistic sadness about it. Really cool!

The Ho-Dads - Legends dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Studio schmaltz with some OK guitar work.

The Ho-Dads - Space Race dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Really boring and mediocre space single B-side style tune.

Sandy Nelson - Casbah dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Damn near the best surf single ever, and certainly Sandy Nelson's best track. The brilliant surf guitar work is from my personal favorite studio player Richie Podolor. This single kicks major hind quarter. Fast rippin' tune delivered like a machine gun. Amazingly good! It's been in my top ten for 32 years now.

The Rally Packs - Bucket Seats dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It's hard to imagine listening to this, but Jan Berry produced it. I often wondered if Jan and Dean's "B-Gas Rickshaw" was an anomaly, or a glint of actual interest in real surf. I think this track answers the question. This is a very nice track, catchy, well produced, and infectious. It's on the lighter side, as with most studio concoctions, but it still a great track.

The Super Stocks - Midnight Run dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is THEE defining Super Stocks track. It is melodic, dramatic, emotional, powerful, dynamic, and highly melodic. It was written by Gary Usher, Richard Burns, and Roger Christian. It has one of the most infectious sounds of any of the more layered less assaultive surf instros. Totally great.

The Super Stocks - Newport Beach dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A sad and ominous minor key marvel, distant and infectious. Very nice writing from Usher & Burns and extremely fine playing by Podolor. Moody and mysterious, with a dramatic piano riff and haunted guitar.

The Super Stocks - Trophy Run dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Studio wizardry on guitar, though it's more repetitious than I usually like. The players include Richard Burns, Hal Blaine, and Leon Russell.

Super Stocks - Ventura dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Richie Podolor does it again with his immaculate playing. Gary Usher wrote this tune, and everyone plays really well. Gorgeous.

The Super Stocks - The Last Walk dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This very pretty track is just as sad and romantic as you might expect from the title. It has a country melody line, and a slowdance backtrack with brilliant Ferrante and Teischer-like piano work. Quite a nice track.

The Super Stocks - Oceanside dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Richie Podolor's pristine guitar tones and the fine melody from a collaboration of Gary Usher and Richard Burns combine to make a fine instro. It is very much typical of the classic Super Stocks sound at it's best, defined by Podolor's guitar and the rhythmic underpinnings of Sandy Nelson or Hal Blaine (drums), Richard Burns (bass), and Leon Russell (piano). Podolor's addition to this group made an immense difference. This track is a splendid surf tune, displaying both a gentle sound and a powerfully rhythmic nature.

The Super Stocks - Redondo Beach dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This Gary Usher tune is less melodic than most here. It's more rhythm oriented, and employs a sax bridge. It is a relatively tame track for Podolor's guitar playing.

The Super Stocks - Gridiron Goodie dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This badly titled track features a tight melody line, and a rhythmic backtrack, with fine playing by Podolor and the whole crew. The chords that open are rich, and the melody riff engaging. The break is a bit too jam-like for me, but otherwise it is a fine track.

The Vulcaines - Moon Probe dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Not too surfy, especially compared to their other releases. Spacy tones and the sound of post-surf space single B-sides.

The Vulcaines - Twilight City dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A cool rolling rhythm track with a so-so melody line well played. No where near as nasty as some of their work, and quite commercial sounding.