Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Waikiki Surf Battledotdotdotdot
artworkWaikiki Surf Battle is a summary of the two releases from 1963 and 1964. It features some really amazing stuff. Side one is recorded at the 1963 battle, and side two at the 1964 battle, both held at the Waikiki Shell, with 10,000 screaming teens in attendance. The sound is ambient, but man-oh-man, some of these tracks are amazing, especially the Spiedels.

The list of bands in attendance is impressive enough from the tracks included, but there were many more. The Delrays, the Escents, Denny and the Dukes, the Harmonics, the Bel-Aires, the Regents, the Road Runners (3rd place in '63), Judy and the Belmonts (2nd place in '63), the Strollers, the Raiders, the Impacts, the Majestics, the Checkmates, the Adventures, the Sensations, the Frolic Five, the Escorts, the Arcades, the Duplex, the Thunderbirds, and the Kona Casuals. Many are featured on the second volume.

This is a bootleg reissue from vinyl.
Picks: High Surf, Vagabond Surf, Last Night, Wipe Out, Panic Button, Surf Rider, Zombie, Apache, Pipeline / Move It, Pressure, Journey To The Stars, War Of The Satellites, Cruel Sea, Penetration, Surf Jam, Static Beat, The Ward, Miserlou

Track by Track Review


High Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"High Surf" is very heavily influenced by "Surf Beat," but with a variant melody. Intense vintage reverb in the riff surf vein. The string slide notes are pretty cool.

Vagabond Surf dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Vagabond Surf" is a zesty surf rager not unlike some of the finer originals to come out of the Midwest. The youthful exuberance of the band is only exceeded by the sparkling guitar. Major fun and vital period surf magic.

Last Night dotdot
Surf Blues (Instrumental)

This is a pretty bluesy tune, and with the dreadful mix, the melody line to "Last Night" is almost completely lost. It ends up like a minor Freddie King backtrack.

Wipe Out dotdotdot
Surf Blues (Instrumental)

One of the better known of the Hawaiian surf bands of the era, the Statics to a brutally flawed "Wipe Out" while keeping their chins up. I'll bet they were damn happy when it was over. Even the liners called it their "nervous '63 mangle." Still, they ended up in second place the following year.

Panic Button dotdotdot
Surf Jam (Instrumental)

This isn't the Fireballs' tune. "Panic Button" is a rabid riff rocker with no shortage of fire, but generally lacking in melody.

Surf Rider dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This girl band does a very odd version of "Surf Rider" with a restrained performance and a ukulele feel. Vibrant and unabashed, yet quite amateur.

Zombie dotdotdotdot
Monster Surf (Instrumental)

The monster theme opener quickly yields to an interesting surf melody cranked out with full force and speed. Great arranging and infectious writing create an above average surf intro. Though the sound is pretty suckie, the spirit is really strong.

Apache dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a relatively basic performance of "Apache," with vibrato on the lead, and intense tone on the second guitar.

Pipeline / Move It dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Spiedles were easily the best of the bands at the 1963 battle, and indeed they won first place. This is a very tuff performance. Milton Soong's rhythm guitar drives the second guitar part with intense tone. I asked Milton once how he got that sound, but he didn't remember. After a couple of verses of "Pipeline," the glissando drops into the absolute best version of "Move It" ever! No joke! Milton's intense tone and vibrant neck slides drive this otherwise quirky tune to become a real surf monster. They should have cut an album. Essential surf.

Pressure dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Pyramids' "Pressure" gets reverent treatment from the Dimensions. Aside from a heavy handed ultra reverbed sound, the arrangement is true to the single. The intensity of the guitars gives it a lot more power than the original.

Journey To The Stars dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Journey To The Stars" is treated like a strait cover, and is well done. Nothing new here, except the delivery is a bit tuffer and more vibrant than the Ventures' original. The organ part is carried via double picked guitar duet. Pretty cool.

War Of The Satellites dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Ventures' "War Of The Satellites" is played straight, right down to the silliness of the embellishing notes. It is more powerful, but still not really interesting.

Cruel Sea dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Dakotas' surf B-side is well played and presented the way the Ventures cut it. Nothing special.

Penetration dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Rivals arranged this based on the Ventures' version, even using echo instead of reverb. It is less silly than theirs, but also less interesting than the Pyramids' original single.

Surf Jam dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

An unlikely name for a Hawaiian surf band (or any other surf band for that matter), but here they are. The Lepricons' take on the Beach Boys' "Surf Jam" is less interesting than the original, but that's mostly because the performance is kinda funky.

Static Beat dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a pretty interesting track. Quite outside what you'd consider trad surf from a rhythm guitar chord progression point of view, yet sporting a very cool lead riff. The chord progression approximates the Revel's "Church Key," and indeed a few bars are thrown in for the break. The Statics won second place in the 1964 battle.

The Ward dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Chuck Berry chords and noodling does not a surf instro make, but then here are some shine double picked moments. Melody free nonsense. How they won the 1964 battle is a wonder, but then it was the Beatles' era, and they mostly did rip off Berry's chords, as did the Beach Boys, so maybe it's not so strange.

Miserlou dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Here we go, with another hot performance by the amazing Spiedels. Miserlou is traditionally arranged and played with amazing fire and spunk. The arrangement is a blend of Dick Dale and his Del-tones' single and the album version ("Miserlou Twist"). Hot and fast.