Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Wild Guitar Rockersdotdotdot
artworkThirty often rockin' tracks, most of which are from the early sixties, and some of which are rather obscure surf instros. there's lots here to chew on!
Picks: Rich Clayton and the Rumbles - Flip Side, The Coachmen - Confusion, The Cornells - Beachbound, Lone Star Stomp, The Corvairs - Something Wild, The Crusaders - Moving Out, The Ewen Brothers Three - Nashville, The Four Satins - Drop Off, The Handclappers - Three Gassed Rats, The Other Side, The Iridescents - Cool It Reba, The Lancers - Torture, Dr. Casey Twist, Little Willie and Band - Hot Tamale, The Night Trains - Scramble, The Nocturnals - The Twister's Stomp, The Orchids - 2:45, The Roulettes - Just Foolin' Around, Sunny and the Four Shades - Beetle Boogie, The Teen Kings - Hep Cat, The Triumphs - Draggin' Wagon

Track by Track Review


Rich Clayton and the Rumbles - Flip Side dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Rumbles were a Council Bluffs band founded in 1962. "Flip Side" is the obvious titled flip side of their "Wail It" single. It features a damped lead which delivers an infectious melody over a round and rolling backtrack. Right from the whammied opening chord, this fine track captures your heart. Great landlocked surf.

The Coachmen - Confusion dotdotdot
Near Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very spunky number with nearly surf tone and a blues rhythm guitar. This is a very cool instrumental despite being mostly just a blues jam. Big, brash, and quite fun.

The Cornells - Beachbound dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Opening with a whammy chord, this is a dry surf number, among the surfiest on the album. It's rhythm and riff orientation, accented by a wailin' sax break is prototypical surf single fare. A nice track. "Beachbound" was also released as "Ten Tons Of Wet" as by the Surf Riders on a Canadian label.

The Cornells - Lone Star Stomp dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is "Deep In The Heart Of Texas," fit into their surf sound category. It was common in those early days to take super familiar standards like "Little Brown Jug," and surf them up. This is actually one of their best tracks, sporting more energy and fun than most. "Lone Star Stomp (Hash Board)" was also released as "Hash Board" on the Ten Tons Of Wet release.

The Corvairs - Something Wild dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Hand claps and raw guitar play basic riffin' progression over a budding surf beat. This grows on you, in part because it's got energy and great drums, and because it sports primitive early distortion.

The Crusaders - Moving Out dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Moving Out" is a raw number with a Midwest sound, perhaps 1963 or 4. The guitar has definite surf tone. It's a primitive recording, with a sax in the background, and if not for the riff, there's be little melody. Still, it's kinda fun and cool.

The Emotions - Mashed Potatoes dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Mashed Potatoes" is a modestly cool riff rocker. While from 1963, it has no connection to surf at all. truly just a primitive riff rocker.

The Ewen Brothers Three - Nashville dotdotdot
Country (Instrumental)

The Ewen Brothers Three's "Nashville" is a delightful country romp. Rich tone and a very fun melody line in near surf tone. All fun, no muss!

The Four Satins - Drop Off dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This sounds like presurf twang at times, but then there are the glissandos and double picking. Heavy on the echo, and raging with energy. "Drop Off" is pretty frantic. It's not about finesse! Originally issued as the flip side to a vocal titled "Hip Hop."

Red Garrison and his Zodiacs - Big Rumble dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Echo laden, tremolo mortified, and sax rasped, "Big Rumble" is essentially Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" Raw and edgy, and garage cool.

The Handclappers - Three Gassed Rats dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Who would have guessed that "Three Gassed Rats" is a rockin' version of "Three Blind Mice" with raw guitars and a cheesy faux chorus! This is too much fun!

The Handclappers - The Other Side dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Gutty low down guitar trembled with tremolo plays a Duane Eddy-ish melody. Even the sax is there, so I'd say this is clearly inspired by the teen twanger.

The Hollywoods - Scramble dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Surfin' jam guitar, hand claps, and screaming frat house jump doesn't equal great surf. Like a Bruce Johnston tune reverbed, it belongs at parties, but not on stage where people actual pay to listen to surf music.

The Iridescents - Cool It Reba dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The lead guitar is reverbed here, as is surf. It's pretty hard to tell, but the great drums and pumping bass, and the two guitars seem about right for the period. "Cool It Reba" is a relatively heavy track, with boomy bass and no shortage of energy, though there's no double picking.

The Jaguars - The Dog Catcher dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Low brow riff rockin' frat style instro fair. Raw and primitive, but not particularly engaging. Super rare single originally the b-side to "Railroad Drag."

The Lancers - Torture dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a fresh arrangement of The Fendermen's "Torture," with exotic bongos and infectious rhythm. The drum work is unusual for 1963, especially for the Panama Canal Zone. Excellent twang and surf.

The Lancers - Dr. Casey Twist dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Dr. Casey Twist" is a slow rock number with a dance party feel. Sax and primordial twang with boos bass and drums. A cowbell and claps set this aside from the original influences. It's partly a variant of a Wailers tune and other classic instros, but is also not a copy.

The Lancers - Loch Lomond Twist dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Loch Lomond" is the obvious root of this track. Sax leads, muted guitar carries the rhythm, and the drums and bass just plug along. Pretty fun, but unremarkable.

Little Willie and Band - Hot Tamale dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

While really muddy, the wah wah warble and hillbilly boogie are an interesting blend. Very infectious, and with all the guitar effects like modulation and wah wah, it's clearly not from the fifties. While included on a number of "early rock instro" collections, this appeared on 45 in '75 or so in stereo, which had not penetrated singles until at least 1967.

The Mad Plaids - Blood Rare dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Heavy on the echo, with raw guitar and fifties style piano rolls. There's a honkin' sax break too. This is what frantic small label instros were all about before surf came along.

The Night Trains - Scramble dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

A nifty lead line, and an infectious rhythm coupled with excellent drum power evidence themselves on this fifties workout.

The Nocturnals - The Twister's Stomp dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Sax lead instrumental stompin' fun fill the air as "The Twister's Stomp" spins. A few Mickey Baker guitar riffs are lifted, and the the energy is really solid. While rooted in frat rock, this seems like much more.

The Orchids - 2:45 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A very cool riff is reverbed against a well suited rhythm section. Some double picked lines, and a very catchy main melody. This is a very cool track, but boy is this obscure! It definitely features reverb on the lead guitar, though the backtrack is not in a surf style. It has the sound and fury of the upper Midwest circa 1964, but that's a just a guess. Originally issued on Metzger FJM-101.

The Paladins - Party Time dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Party Time" is a seriously frat oriented rock instro. Saxophony and shouts.

The Roulettes - Just Foolin' Around dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a very rare track that sounds like it's from the upper Midwest. It's riffy with cool drums and a solid bass line. Augmented with demented shouts of the title and screams, "Just Foolin' Around" is pretty splashy. Originally issued on IT-2203.

The Starlites - Starlite Rock dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Starlite Rock" is just a stone's through from a typical guitar boogie shuffle. Add frantic squonkin' sax, and you're there. The end is almost as if the band falls apart.

The Starlites - Harmony Rock dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Rockin' sax and guitar rompin' away at the teen dance. Very high spirits, but not particularly memorable.

Sunny and the Four Shades - Beetle Boogie dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Basically a variant of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight Of The Bumble Bee" as arranged by The Ventures, but with lots of reverb and echo too. The playing is rough, but the surfband spirit sure is there!

The Teen Kings - Hep Cat dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This may predate surf, but it's got the dark twang and general attitude. "Hep Cat" has a long jammin' break, but is otherwise a riff surfer with guts.

The Triumphs - Draggin' Wagon dotdotdot
Fifties Rock (Instrumental)

Raw sax lead riff rockin' progression song. Like many instros of the day that were rightly relegated to the B-side, this has no melody, but features really tuff drums and an onslaught of energy.