Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Greatest Hits 1961-1975dotdotdotdot
artworkThis CD spans Dick's Del-tone and Capital years, and is augmented by the 1975 Jim Pewter / GNP Crescendo sessions that Dick hates so much. It overlaps the Rhino CD somewhat, but also compliments it with some early Del-tone Records sides and the GNP sessions.
Picks: Surf Buggy, Miserlou, Surf Beat, The Victor, Peppermint Man, Mr. Eliminator, Surfing Drums, Mag Wheels, Sloop John B., Night Rider, Let's Go Trippin', King Of The Surf Guitar, The Wedge, Del-Tone Rock, Death Of A Gremmie, Peter Gunn

Track by Track Review


Surf Buggy dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a really cool instrumental from the Checkered Flag album. It's chunky and rhythmic. It holds up well over the 35 years since it was recorded. A great track to drive to, and fun too. You can just see Dick grinning at his audience while they sway to this... One of Dick's best semi-slow surf numbers, rhythmic and very cool. The lumbering pace is just superb. A really nice track.

Miserlou dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is not the hit single. It's also not the Rendezvous version. This is from Dick's 1975 sessions at GNP, not far from when he recorded those ridiculous demos for RCA... The performance is very good, but the mix is less than energetic. Well worth having. This is it! There is nothing else after this! The first record of it's kind. The ripping monster of all time!!!!!

Surf Beat dotdotdotdot
Not (Instrumental)

From the GNP sessions, this has none of the immediacy of the Del-tone single, but much better sound quality. It's a tradeoff.

The Victor dotdotdotdot
Not (Instrumental)

Not the great Capital session, but from the GNP sessions in '75. It's a fine version, but suffers from the same weakness they all had, little energy in the mix, but a good performance. The Capital session is a lot stronger. This track ranks as one of the great Middle Eastern surf epics. It sports a minimal melody, but has an intensity all it's own, which lead the Mermen to include it in their infamous "Middle Eastern medley." Power, Intensity, Grace... what more do you want? This version is both better and lesser, depending on what you are looking for. More chunk and clarity, less energy and panache.

Peppermint Man dot
R&B (Vocal)

The GNP version is about like the Hightone version, lack luster and without the charm of the Del-tone single.

Mr. Eliminator dotdotdotdot
Not (Instrumental)

This version is from the Mr. Eliminator album. It's a bit of a contrast for Dick, big chords and whammy instead of double picked power house delivery, but a solid track nonetheless.

The Smithereens covered it in the eighties, which got MTV Europe's attention as they were getting ready to launch back in '89, and that caused them to contract with Dick Dale for a 10 second version for use as a logo.

Surfing Drums dotdotdotdot
R&B Surf (Vocal)

This mostly instrumental track is from the Surfers Choice LP on Del-tone (later reissued on Capitol as part of their deal with Dick). It was recorded live at the Rendezvous Ballroom in '62, and is actually a cover of Bo Diddley's "Hush Your Mouth," lyrics and all. It's a great glimpse into those long lost times in Balboa when Dick was King and the big Surf sound was just dawning. A great track. It's too bad that it fades out during the drum solo, but I suspect it segues into some other tune. Dick also recorded a version as a single called "Jungle Fever" with voiced monkey calls, as well as performed it live in the early nineties as "Jungle Bunnies" with the same voiced calls.

Mag Wheels dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another mostly instro track (except for the chanted drag race terms) that is truly rippin'! Gary Usher wrote it, and it's melody is quite infectious. It was a single as well as album track on Checkered Flag. Great playing, and way cool fun. It's also one of Dick's earliest sojourns into the glissando that the Chantays introduced into surf.

Sloop John B. dot
Not (Vocal)

This is the GNP version. It's too bad it's not cleaned up from the Del-tone sessions, cause that version is really quite a trip, just lousy sound. This is too Vegas for me, what with the chorus and all. Yet, the guitar is delicate and gorgeous!

Night Rider dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Night Rider" was a single and album track from the days with Capitol. It's mostly power oriented, with minimal melody, and really foretells the style Dick Dale uses so efficiently today.

Let's Go Trippin' dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is Dick Dale's 1975 GNP Crescendo version. He doesn't like it, and it is less twangy than the original, but it also is well played and much fuller sounding. It is just a little sterile.

King Of The Surf Guitar dot
Surf (Vocal)

This take of "King Of The Surf Guitar" is less gutsy and more showband-like than the Capitol version. The Vegas showgirls chorus doesn't cut it, but then neither did the Blossoms when they sang over Dick's great guitar licks.

The Wedge dotdotdotdotdot
Not (Instrumental)

Dick's third recording of one of his most enduring original compositions. From the GNP sessions, it has incredible playing, but limited punch. Really clean and a good listen.

Del-Tone Rock dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Del-Tone Rock" was the B-side of "Let's Go Trippin'" from the Del-tone days. It displays the tradition rock 'n' roll roots Dick Dale's early instro sound was born of, and also foretells the soon to be born surf sound. It also helps clarify the residency of the original version of "Let's Go Trippin'" on the pre-surf side of the boundary. A very fine track.

Death Of A Gremmie dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Recorded at the Rendezvous Ballroom and from the Surfers Choice album, this ranks as one of the best early pre surf ominous R&B instros, piano oriented, and very sad. Bitchin'!

Peter Gunn dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Peter Gunn" has evolved only slightly over the years Dick has used it as an opener. He's in rare form here, playing it smoothly and with guts.