Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Dick Dale and his Del-tones - The Singles And Other Great Stuffdotdotdotdot
artworkUntil either Sundazed or Rhino get to doing a decent vault purge on Dick Dale, this will just have to suffice to compliment the Rhino Best Of...and the GNP Crescendo... Greatest Hits..." CD's. It's entirely from vinyl, and at that is mostly from singles. There's some great surf, rock instros, and some of Dick's dreadful vocals. For those of you who thought Dick must have a new lead in the gray matter chamber which caused the lapse of style and talent exemplified by the inclusion of Fever in his latest CD, this will undo the myth. Dick has always had a penchant for bad vocals... Anyway, let's get to the meat and potatoes of the disc. While many of the tracks here are from stereo LP sources, they were singles also mono singles.
Picks: Let's Go Trippin', Del-Tone Rock, Jungle Fever, Shake-N-Stomp, Miserlou, Eight 'Till Midnight, Surf Beat, Peppermint Man, A Run For Life, King Of The Surf Guitar, Hava Nagila, The Wedge, Night Rider, The Victor, Mr. Eliminator, Thunder Wave, Spanish Kiss, Banzai Washout, Firing Up, Flashing Eyes, Nitro Fuel

Track by Track Review


Let's Go Trippin' dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dick Dale's August 1961 recording of "Let's Go Trippin'" is ahead of the surf sound, more a rock 'n' roll number than what would be later identified as surf. It is nevertheless a very important key to the development of the genre.

Dick's original Del-tones were a hell of a band. This session featured a seasoned Barry Rillera on sax, who had been in his brother Ricky Rillera's band the Rhythm Rockers (no relation to the surfband of that name), with whom Richard Berry had sung for over a year at Harmony Park between 1954 and 1955. It was at Harmony Park one Saturday night in 1955 that Richard heard them do Rene Touzet's "El Loco Cha Cha" for the first time, and was inspired by it's "duh duh duh, duh-duh" intro to write "Louie Louie."

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.

Jungle Fever dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Jungle Fever" is the single studio version of "Surfing Drums." It is actually a cover of Bo Diddley's "Hush Your Mouth." It's a great glimpse into those long lost times in Balboa when Dick Dale was King and the big Surf sound was just dawning. It's too bad that it fades out during the drum solo, but I suspect it segues into some other tune. Dick performed it live in the early nineties as "Jungle Bunnies" with the same voiced calls.

Shake-N-Stomp dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This Del-tone session is an early double picked track, before "Miserlou" as a single, but from the same period live. This track is often assumed to have been recorded at the Rendezvous, but reportedly was recorded at a small studio. Good grindage.

Miserlou dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The introductory note of Miserlou is somehow bigger than life. Dick's machine gun staccato is perfect. This is Dick Dale's biggest Del-tone singles, the incredibly archetypal "Miserlou" featured so prominently in Pulp Fiction. No comprehensive Surf collection should even be conceived without this song. This IS the sound of primal surf, the source of the idea of really LOUD guitar leads. It's reported that the arrangement was developed after Dick saw Johnny Barakat do it this way.

Eight 'Till Midnight dotdotdotdot
R&B Surf (Instrumental)

"Eight Till Midnight" was never included on an album, but was the b-side of "Miserlou." It's a very cool R&B theme song for the Rendezvous gigs. Memorable and poppy.

Surf Beat dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Demonstrating the power of CHUNK in surf, "Surf Beat" lent it's name to the genre, and clearly is a standard. A great performance captured live at the Rendezvous Ballroom and issued in 1962. This is the embodiment of rhythm based surf chunk.

If you want to play the chords right, when the lead and rhythm both play together, the rhythm guitar would "push" the chord downward, while the lead must "pull" the chord upward - remember, Dick Dale played left handed and used a right handed guitar upside down without restringing. That meant when he pushed the chord, it was the same as pulling it. I verified this with Dick personally in '88, so there ya go.

Peppermint Man dotdotdotdot
R&B (Vocal)

I usually don't like Dick's vocals at all, but for some reason, "Peppermint Man" captures me. It's just so endearing. It's a cover of Alonzo Willis' R&B obscuro.

A Run For Life dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The early Del-tone single version of the song that became "The Wedge," with the Del-tones as the band, and with Dick playing trumpet leads. It's way hokey at times, and gives you a clear glimpse at the difference between the history and sound surf music as you know it and the "world according to Dick Dale."

King Of The Surf Guitar dotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

The King has the Blossoms sing about him while he plays gorgeous notes on his guitar. An ego feed and anthem, and a lot better than the 1975 GNP version, but still... sure do love that guitar!

Hava Nagila dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Following up "Miserlou" (and the B-side of "King Of The Surf Guitar") most naturally meant another traditional Middle Eastern song, and who could have imagined that this song could have been so powerful at the hands of Dick Dale! A must have track!

The Wedge dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Hal Blaine's shredding machine gun drums add immeasurably to this rerecording of Dick's Del-tone single "A Run For Life," which Dick thankfully deleted the trumpet from. Thee most killer of all Dick's post-"Miserlou" tracks.

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.

The Victor dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track ranks as one of the great Middle Eastern surf epics. It is truly 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?

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.

Thunder Wave dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Thunder Wave" seems like a studio construction without much real meat. It's more like a fifties R&B groove than a surf instro, with prominent horns and an old-time rhythm.

Spanish Kiss dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Spanish Kiss" is a splendid flamenco inspired number played on an acoustic guitar, full of pomp and drama, and the chorus is not too distracting. A totally wonderful side trip in the Disk Dale songbook. He has since called this "F-16" and "Speardance."

Banzai Washout dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A really unusual sound for Dick as he mimics with increase bell-like tone the super and obscure Catalinas track written by mister studio sax player Steve Douglas, who played on most of Duane Eddy's tracks, as well as the Challengers and others. It's a great flying raging surf monster played in the mid registers with stellar guitar tones. Most unique. This track comes from Dick's last studio album of the sixties "Summer Surf."

Firing Up dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Firing Up" is a dark mid-tempo number that is still used by Dick in fragments during his sets. Mostly just a riff, but a catchy riff at that. Nice track.

Flashing Eyes dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of Dick's fastest and most-fun tracks. The studio session is not the best, but this must have been a shredder live. Its great call and response lead work and power glissandoes are totally killer! Marvelous.

Nitro Fuel dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Nitro Fuel" is a flashy bit of Dick Dale-ism, with a very cool riff and lots of flair. Rockin' and rollin' with reverb. The catchiness of the riff is quite something, and Dick's double picked flying fingers in the break are spectacular.