Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Surfers Choicedotdotdotdot
artworkDick's first LP, made up of tracks recorded at the Rendezvous Ballroom, all poorly recorded, but a remarkable document of a magical time. What's important to note is the marvelous use of Ed Quarry's piano through out, especially on Death of a Gremmie.
Picks: Surf Beat, Sloop John B., Take It Off, Miserlou Twist, Peppermint Man, Surfing Drums, Shake-N-Stomp, Death Of A Gremmie, Let's Go Trippin'

Track by Track Review


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.

Sloop John B. dotdot
Folk (Vocal)

There's something magical about this vocal track. Don't ask me what it is, but it just hangs on like "Peppermint Man." Must be a sick puppy.

Take It Off dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Take It Off" is from the Rendezvous and the Surfers Choice album. It has Dick's heavy slightly reverbed sound, and it's quite the party surf cruncher.

Miserlou Twist dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This live performance of "Miserlou" is superb, if only you overlook the violins that were overdubbed later. Perhaps one day the undubbed tape will surface. Dick's superb playing and the immediacy of the live band are quite powerful.

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.

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.

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.

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'!

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."