Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA Dick Dale and his Del-tones - King Of The Surf Guitar
|Rhino's first vinyl collection of the best of Dick Dale's sixties output. This is the lp (along with an air check of my show) that inspired Jim Thomas to write and record surf, and eventually form the Mermen.|
Picks: Let's Go Trippin', Shake-N-Stomp, Miserlou, Peppermint Man, Take It Off, Surf Beat, Hava Nagila, King Of The Surf Guitar, (Ghost) Riders In The Sky, The Wedge, Night Rider, The Victor, Tidal Wave, Banzai Washout
Track by Track Review
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."
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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 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!
(Ghost) Riders In The Sky
Cowpoke Surf (Instrumental)
Dick Dale does the Stan Jones classic with his usual guitar style. It's a pretty darn cool track. The double picking adds to the tune immensely.
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" 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.
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?
More studio construction without much real interest.
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."