Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Dick Dale - Better Shred Than Deaddotdotdotdot
artworkI'm not sure about this release. It's basically a good package. It is a really good representation of Dick's career, his familiar sound, his secret dreams, his roots, and his current side trip. There are some previously not-on-CD vintage tracks on disc one, and a whole lot of Dick's readily available less than stellar 80's/90's output on disc two. There are also some unusual tracks, and one previously unreleased track. If you're just starting on the Dickster's releases, this is a good entry point. If not, there's may be enough here to make it worth the price with must have tracks like Angry Generation and Flashing Eyes. If you are a collector of everything surf (like me), then there is nothing to decide. The artwork sucks, but John Blair's liners are excellent, as always.
Picks: Ooh-Wee-Marie, Stop Teasing, Jesse Pearl, Let's Go Trippin', Del-Tone Rock, Shake-N-Stomp, Miserlou, Surf Beat, Peppermint Man, Miserlou, A Run For Life, Take It Off, King Of The Surf Guitar, Hava Nagila, (Ghost) Riders In The Sky, The Wedge, Night Rider, Mag Wheels, Mr. Eliminator, Flashing Eyes, Banzai Washout, Tidal Wave, Spanish Kiss, Angry Generation, Ramblin' Man, Firing Up, King Of The Surf Guitar, Jesse Pearl, One Double One Oh, Nitro, Shredded Heat, Terra Dicktyl, Unknown Territory, Niterider, Bandito, Third Stone From The Sun, In-Liner

Track by Track Review


Ooh-Wee-Marie dot
Pop (Vocal)

A fifties vocal number. He was a better singer in those prehistoric days than he is now.

Stop Teasing dotdot
Pop (Vocal)

Another fifties vocal number with Jackie Wilson copy cat call and response backing vocals. He was a better singer in those prehistoric days than he is now.

Jesse Pearl dotdot
Pop (Vocal)

Pumping fifties piano, based loosely on Bony Marone. Not very interesting, or unusual.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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!

(Ghost) Riders In The Sky dotdotdotdot
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

Tidal Wave dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

More studio construction without much real interest.

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."

Angry Generation dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of the best things Dick ever did. It's quite simple, but it has the most ominous tones anywhere on a surf record, and it is essential Dick Dale listening. The huge sound of Dick's guitar, and the slow-gallop staccato is unsurpassed.

Ramblin' Man dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Hank Williams tune. Dick was first drawn to music by Hank's whine, and it's no surprise that he recorded a Williams number. It may not be pure country, and it's definitely post surf, but it's actually listenable. The complete absence of Dick's big guitar sound is very odd.

Firing Up dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Playing with his audience, Dick does a haltingly stretched out version of this mid-tempo track from his golden era. It's almost visual in it's deliberate slow pacing in front of Dick's fans. This is from his eighties album The Tiger's Loose.

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!

Jesse Pearl dotdot
Pop (Instrumental)

Pumping fifties piano, based loosely on Bony Marone. Not very interesting, or unusual.

One Double One Oh dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This track is actually a backtrack for a KRLA 1110 AM Pasadena logo Dick Cut in the mid eighties. One (1) Double One (11) Oh (0) = 1110 - get it? It was issued by KRLA on 12 inch, and this appeared as the B-side. It's also the bed for a mid eighties demo song Dick Wrote called "V-65" (I think) which has never been released. Interesting side note to Dick's long career, and nice addition to this CD.

Nitro dotdotdotdot
Anthemic Surf (Instrumental)

This track has become Dick's anthem for the 90s. A lot of bands are covering it, because it's fast and infectious, even though there's little melody. It's a hot track, and Dick's playing is superb.

Shredded Heat dotdot
Not (Instrumental)

Dick's "What'd I Say" riff worked into yet another song that he's been playing for a while, also known as "Desert Storm." It's repetitious.

Terra Dicktyl dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The drums sound like they were in a warehouse, way down at the other end from the session. Fast ominous guitar playing the same riff repeatedly.

Unknown Territory dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The fourth version of "The Victor." It's cool with it's choppy rhythmic structure. Slow, tortured, and different, with plenty of intensity... just too slow!

Niterider dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Also known as "Spanish Kiss," "F-16," and "Niterider," the chant-like guitar work with Indian whoops is not very interesting.

Bandito dotdotdot
Not (Instrumental)

A listenable track, but it's mostly a progression and a lot of Dick's showoff licks.

Third Stone From The Sun dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

OK, but way too many Dickisms on the old Strat. According to interviews, Jimi Hendrix saw Dick play a couple of times, and was inspired because they were both left handed playing right handed guitars upside down without restringing. Otherwise, they never met as far as I can tell. Before Jimi's death, Dick told me that he had "heard the Jimi learned from me, but I don't know." Nowadays, Jimi was his dear friend. Go figure. The spoken intro is just plain garbage.

In-Liner dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

From the SegaSoft high speed CD-ROM game Rocket Jockey issued in December of '96, this is a pretty decent version of "Surf Beat" also called "Surf Beat '97." It is a lot like his stage show version, but still a good listen.