Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Dick Dale and his Del-tones - Surfin' and a Swingin'dotdotdot
artworkThis 1995 two-CD set is compiled from the three vinyl bootlegs on the Surf label. Most of disc one is vocal, most of disc two is intro. Sources are all vinyl, many very noisy. No attempt was made to clean up the sound. Still, if it's yur only source for vintage Dick Dale, go for it.
Picks: Surfing Drums, Del-Tone Rock, Jungle Fever, Eight 'Till Midnight, Surf Beat, A Run For Life, Break Time, Surf Buggy, Mag Wheels, Ho-Dad Machine, Motion, Taco Wagon, Death Of A Gremmie, Miserlou, Mr. Eliminator, Flashing Eyes, Firing Up, Nitro Fuel, Surfing Rebel, Spanish Kiss, Summer Surf, Thunder Wave, King Of The Surf Guitar, Hava Nagila, (Ghost) Riders In The Sky, Take It Off, Shake-N-Stomp, Let's Go Trippin', The Wedge, Night Rider, Miserlou, Watusi Jo

Track by Track Review


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.

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.

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.

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."

Break Time dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

While this is a standard R&B set ender to talk over or use like bumper music in radio, it is a really nice track. It has character and flows quite nicely. The sound of reverb guitar and the surf to be, coupled with Dick's pre-surf R&B and rock 'n' roll standards gigs at the Rinky Dink meld nicely in this simple and pleasing track.

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.

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.

Ho-Dad Machine dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The slow slither of the surf sound is seductive in this simple instro. The "bup-bup" Doo-woppy male chorus subtracts from the coolness.

Motion dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Motion" is a very nice moderately paced and melodic R&B-ish instro. Quite simple and old school, yet enjoyable and groovy in a motion oriented way. Great for a top down summer drive.

Taco Wagon dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Despite it's oomp-pa-pa quality, this is one heck of a great song. It's from the Mr. Eliminator album, and has been covered frequently. "Taco Wagon" has more Mexican flavor than the nachos at Taco Bell... really. It's a great 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'!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Surfing Rebel dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

While this is a piano plinky happy-go-lucky studio track, it's also one infectious Dick Dale melody. It has similar character to "The Star (Of David)" stylistically. Great dribbling glissandoes!

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."

Summer Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A light and frothy Dick Dale number with a melodic and infectious sound. It's very nice, as opposed to powerful. Good track.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

Watusi Jo dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Not a surf lick to be found, but it is a nifty composition for the post surf Dick Dale. The times, they were a changin'