Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Dick Dale - Guitar Legend: The Very Best Of Dick Daledotdot
artworkThis mp3 only release (September 2010) is likely a bootleg - no label - some tracks are mono with stereo artifacts obviously sourced from vinyl by an amateur. It spans 1961 through the nineties, and is a long way from a real best of. Great songs, poor quality.
Picks: Miserlou, Let's Go Trippin', Hava Nagila, (Ghost) Riders In The Sky, Shake-N-Stomp, King Of The Surf Guitar, Surfing Drums, Night Rider, Mr. Eliminator, Pipeline, Surf Beat, HMFIC, Surf Buggy, Esperanza, Nitro

Track by Track Review


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.

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."

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.

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.

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!

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.

Third Stone From The Sun dotdotdot
Not (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.

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.

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.

Pipeline dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the best of mid-eighties Dick Dale. He's backing Stevie Ray Vaughn here on a classic, and his speed and power shred the blues legend all to hell. They trade roles, with Stevie taking the lead for the first half, and Dick conquering the role in the second half. It was a single only on Columbia, so it's great to see it on CD here.

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.

HMFIC dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

High kick low-E shredding presented via a relentless one-note assault. that might sound dis-interesting, but remember this is Dick Dale. His sound and drive makes gives this so much power that the fire fight becomes the message. Pretty tuff.

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.

Esperanza dotdotdotdot
Not (Instrumental)

Dick Dale has been wowing the new Surf fans with his legend and guitar showmanship. "Esperanza" is one of his few new tunes, and it's a really cool Latin thing with a nice rambling listenability. There's a ton written about Dick, so I'll leave it there, except to say that this is a great track.

Nitro dotdotdotdot
Not (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.