Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Dead Men Don't Surf - Tumbleweeds Jan 2000dotdotdotdot
artworkJay Hector captured this three set performance of Dead Men Don't Surf at Tumbleweeds in January of 2000. Who are Dead Men Don't Surf? Ron Eglit (Dick Dale) - guitar, Dusty Watson (Dick Dale, Slacktone), - drums Kerry Chester (Surftones) - guitar, keyboards, Don Parra (Torquays) - bass, Jack Hammer (Jack Hammer Band) - sax, and Duff Paulsen (Torquays) - drums on a few tracks. While this is more about having a great time playing music they love, it's not like the jam that might suggest. It's a fascinating sound of vintage surf instrumentals infused with blues and psychedelic and garage. Even the vocals are pretty interesting, like the amazing version of the Seeds' "Pushin' Too Hard." Vocals in the set include "Secret Agent Man," "Brown Eyed Girl,"
Picks: Endless Summer, Out Of Limits, The Wedge, Mr. Moto, Surf Beat / Peter Gunn / Secret Agent Man, Walk Don't Run / California Sun / Perfidia / Tequila, Pipeline / Truth Is So Hard To Find / Break On Through, Penetration, Miserlou, Hanky Panky, Pushin' Too Hard, Baja, Gloria / Ferry Across The Mersey / Last Time, Whittier Blvd., Stoked, Walk Don't Run, Apache, Journey To The Stars, For What It's Worth / Season Of The Witch, Wipe Out

Track by Track Review


Endless Summer dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a rich and delicate version of the Sandals' classic film score, with rich almost lap steel accents. The lead is damped and only slightly reverbed. The shimmering of the second guitar mixed with romantic bass and perfectly brushed drums. Ron Eglit narrates misadventure and an introduces the band as ."..Dead Men Don't Surf, better known as the Dickless Del-tones." In places, you can detect the artful influence of the Mermen and the keyboard prowess of sixties West Coast jazz, alongside some Steve Miller-isms.

Out Of Limits dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A little on the slow and restrained side, Dead Men Don't Surf do a delicately reverent performance of the Mar-Kets' classic. The addition of double picking and Dusty's rolling drums make it seem exotic, like hearing it wafting through the summer air from across the river. The midsection is extended and updated.

The Wedge dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is Dick Dale's classic ode to the waves of Balboa where he lived when he wrote it. Where many speed it up and wail unmercifully with it, Dead Men Don't Surf slow it and soften it, yet it loses none of it's power. Speed and amplitude are replaced with style, and the underlying brilliance of the writing becomes center stage. Amazing how gorgeous this song really is.

Mr. Moto dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Precision and honor is bestowed on the Belairs' amazing "Mr. Moto." In a refined and restrained setting, the song retains its magical grip. The electric piano sure is nice to hear. Very smooth.

Surf Beat / Peter Gunn / Secret Agent Man dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Like Dick Dale in a liquid groove, Ron Eglit delivers the "Surf Beat" goods in a slower format than the Dickster. Even at this reduced pace, the power of "that" rhythmic chunk is immense. Jack Hammer's sax in the bridge is quite tasteful, as is its solo. After a four minute foray through the glories of "Surf Beat," they bring it down and down, then immediately following the "finale," they groove into "Peter Gunn" with major chunk and bump. Nasty sax, surf rhythm, and that immense Henry Mancini groove. At about seven minutes in, "Peter Gunn" becomes "Secret Agent Man," well sung and groovy.

Walk Don't Run / California Sun / Perfidia / Tequila dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Softly understated, yet richly toned, the Ventures' original arrangement is liquefied with island string bending. Very nice rendition. A minute or so in, it morphs into the Rivieras' "California Sun," which soulfully groove and flows with great surf tone. The transition into is spectacular, as is the guitar tone. Then, after a drum extravaganza, Dead Men Don't Surf break into the Champs' "Tequila," which is delivered with ample sax squirts and Latin rhythm, and winding up in a very Grateful Dead sounding jam that's just to cool. It's all like a journey through the classic era with warm memories and a Pacifico.

Pipeline / Truth Is So Hard To Find / Break On Through dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Strait from the heart with liquid keys and dribbling guitar, Dead Men Don't Surf pay tribute to ."..the third most recognizable surf song on the planet." This song is just so well written that it stands up to many hundreds of interpretations without giving up any of its magical charm. Shimmering keys, great glissandoes, throbbing rhythm... as you'd expect. The slightly psychedelic midsection tips a nod to the Doors' "Riders on the Storm," moodily grooving through subtle power before arriving at "Truth Is So Hard To Find." Then, past a swirling couple of minutes of glorious rhythm, another vocal is presented that I do not recognize, but has a middle eastern melody line. It closes with a line or two from the Doors' "Break On Through." The end is ushered in with a return to "Pipeline." Incredible tribal drums from Mr. Watson throughout!

Penetration dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Pure SoCal surf delivered with exquisite guitar work from Ron Eglit. Solid and whammified, with that perfect "Penetration" rhythm. Magical!

Miserlou dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Miserlou" is such a versatile piece of music that tempo and arrangement seem never to matter. Surf at a slower pace, delicately played and rhythmically backed, with classic surf style piano. Very emotional and perfectly wonderful.

Hanky Panky dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tommy James and the Shondells' first hit gets the surf bar band treatment. Groovy and twangy, "Hanky Panky" sports a long surf guitar midsection with stinging whammy. The Dick Dale chord plucking adds so much to this...

Pushin' Too Hard dotdotdotdot
Surf Punk (Vocal)

Surf guitar behind the Seeds' classic snotty punk rage is a magical combination. Darryl Hooper's piano lines are retained for extra credit, and the long psychedelic guitar break is very smooth. "Pushin' Too Hard" has long been a fave of mine, and hearing it interpreted like this is nothing short of magic. Duff Paulsen (Torquays) plays drums on this track.

Baja dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Astronauts's "Baja" softened and restrained for island beauty with Duff on drums. This is a magnificent version of this Lee Hazelwood tune. The arrangement is stretched out and the band gels admirable on the jam. Ultra delicate damped plucking creates a pristine atmosphere and aquatic daydream.

Gloria / Ferry Across The Mersey / Last Time dotdotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

Surf guitar behind Belfast legends Them's ultra punk anthem "Gloria." Pure tribute, reverbed and sung like they mean it. When songs like this are rearranged for surf, you realize just how dependent of surf's melodic strength and tone these hits were, sometimes only separated by vocals and fuzz. A verse or two of Gerry and the Pacemakers' "Ferry Across The Mersey" yields to a reverbed treatment of the Rolling Stones' "Last Time," which again shows the power of the reverb. All this transitions into the final verse of "Gloria" for the finale. Totally cool.

Whittier Blvd. dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Thee Midnighters were an amazing Pachuko Soul band. Dead Men Don't Surf jam on their biggest hit like there's no tomorrow and Jimmy Smith was coming to dinner.

Stoked dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The stinging guitar in the break brings new life to this Beach Boys classic instro. It's extended with some very groovy surfisms and experimental string bending, and a verse from "Moovin' and Groovin'."

Walk Don't Run dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

More Ventures like, this performance is pure 1960 instro. Nice performance.

Apache dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

In deference to the Jorgen Ingman version, this is taken one step closer into surf with more reverb. Pretty and fluid.

Journey To The Stars dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A relatively straight take of one of the Ventures' most powerful surf instros. Great double picking and solid rhythm and percussion. With a surfier than thou approach and a restrained pace, "Journey To The Stars" comes alive with new sounds and power.

For What It's Worth / Season Of The Witch dotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

"For What It's Worth" is very soulful, with "Season Of The Witch" taking up the middle. Harmonica brings in the blues, and the shimmering vibrato guitar holds the surf edge.

Wipe Out dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Surfaris' "Wipe Out" is played for the punters with fire and new guitar lines spitfired against raging glissandoes and pumping drums and bass.