Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
El Ray - Highwave To Helldotdotdotdot
artworkThis is a totally solid retrospective of this fine band, with the added bonus of a number of newly released tracks added for good measure. Recommended, this CD has a large volume of great tracks.
Picks: Circus Monkey, Casbah, The Spider, The Plan, Spacecar 2001, The Cashier, Jack The Samurai (Defeats All Evil), Enter Skolastik, The Agent vs. The Next Mexican, Hypnotic, The Danger Of TV Radiation, Car Hire From Hell, From Kazakhstan With Love, Carlos, Chainsaw Boogie, El Coyote, The Paratrooper, The Man With The White Tie, Volcano, White Trash Caravan, Tornado, El Ray

Track by Track Review

Circus Monkey dotdotdotdot
Spy Surf (Instrumental)

Dark and thrashy, "Circus Monkey" screams glissandos and surfisms in a heavy syrup of tubular destruction. An excellent powerhouse of green water assault.

Casbah dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Richie Podolor's "Casbah" is given a different face that is both restrained and powerful. In some ways, it's like the Mermen version, and in others, it's gentle. Very rich and cool.

The Spider dotdotdotdot
Spy Surf (Instrumental)

"The Spider" starts off slow and easy, but quickly launches into a thick swirl of chords and double picked frenzy. Very adventurous and refreshing.

The Plan dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tweaky, twisted, demented... and that's the opening. "A Shot In The Dark" at an evil asylum where the inmates are in charge. Quirky and playful, and very cool.

Spacecar 2001 dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Spacecar" is a heavy surf thrasher with a dark mean edge. Mostly rhythm dominated and forceful, it fires a barrage of guitar bullets with impunity. More rock than surf, but very strong and double picked at times with a vengeance.

The Cashier dotdotdotdot
Spy Surf (Instrumental)

This low key number sports a rich melody line and very pleasing arrangement. "The Cashier" is dramatic in a downplayed and sad way. Very cool indeed!

Jack The Samurai (Defeats All Evil) dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

On the spy side of surf, with duel lead guitars and organ, "Jack The Samurai (Defeats All Evil)" is a thick and powerful song with a surf-discotheque sound. Big twang chords and pumping bass break.

Enter Skolastik dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

From an angular start, "Enter Skolastik" becomes a very cool instro with an attractive melody line and rhythmic second guitar, along with tom tom action. It's a very pleasing song.

The Agent vs. The Next Mexican dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Spaghetti western structure and whistling a la Ennio Morricone, this slow and haunting song is very scenic and appealing in a relaxed sadness kind of way.

Hypnotic dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Rhythmic chunk and spooky European spy melody lines haunt this interesting instrumental. "Hypnotic" is an unusual and attractive song with a kind of crystalline feel, coupled with just a touch of spaghetti western.

The Danger Of TV Radiation dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Brash guitar chords, stereo echoed guitar lead spookiness, and an ominous backtrack... "The Danger Of TV Radiation" presents a dangerous sound in an uneasy arrangement that's quite befitting the title.

Car Hire From Hell dotdotdot
Danger Desert Surf (Instrumental)

With a big chord intro like Rumble and sliced choking, "Car Hire From Hell" launches right into a double picked rampage of sound. Giant and intense.

From Kazakhstan With Love dotdotdotdot
Danger Desert Surf (Instrumental)

Cool percussion and groovy spy organ run beneath a pair of tasty guitars, one playing a trembling melody, and the other playing a captivating pattern The swap roles in the breaks. "From Kazakhstan With Love" is a very cool track with a suave edge.

Carlos dotdotdotdot
Danger Desert Surf (Instrumental)

"Carlos" must be a loner, 'cuz this song portrays a lone character of the kind spaghetti westerns are often about. Some fast tense verses, some more emotional, and some feedback. This is a thick and layered track with a very large sound. It seems to transverse great expanses. Quite engaging.

Chainsaw Boogie dotdotdotdot
Danger Surf (Instrumental)

"Chainsaw Boogie" moves slowly with richness and a gloomy underbelly. The whistling organ and chorus create a sense of dungeons and gloom, while the bass and drums bode ill for the morrow, and the big chords rule. There are many darknesses wrapped up in this track, and a rising sense of layered nervousness. As the wash rises in density, the tension rises along with it.

El Coyote dotdotdotdotdot
Danger Desert Surf (Instrumental)

This slow track does a fine job of portraying a desert view where lone predators hunt prey. It's a lonesome track with great whammy chords and a long view. Drama, beauty, volume, and haunted shadows. Cowboy meets the surf in a halfpipe.

The Paratrooper dotdotdotdot
Danger Desert Surf (Instrumental)

Nervous intense notes, large grumble, and dark danger emote from this minimalist track. It's not melodic, but rather is all about setting a scene of threatening and forbidding images. Very heavy, with a thick and thunderous sound.

The Man With The White Tie dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"The Man With The White Tie" is a grand spy-ish number with mystery throughout, as well as a melodic flow. Rich textures and a slightly ominous edge grant this track a very cool sound. The double picked verse is quite nice.

Volcano dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Volcano" is a strong stomper with double picked lead power and spy charm. Its mysterious melody and powerful delivery make it quite menacing and compelling.

White Trash Caravan dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Well now, "White Trash Caravan" is a lumbering number with a dark underbelly and circulating riff. The drama rises as the song proceeds. Seriously sound track bound, it's commanding and big. Inserted shouted lines add a demented edge. It doesn't really musically suggest anything white trash, and there's no musical reference to a caravan, stylistically or as a borrowed element from Duke Ellington.

Tornado dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This demo version of "Tornado" really rocks. Excellent rhythm and lead guitars, rock solid bass, and superb drums. Driving compressed double picked leads ride atop a high energy bed. Excellent!

El Ray dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Choppy percussive and playful, "El Ray" has some of the feel of the Mermen with heavy duty driving. Great energy and power, with intense guitar lines. Lots of rock edge.