Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Esquires - Flashing Reddotdotdot
artworkArchival issue of really old tapes from the legendary Esquires. Previously, only "Flashing Red" and "What A Burn" have surfaced on CD. The quality is not the best, but the historic nature of these sessions is unquestionably cool. Much of the vocal content displays why surf bands shouldn't sing, but on the other hand, they also show the coolness of a surf backtrack under standards like "Summertime Blues." The version of "Louie Louie" is very Kingsmen-like, but even cruder, and it sports the wrong chords. They ended their life as the Police in 1968.
Picks: Flashin' Red, What A Burn, Runaway, High Tide, Squad Car, Mile Zero, Batman, Earthquake, Hideaway, No Left Turn, Scratchy, Lucille

Track by Track Review


Flashin' Red dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The sirens and the traffic sounds and a basic dry surf arrangement with pounding drums and a cool melody. Infectious, with dribbling glissandoes, it's a great example of teenage surf from 1963. A nice addition to your library, but not essential listening. "Flashin' Red" is introduced with an aircheck from KASK (?).

What A Burn dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dry surf dribbling, simple progression, nice but not killer. Weak performance energy wise, but it was a hit back East.

Runaway dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a muddy recording from KASK in 1964. The performance is gentle and pretty, and pretty straight. A nice track.

High Tide dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a fairly spirited performance for a band that seemed pretty tame. The mix is awful, but they could play it well enough, and it is a glimpse into a golden moment. The sax part is replaced by guitar to positive effect. Recorded at KASK.

Squad Car dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It's weird to hear such a soft opening to this Paul Johnson classic. Maybe it's because the drums are almost unheard that it lays there so softly. Excellent reverb and tasty picking. From KASK.

Mile Zero dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Murky reverby surf, which shows the the power of the drummer when the song comes to the break where the drums can actually be heard. Chunky and rhythmic.

Batman dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

You can tell that the Esquires picked this up from the Surfaris' "Play" which has the titles reversed between "Batman" and "Movin'," both Lee Hazelwood tunes. It's a tame performance, but it has a certain suaveness about it. From KASK.

Earthquake
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a cover of the Nobles' tune from their VJ album, though given the "Batman" title snafu, this likely was taken from the Surfaris' album. The arrangement is closer to that. Gutsy reverby surf, with very cool effects on the EchoPlex. From KASK.

Hideaway dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This version of Freddie King's "Hideaway" is from a 1964 rehearsal. It's a decent cover of a tune many of the surf bands played live. Somewhat spirited, but nothing special.

No Left Turn dotdot
Frat (Instrumental)

This crudely cut tune is mostly a chord progression. Not much serves as a melody, but it fits the 1964 frat party sound just fine. From a 1964 rehearsal.

Scratchy dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Travis Wammack's lone hit is weirded out without fuzz. It sounds a little too tame without the edge, but I suppose that's the result of the dull tape. The funniest bit here is when the backwards talking on the original is uttered just like it was meant to be said that way. very cool.

Lucille dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Straddling surf and rock, this instro version of Little Richard's hit is party fun and spirited, though a little rough.