Phil Dirt - Reverb Central
PO Box 7240, Santa Cruz, CA 95061-7240 USA

release artwork

Merrell Fankhauser - California Live dotdotdotdot
Legend Music LM9007

This live CD features ex-Impacts guitarist/leader Merrell Fankhauser with none of the musicians from the recent Impacts recordings, nor the original lineup. It does include legendary session piano player Nicky Hopkins, and Revels founder Norman Knowles. This is not an Impacts CD, though a few of the tracks are liver versions of songs on their albums. It's more of an R&B / blues / rock jam - oldie review. Many of the tracks are vocals.

Picks: Wave Snake, Tequila

Wave Snake starstarstar
R&B Surf Instrumental (stereo)
Is this the same take as on the other CD's? "Church Key" whammy dips accent this track, which is fundamentally a progression, broken up with "Wipe Out" drums, and backed by Central Coast sax and guitar harmonies. There's quite a bit of R&B in this track.

Big Surf Drums starstarstar
Surf Instrumental (stereo)
Tom toms and gutty guitar notes relentlessly plop out tribal themes, with lap steel accents. It's super-simple, but intriguing.

Wipe Out starstarstar
Surf Instrumental (stereo)
I don't get it. Maybe this is an effort to prove the point. What point? Merrell Fankhauser has long maintained that the Surfaris copped their hit "Wipe Out" from his song of the same name, though no identifiable similarity exists to my ears, and no legal claim has prevailed in court. Why am I telling you this? Because the introduction to this song is Merrell's "Wipe Out ,"and the rest is the Surfaris' "Wipe Out." I think it demonstrates the lack of similarity. This is a pedestrian version of the Surfaris' hit. There's just no matching Ron Wilson's drumming.

Tequila starstarstar
Mariachi Pop Instrumental (stereo)
Chuck Rio's grand composition is well played here, with elements of the Central Coast sound, but mostly a fairly accurate and spirited rendering of the Champs' original hit. Fun, but nothing special or new.

Sleep Walk starstarstar
Fifties Lap Steel Instrumental (stereo)
This is a precise rendering, but not as sweet as Santo & Johnny's, and the arrangement is nothing new or special.