Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Merrell Fankhauser - Rockin' And Surfin' Vol. 4dotdotdotdot
artworkSurf legend Merrell Fankhauser's latest set of instrumentals is sweeping and majestic, with dramatic melodies and spatial sound. While quite a distance from traditional surf, there's no question that the sea is in virtually every song's imagery. I found this CD immediately enjoyable, and very well played. It's certainly on the easy side, and very well thought out.
Picks: Signals From Zoran, Stardazed, Oceano, Bimini Road, Catalina USO, Waterstart, Area 51, Crash Landing, Aliens In The Mist, Skinny Dippin, Shadow People, Cocktails In Space, Star Spangled Banner

Track by Track Review


Signals From Zoran dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Signals From Zoran" is a lovely, slow song with pristine tone and big drama. It's imagery is cinematic is scope and power. There's no shortage of orchestral feeling, though it's just guitars, bass, and drums. Very cool!

Stardazed dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This lovely tune moves gently through a starry evening draped in a thin moonlight veil. "Stardazed" presents a sweeping panorama of the night sky, seen through rose colored glasses. Quite beautiful.

Oceano dotdotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Oceano" has a bright afternoon sea air smell in every line. Its playful melody and warm arrangement are pure enjoyment. The flute adds an aboriginal sense. It's a relaxing summer song about a nice little town near where Merrell Fankhauser lives. It makes you want to visit!

Bimini Road dotdotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

The natural limestone formations just off North Bimini Island in The Bahamas are often seen as remnants of a lost civilization. It is from this romantic view that this lovely song paints a picture of beauty and lushness. Long, pristine notes, sometimes bent with love, flow gently out of Merrell's guitar as if they were a brook running softly through virgin forests. Simply beautiful!

Catalina USO dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Eerie sounds, water lapping at the shore, and a somewhat uneasy melody set up a vision of an unidentified submerged object. I'm struck by the way this could have been an evolved Joe Meek track, mostly from the arrangement, effects, and use of a chorus. All that aside, "Catalina USO" is a slow but attractive surf instro, with double picked guitar and whammy.

Waterstart dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

An intriguing chord progression opens "Waterstart." It's a classic AABA progression based instro. Horns add period charm. This track has a feel of fifties rock, with sax and keys and that decade's structure.

Area 51 dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Weird keys and spatial ambiance precede a spooky number with an ominous unknown feeling. Drama, veiled danger, and desert night air permeate "Area 51" for a very visual look at the great unknown. Close your eyes and you see George Noory.

Crash Landing dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A fine rhythm track and cool tone deliver a gentle surf instro with great visuals and guitar work. Double picked, whammified, dangerous, and enticing. "Crash Landing" really caught my attention. Its modest pace is powerful when combined with its imagery. A very good arrangement and wonderful melody.

Aliens In The Mist dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Aliens In The Mist" uses liquid whammy and a very nice melody riff. It is a moderately paced number with rich sound and a classic structure under a wholly original melody.

Skinny Dippin dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This is a faster number with slide chords and a circular AABA progression. "Skinny Dippin" is fun with a classic rock instro structure. Liquid guitar and saucy sax.

Shadow People dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

With dungeonous ambiance and a spy-like melody line, "Shadow People" moves slowly along a lonely waterway. The violin adds sweetness to the sad melody. Mysterious and uneasy. The violin is superb!

Cocktails In Space dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Cocktails In Space" moves gently along with beautiful tone and playing. Gentle rain outside, flute inside, and pleasant thoughts for company. Very pretty.

Star Spangled Banner dotdotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Merrell Fankhauser has done a splendid job with "Star Spangled Banner." It's beautiful, richly toned, and displays great reverence for the subject matter. This is perhaps the prettiest, most endearing cover in rock.