Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Les Fantomes - L'Integrale Sixtiesdotdotdotdot
artworkThis is a grand collection of virtually everything from France's Les Fantomes. These tracks span just three years, from 1962 through 1964. What makes this band important to the surf community is the use of reverb on many tracks in lieu of echo as was common outside the US, and even the original song that The Snow Men used for their classic "Ski Storm."

You will have to look high and low for this double CD set, and then you'll need to have historic perspective, but the search is well worth it. The music is part surf, part Euro guitar rock, part pop-rock. Four excellent musicians, with very good guitar work and especially strong drumming.
Picks: Golden Earrings, Fort Chabrol, Original Twist Guitar, Shazam, Cafard, Train Fantome, Mefie-Toi, Twist 33, Walk Don't Run, Marche Twist, Je Ne Veux Pas T'aimer, Watch Your Step, Mustang, La Shlap, Logic, Lover's Guitar, Le Grand Depart, Archimede, Marche Des Aigles, Partisans, Bastic, Moulin Rouge, Tolhrac, Les Yeux Noirs, Caravane, Stone City, Summertime, Elle Est Passee

Track by Track Review


Golden Earrings dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Daniel Flapp classic melody, first a hit for Marlene Dietrich, is done with great reverb sustained tone and the flavor of surf tonally with a rock beat. A very nice track.

Fort Chabrol dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This is a great track. It borders on surf a lot from a tone standpoint, with Hank Marvin-esq playing and a great rock beat. "Fort Chabrol" is a rock solid recording with real charm. Slightly spaghetti westernish, with a very attractive sound.

Original Twist Guitar dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Original Twist Guitar" is a nifty riff rocker. It's melody line cycles a bit, and changes just enough verse to verse, with some really cool variations. The muted break is very surfy. A really cool track.

Shazam dotdotdot
Country Rock (Instrumental)

Duane Eddy's hit is done with spunk and charm, and country edge. Sparkling tone and a nearly banjo rhythm guitar, along with excellent drums, make "Shazam" a very fun track.

Cafard dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Cafard" doesn't sound at all like its title might suggest. "Cockroach" (really) led me to expect something kinda goofy and fun, or perhaps gross, but this is a lovely slow melodic romantic song with a bit of a sad feeling and island chords.

Train Fantome dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Galloping bass and drums and romp with an open range ecstasy beneath a slightly sad melody guitar that's half way between surf and the desert, and a very cool rhythm guitar. "Ghost Train" has just a hint of haunted ambiance, but it is mostly a marvelous traveling song. I like this a lot!

Mefie-Toi dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Mefie-Toi" ("Be Wary") is a song built on a tasteful melody riff and shallow whammy that's part surf, part Shadows. Great drums and bass, and sparkling tone.

Twist 33 dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Twist 33" is a basic rock intro riff rocker. It's an infectious number in some ways, but in others, it's just well done. Great drums romp in the break with frantic energy. A moody voice announces "33" in French from time to time.

Walk Don't Run dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This is a very well done cover of The Ventures' 1960 recording of Johnny Smith's venerable tune. Great drums and bass, and superb lead playing.

Marche Twist dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Marche Twist" ("Twist Walk") uses an almost military cadence and a simple but elegant melody riff. It's a very nicely done tune with occasional surf whammy.

Je Ne Veux Pas T'aimer dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Je Ne Veux Pas T'aimer" ("I Do Not Love You") is a pretty song with a bit of intensity in the lead tone, and some really good drumming. Island cool and whammified, it really grows on you as it progresses.

Watch Your Step dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Watch Your Step" is all about the trembling delay on the lead guitar, which provides a sort of rainy day feeling. It's a fine song in the European mold.

No Man's Land
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Great twangy coolness abounds in "No Man's Land." It's a bouncy and infectious echo laden rocker with surf creds. The melody riff is unique and very catchy. Recorded in 1962, this same song would appear a year later rerecorded by The Snow Men (future Sun Rays) under the title "Ski Storm."

The Mexican dotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

The Shadows' "The Mexican" is played prettily with heavy echo on the guitar. While very competent, this is mostly dismissible.

Mustang dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Dark second guitar opens what becomes a galloping open range song with a sense of adventure. The heavy guitar echo, in my opinion, takes away from what could have been a killer western instro.

La Shlap dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Big drums and great drums play off each other. The melody riff is a cross between "No Man's Land" and "What'd I Say." Great energy and bounce, and especially tough drums! The way the drum solo and bass work together is reminiscent of some psych jams a few years later, or maybe Sandy Nelson.

Jamin The Twist Part 1 dotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Big drum work pops up from time to time, while the guitar twangs and jams. If not for the drums, "Jamin The Twist Part 1" would be only a jam. Totally non melodic.

Jamin The Twist Part 2 dotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

More jammin' rampage.

Original Twist Guitar dotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This stereo take is pretty interesting. It's clearly an outtake. The bass is distorted and the mix very rough. I always dig hearing developmental work.

Mustang dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This is a crude take of "Mustang," with too much bass, which is also distorted. Developmentally interesting, and arranged somewhat differently than the release version.

Golden Earrings dotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Very similar to the release version, this take is less powerful in performance and sound.

Jammin' The Twist dotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This is a straight rock jam. Nothing much going on musically, though the energy is strong and the drums rock!

Logic dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This is one pretty song, with stunning guitar tone and a gentle flow. Also called "Reflexion," "Logic" has a bit of island beauty, and just a hint of sadness.

Lover's Guitar dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Muted echoed guitar with spatial acoustic reverb launches a bouncy, soaring song with grace and a cool melody line. Very nice track.

Le Grand Depart dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Le Grand Depart" has a loud twang that's haunting and desert like. There's a lot of drama here, as well as excellent arranging. With the kind of spaghetti ethics achieved by King Of Hawaii, and the sweeping epic sound of period twang, the song is very engaging and enjoyable.

Archimede dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Archimede" employs echo for delay, and big twang in a part country, part Shadows style that's endearing. Pretty nice.

Marche Des Aigles dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Walk With Eagles" is a catchy number with dramatic drums and bass, and flying guitars. Right from the start, the song captures and keeps your attention. The drums are standout cool.

Partisans dotdotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Great semi military drums pound out a monster beat while the guitar drives a dramatic circular melody. "Partisans" is a superb track. The drums are very good, and the rest of the band is playing top notch. Way cool!

Bastic dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Featuring ultra low melody the way Jet Harris used to do it, "Bastic" is an enticing track with a very good melody. Picturesque melody lines and imagery, and superb drums!

Hully Bach dotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Hully Bach" is an aggressive treatment of a Bach melody. Big whammy dips are off set by a goofy chorus. In the end, it's kinda jammy and ho-hum.

Moulin Rouge dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

The catchy melody of "Moulin Rouge" is well suited to the stylings of Les Fantomes. Big twang and great rolling drums.

Que Ton Coeur Me Soit Fidele
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Que Ton Coeur Me Soit Fidele" ("That Your Heart Is Faithful For Me") is a throw away, with a dreadful chorus that puts it in the same league as so many old folks rock wanna be covers.

Tolhrac dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Sandy Nelson drums and rhythm guitar similar to The Animals' "I'm Cryin." The drum solo is the main feature. It's better than most, and on par with some of Sandy Nelson's cooler solos. Great energy and power!

Les Yeux Noirs dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This is a classy rockin' cover of Yevhen Hrebinka's "Dark Eyes." Great drums and guitar playing with pumping bass. Really nice.

Caravane dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This is an unusual arrangement of Duke Ellington's "Caravan." It's slower and more delicate in some ways, but is not at all restrained in delivery. The bongos and raspy sax add a beat generation edge to this cool cover.

Elle Est Bien Bonne dotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"It Is Quite Good" is a kinda goofy sorta country number with haunted laughter. It's not melodic, just jammy and juvenile.

Stone City dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

"Stone City" portrays a sad western image atop a galloping rhythm section. Its spaghetti influence is fairly clear, and the muted reverb lead guitar in the break adds surf to the mix. Very cool!

Blackbird dot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Gross chorus and a pop melody reference the myriad of popsters of the era. Pretty darn forgettable.

Summertime dotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

George Gershwin's "Summertime" gently flows as the rim shots are echoed across the soundscape. There's a chorus that detracts from what's otherwise a nearly surfable version of this song.

Hully Bach dotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This over compressed alternate is fun and was understandably unreleased. The drums are the best part.

Que Ton Coeur Me Soit Fidele dot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This alternate take of "Que Ton Coeur Me Soit Fidele" is dull and not very inspired.

Blackbird dot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

A big muddy take of "Blackbird" that's overbearing in its murkiness.

Summertime dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This is perhaps just the undubbed take of "Summertime." Remove the chorus and the song becomes very cool. Echoed rims shots and surfish guitar create a haunting sound.

Elle Est Passee dotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

This is the backtrack to the vocal "Elle Est Passee," and it's in stereo. While missing a lead melody, it's nonetheless a very pleasant track that stands on its own. Great stop-start breaks.