Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Rick Gale and the Surf Riders - Let's Go Surfin'dotdotdot
This is the sort of thing that makes you crazy. Is it a brilliant parody of the studio system albums of the sixties, a "serious" studio project of the year 2000, or a genuine surf-light cover band? Here are some tidbits to gnaw on:

Cover ArtOne very sixties image used on the front, the back, and the inside tray.
Liner NotesA rambling dissertation by William Hogeland on the history and current state of surf music that's a combination of AMG almost-right and simply wrong, combined with belittling to modern surf fans, completely overlooking the bands and scene today. Check them out!
BandNot one word about the band in the liner notes. While players are listed below, there's no other information, no website, no address, no city, no country, nothing.
PerformersRick Gale - solo guitarsounds like Dick Dale
 Vince Eddy - rhythm guitarreferences Duane Eddy
 John Bruce - bassreversal of Bruce Johnston
 Randy Nelson - drumssounds like Sandy Nelson
 Pete 'Crazy" Murphy - sax, keys, rhythm guitarthink Dave "Baby" Cortez meets Murphy the Surfy
Songs24 tracks, all covers, mostly familiar, though a few widely reissued but off the beaten path songs are here, along with the Aqua Velvets' "Spanish Blue" for some reason.
Labelmade in Portugal with no address or website.
Audio QualityThe sleeve says Gold Disc "audiophile" recording, and while it appears to be a gold disc, the master was not normalized, with tracks ranging from 90% to as little as 50% level, with one even still containing a false guitar start.


If you think of this as surf light, as a kind of low key play sitting down while your guests mill about smartly set, then it works really well. Raging surf it's not, but pleasant afternoon tea surf it sure is.

Just who is Rick Gale and the Surf Riders anyway? Web searches turn up nothing. Your guess? Rick Gale sounds like a play on Dick Dale.

These are all well played and mostly restrained tracks that smack of studio project. The big question is, how did the Aqua Velvets' "Spanish Blue" get into this set?

The one vocal "Surfin' Bird" is, in a word, trying. It makes you grin 'cuz it's funny, but still!
Picks: Pipeline, Penetration, Baja, Spanish Blue, Ultimate Wave, Mr. Moto, Mr. Rebel, Ft. Lauderdale, Body Surf, Latin'ia, Surf Rider, Let There Be Surf, Walk Don't Run, Misirlou, The Rising Surf, Wipe Out, Let's Go Trippin', King Of The Surf Guitar, Riders In The Sky, Surfing At Mazatlan, A Shot In The Dark, Pintor, Hawaii 5-0

Track by Track Review


Pipeline dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Ventures live in this fairly true version of their cover. Though the performance is reverent to the period and competently played, it's a tepid track. There are a hundred more vital and interesting versions out there.

Penetration dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Low key, this is about the lightest weight cover of the Pyramids' "Penetration" I've heard in a darn long time. It makes a good party backdrop, but is just too restrained. This track includes a false start on the rhythm guitar.

Baja dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dry chop rhythm beneath a subdued lead guitar leaves Lee Hazelwood's classic "Baja" in a soft place. Competent, and using all three guitar parts the way the Astronauts arranged it. Actually, this is a very pleasant track.

Spanish Blue dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Miles Corbin's ultra suave instro "Spanish Blue" sounds too much like Miles on guitar not to be. The exotic percussion and phrasing are just right. Very nicely played.

Ultimate Wave dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Eddie Day's "Ultimate Wave" is sounding a lot like the latter day Lively Ones arrangement, and is very well phrased. Quite nice.

Mr. Moto dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With a million versions out there, it is only the CD's concept that requires it here. The keys play Jim Roberts' original lines really well, and it's in many ways among the most reverent covers. The sax is a bit subdued, but overall, this seems to be right out of 1961.

Mr. Rebel dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Eddie Bertrand's big hit is an interesting track. Tonally, it's like a cleaner version of Eddie's current sound blended with his vintage band. Nice track.

Ft. Lauderdale dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Impacts' "Fort Lauderdale" captures the grit and sax edge of the original quite well. It's a less raw recording, but the energy and meanness is there. Quite well done.

Body Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Nobles' "Body Surf" is a lot less grumbly and pumped than the original, but it's quite groovy and well arranged. Quite fun.

Latin'ia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a cross between the insanely liquid Sentinals' original and the "other" arrangements that were issued back in the day. Smooth and very fluid, the guitar lines smile and shine with beautiful tone. Very good!

Surf Rider dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A cross between the Lively Ones' signature tune and the Ventures' original, this is a true to form version with exceptional guitar work.

Let There Be Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Chevells' tuff obscuro "Let There Be Surf" is really quite close to the original. Pumpin' and cutting back with a gutty attack.

Walk Don't Run dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is more or less the Ventures' "Walk Don't Run '64" arrangement, but with a little more chop and a little less reverb glissando magic.

Misirlou dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a low-fire version of "Misirlou." It's double picked, chopped and damped, but is not intense. A curious mix of power and restraint. Ed Quarry's keyboard swirls are really nice to hear. It's Dick Dale's single arrangement.

The Rising Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Anyone who covers Richie Podolor is alright by me. A little more liquid lead guitar out front is needed. The mix is more about the rhythm pattern than the great melody.

Wipe Out dot
Surf (Instrumental)

No one should cover "Wipe Out" unless they can really drive it hard, especially in the drum department. The drums are way back in the mix as well as not up to Ron Wilson's flair.

Let's Go Trippin' dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Much lower key than the Dick Dale and his Del-tones single, more like the Milt Rogers take. It has a groove, but I think I'll pass on it.

King Of The Surf Guitar dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

If you took the Blossoms out of Dick Dale and his Del-tones original, replaced Dick's big guitar with a suaver (is that a word and do I care?) more liquid style, you'd get a really nice song. Wait, that's what they did here. This is quite nice.

Riders In The Sky dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The arrangement is a combination of Dick Dale and the Original Surfaris, the tone aggressive, the damped fills superb, and effect strong. Really nice.

Surfing At Mazatlan dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is an unusual take on the Centurions' "Surfin' At Mazatlan." It's softened considerable with a damped reverb rhythm. Can't decide if I like it or not. The sax is very raw.

A Shot In The Dark dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of the faster covers of Henry Mancini's often surfed up film score. Pleasant, but unremarkable.

Pintor dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

There are a half-dozen or so covers of the Pharos' "Pintor" out there. Most rely heavily on the rhythm, as does the original. This has a bit of a different feel to it, with some of the rhythm elements too low in the mix, leaving it less balanced. It's a happy song though.

Hawaii 5-0 dot
Surf (Instrumental)

The TV theme is a lot like the Ventures cover hit. Not particularly interesting.