Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Good Guys - Sidewalk Surfingdotdotdotdot
artworkThis album was recorded by the usual Challengers studio line up including Paul Johnson - lead guitar, Hal Blaine - drums, Art Fisher - rhythm guitar, John Anderson - guitar, Buzz Carre - bass, Phil Pruden -sax, Steve Douglas - sax, and Jim Roberts - piano. It was originally issued on GNP Crescendo as the Good Guys, not the Challengers. The seventies and early eighties saw rereleases on GNP Crescendo as by the Challengers, and the nineties in Japan on CD, both with the artwork crediting the Challengers on the front, and the Good Guys on the back. It is a fairly tame set, not as inspired as the other Challengers records, with different guitar tones (mostly non-surf), and including many of the songs also appear on other Challengers records, though not the same recordings. A nice piece of history, though not essential, especially at the price of Japanese CD's.
Picks: Scratch, Happy Guitars, Lanky Bones, Small Fry

Track by Track Review

Roller Derby dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Roller Derby" is a slowish number that wanders through a not-very memorable melody. The lead guitar is modulated, and the track seems to have no direction. The Good Guys slowly pour out this Paul Johnson tune. later reissued issued as by The Challengers, as well as alternately titled "Igor's Theme."

Scratch dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is more like the caliber of Paul Johnson's playing. The double picking is excellent, though the guitar is thin and sounds to have been recorded at a low volume. It's an energetic performance of a great surf classic. very precise playing and clarity.

Happy Guitars dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Spirited fast surf instro with dry guitars, but plenty of double picking. It is melodic and solidly performed. A good track.

Lanky Bones dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Hal Blaine's drums are spectacular, and the performance is spirited. It also is Paul Johnson's guitar, which sounds pretty thin here. I like this track a lot, just wish the lead guitar was fuller bodied.

Small Fry dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another flying Hal Blaine drum number with a pleasant PJ melody and a spirited performance, with sax added (by Phil Pruden?). Nice track.

Collision Course dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This grinding ominous track features more of Hal Blaine's rolling thunder drumming, and Paul's effected guitar on a "K-39" like tune with a lot of fire. The performance is spirited and the rolling rhythms drag you right along. Wonderful vintage Paul Johnson.

Kami-Kaze dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Despite Hal Blaine's drums, which add to the track, and the clarity of the damped dry rhythm chops, the guitar is just not as inspired as the Belairs original. It's a good track, and I like it - it's just not as hot as the original take. Jim Roberts' (?) piano is a nice touch.

Duck Waddle dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Paul Johnson always says the name of this track with a grin. I think he delights in the silly. Certainly, he and Eddie Bertrand had a penchant for silly or dramatic covers. This is a melodic and funny melody that lives up to it's name. Interesting, but not great. Good sax work.

The Wedge dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A solid performance on the lead is turned in by Paul Johnson, and Hal Blaine's drums make a big difference to the arrangement. It is the most reverbed track here, and the most traditional surf. It has a lot of the feel of "K-39," but faster. Solid, pumping, hot!

Surf-Ari dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Surf-Ari" is a moderately interesting instro with not much in the way of hooks. The playing is top drawer, but the track just doesn't really bring you back for more.

Sidewalk Surfer (R. J. Mike) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of the great lost tracks. It's not terribly surfy (except as covered by the Eliminators), but it is a fine piece of writing, and a really fine track. The melody is strong, and the rhythm is quite infectious.

K-39 dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With a lighter guitar sound from Paul Johnson, this version of "K-39" is textured differently, and has a different sax break, but still has the speed and rolling thunder of Hal Blaine's drums. Almost as good as the "hit" version.