Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Halibuts - Halibut Beach / Gnarlydotdotdotdotdot
artworkAfter merely a decade of prodding, Iloki Records has finally reissued the first two studio albums from the legendary Halibuts. Issued in 1984 and 1986 respectively, Halibut Beach / Gnarly were the first releases from one of the original surf revival bands. They played continuously for close to 20 years before Pete Curry joined Los Straitjackets. These two albums are among the necessary in your collection.
Picks: Mr. Mysterioso, Halibut Stomp, Jetstream, Little Old Ladies Never Cut Back, Deathwave, Exodus Five-0, Malibu Run, Monster Surfing Time, Church Key, Surf Rider, Shorepound, Skinny Dip, 40 Miles Of Bad Surf, Centipede, The Man From H. A. L. I. B. U. T., Mambo Halibut, Batman, Got A Match, The Rumble, Gnarly

Track by Track Review


Mr. Mysterioso dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Super chunky ska based surf, with sax lead on a highly infectious track. The melody is strong, and itŐs hard to stand still while they rave up on this number. The middle break, with the pure surf tone, comes to a stop before slamming back into the sax ska. On the second pass through the break, the surf guitar drops onto the low-E and sports numerous powerful glissandoes. Great track!

Halibut Stomp dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Sax and guitar twin leads, with a backtrack based on Moon Dawg, and many spirited intersections with other familiar themes. Great fun.

Jetstream dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Thumping drums, great rolling bass, and round guitar create a near tropical air with this majorly fun tune. The rolling thunder of the toms is powerful, and the Caribbean sax lines are infectious.

Little Old Ladies Never Cut Back dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

In a variation on the Jan & Dean tune, the Buts create a fascinating sound with the damped rhythm guitar. Totally cool fun. faster than the original by a lot, this is highly infectious and way too fun. The sax accompaniment adds a meanness, while the oriental theme break gives it a surreal air. Great track.

Deathwave dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Funeral home surf, opening with a dirge sequence, then dropping immediately to an uplifting thrill ride melody and fast paced track. The sax break is back alley mean, while the rest of the track is playful and spirited. Fine track.

Exodus Five-0 dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This merger of the melody from theme from Exodus and the backtrack from theme from Hawaii Five-0 is brilliant. The subtle ska arrangement is pretty funny, and the fast pace totally changes the character of the tune. High times at the edge of silliness. Great

Malibu Run dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A sax lead and a major ska arrangement totally change the character of this Fender Four song. The thunder of the rhythm section is very strong, and the infectious percussion is brilliant. Very fine, complete reincarnation of a great lost classic from 1965.

Monster Surfing Time dotdotdot
Halloween Surf (Instrumental)

Is this from the VeeJay album of that title? Sure sounds like it. Halloween silliness, monster sounds, and effected lead guitar, all playing together in a simple structure with a playful melody. This sounds like a Joe South melody to me. Too fun.

Church Key dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Faster than life version of the RevelsŐ classic Church Key, pushed beyond its limits, shredding its way into your soul. The racing pace makes this a nerve-wracking track. ItŐs full of surfisms, and splendid energy. It was recorded live at the Music Machine July 3, 1983.

Surf Rider dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Also recorded live at the Music Machine July 3, 1983, this is a pretty trad version of Surf Rider, except itŐs a bit faster, and features the keyboards in the third verse. Chunky and fun.

Shorepound dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Totally killer dribbling surf rhythm guitar, and a ska based sax lead, except for the break, where a marvelous surf guitar carries the focus. Infectious, driving, and utterly rhythmic. Prefect for that drive down PCH.

Skinny Dip dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

High spirited surf instro, so spunky that Agent Orange issued a cover on a single a few years back. The melody is pure vintage surf, while the speed is faster and the sound is lighter. Great infectious stomp master track. Recorded on 8/28/86

40 Miles Of Bad Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

An entirely nonstandard arrangement of the Duane Eddy standard, faster and with sax domination. Recorded on 8/28/86

Centipede dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is just about their most surfy, best track. It is powerful, full of tones in very corner, melodic, infectious, and just plain wonderful. The melody is lonesome mean, the rolling drums are spectacular, and the growling keyboard under it all holds it together. Even JoeyŐs out of tune sax is perfect for the track. Totally necessary eighties surf. Recorded 8/19/86

The Man From H. A. L. I. B. U. T. dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Hokey, movie spoof twin lead playfulness. The two guitars share the duty, trading lines in a playful way. The pace is moderate and deliberate. The almost start stop action between verses is pretty fun. The fast ska break is utterly unexpected and joyous. When it slows back down to a final verse, all is well with the world. So many changes, so little time. Recorded 9/15/86

Mambo Halibut dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tweaky fun from the tropical regions, where ska and salsa and swaying dancers rule. Really a nice track, featuring a soulful and low down sax lead. Way before it was cool to employ exotica sensibilities, these guys were daring their audiences to new heights. Recorded 4/12/86

Batman dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the Neil Hefty TV theme, arranged in a pretty standard surf band way. Not very interesting, but having seen them a bunch of times, I can tell you their audience loves this. The powerful glissandoes to a stop between verses works really well. Recorded 6/12/86.

Got A Match dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Playful, tropical beat, hokey polka sensibilities, and a child like melody combine to create a very fun and infectious track, completely outside the pale of your usual surf tune. Recorded 9/15/86.

The Rumble dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

ItŐs Link WrayŐs monster, surfed out, feedback included, and gnarly. Recorded on 9/15/86.

Gnarly dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Gnarly is right. This is among the best mean surf tracks ever. ItŐs amazing how much power can be had from a damped surf guitar, and then how much emphasis can come from a whack at the whammy bar. Really strong throbbing tribal bass and drums, and an almost overpowering drive. Incredible track. Recorded on 8/28/86.