Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Hapa - Surf Madnessdotdotdot
artworkI didn't know what to make of the cover. It screamed out self anointed rock stars or surfers gone Hollywood or something. I knew it wouldn't be trad surf, and I feared it was another surfer-playing-music-so-it's-surf-music release. I was relived to find out that there were some pretty good tracks on this CD, and while few really cried out surf loudly, most were more than listenable, and some even snuck in and grabbed me. Don't expect vintage sounds, and don't be put off by the corporate guitar licks - they work well with the overall concept. This is definitely unusual, and in some places, downright cool. Not for the purist or weak-kneed, but a good ride for instro fans with an open mind. The crew here are Kali'i Kaneali'i as Axel - rhythm guitar / vocals and Barry Flannagan as Barneldo - lead guitar / vocals, with support from Don Ho (really) - vocals, Lawrence Lieberman - drums, Rick Schneider - bass, Kimo Bell - bass, Douglas White - bass, Gaylord Halomalia - organ, Gregory Anthony - surf wax, and David Choy - sax.
Picks: Axel and Barneldo Theme, Walk, Don't Run, Have Another Cookie Larry, Gregory Anthony's Tubular Symphony, 24 Hours In Manhattan, Wipe Out, Nadine Won;t Call Me Anymore (Clint Black's In Town), Always With Me, Always With You, Hawai'i Five-0 (Hawaii Five-O)

Track by Track Review

Axel and Barneldo Theme dotdotdot
Finger Snapping Vibrato (Instrumental)

Slowly wandering in and out of focus, a few highly vibratoed notes from "Hawaii Five-O" with snapping jazz fingers. It's short and would probably make a cool bachelor pad arrangement of this familiar theme. Ain't no surf to it, but plenty of cool fun.

Walk, Don't Run dotdotdot
Post Surf (Instrumental)

Boy oh boy, I hate the delay on the drums. It's very annoying and detracts from an otherwise good version of this anthemic Pacific Northwest theme. The guitar work is fiery, metallic, crunchy, and edge of the glissando guitar is unusual. I'll play it for everything but the drums mix. The playing is fine, but... that delay - argh!

Have Another Cookie Larry dotdotdot
Progression (Instrumental)

Again with the annoying drum delay, but the track is a very chunky progression oriented tune, employing major label feedback and compression on the guitar. It seems like it needs more melody and less guitar hero lick mastery.

Gregory Anthony's Tubular Symphony dotdotdotdot
Experimental Surf (Instrumental)

Rolling drums, double picked guitar, reverb, funny production stop-starts, and dumb vocal injections of non-words. The guitar plays some stinging accents, and associated whammy chords. I wanted to hate this, but after a few listens, I found it grew on me. Very unusual, and definitely experimental. The fake sitar sounds, the dramatic changes, the delicate interludes, and all that double picked tradness add up to one unusual track. This segues right into the next track, and while it's a jazz based number, the transition is flawless.

24 Hours In Manhattan dotdotdot
Surf Jazz Honkadelic (Instrumental)

Jazz flourishes, honky squirty sax lines, cool percussion, bell-note guitar tweaks, and a multilayered sound, like fusion gone awry, or maybe GT Stringer on a shortboard. This is non-melodic, but highly inventive and intense.

Wipe Out dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The delay on the drums is more subtle, but it still masks the reasonably good portrayal of the magical Ron Wilson touch. The guitar is strait, except the chords are played out more slowly, creating a ring instead of a chunk. It's a pretty good version of this classic.

Nadine Won;t Call Me Anymore (Clint Black's In Town) dotdotdot
Modern (Instrumental)

Odd percussion, sorta tribal exotica, and corporate guitar sounds ought to equal disaster, but instead, this seems to work well. The melody is good, and the performance is excellent. It's a good instro.

Always With Me, Always With You dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Light weight guitar lines delicately plucked out creating a gentle and breezy track, with a pretty melody and smooth delivery. This is quite a pleasant number, faster than most of this sort, yet relaxing. Lot's of Spanish bits, and island elements too. A fine track.

Hawai'i Five-0 (Hawaii Five-O) dotdotdotdot
Surf Slither (Instrumental)

The same slow and sinewy jazzy HVØ that opened the CD, but here we get the whole banana. Not as slow or beautiful as the mermen, but very cool. You can just see Steve McGarret wishing he were really Tom Lopaka. Very nice track.