Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Impacts - Wipe Out!dotdotdot
artworkIn the early days of the surf scene, Del-Fi Records was the premier vinyl venue for surf bands, and California's Central Coast was a prime resource for their catalog. The Sentinals, the Revels, and others came from the greater San Luis Obispo-Pismo Beach-Moro Bay area. Among those bands was the Impacts, headed up by Merrell Fankhauser. While they produced some solid surf, for me the thing that set them apart from the herd was Martin Brown's grand lap steel guitar, and the melodic and tone possibilities that brought.
Picks: Steel Pier, Tandem, Sea Horse, Beep Beep, Lisa, Church Key, Wipe Out, Fort Lauderdale, Tears, Revellion, Blue Surf, Impact

Track by Track Review

Steel Pier dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Except for "Sea Horse," this is Merrell Fankhauser's best writing, as evidenced by the number of covers out there. It features a simple melody line with drum breaks and a dark brooding tone in an infectious setting. Very cool.

Tandem dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A cool R&B flavored surfy number, nice but not particularly memorable.

Sea Horse dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is my favorite Impacts song. It is hokey, with a Little Grass Shack melody and backtrack, but it is so sincere and so fun, that it is irresistible. A fine lighthearted ditty for the South Seas.

Beep Beep dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of those utterly silly and totally fun tracks that tends to be overlooked because it is so fluffy. The whole thing is a play on a honking horn riff. It sneaks up on you when you aren't looking, and grabs you with a major grin attack.

Lisa dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Slow and silky and bluesy and romantic... "Lisa" ages pretty well. I have grown to appreciate this track over the years.

Church Key dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Every one did it, but few matched the Revels' original. This is just so-so.

Wipe Out dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The chorded introduction is charming. The guitar progression is the basis for the Surfaris' "Wipe Out." It took me a long time to come to realize/accept this, but it surely is so. There are also differences which are in part the luck of the draw on takes chosen for the release, particularly in the lack of drum breaks. Here is Merrell's timeline and comments about the song.

"The facts are: I wrote a song in 1961 while surfing I called "Kick Out." The [Impacts] sax player laughed at me and said 'You Really Got Wiped Out!' We changed the title from "Kick Out" to "Wipe Out" before we went into the studio Sept. of 62 and recorded 18 tracks, some of which were on The Impacts Del Fi LP and others ended up on compilations. We didn't know anything about contracts or copyrights... Drummer Richard Delvy of the Challengers was watching us record in Ted Brinson's studio in L.A. that day. Producer Tony Hilder told Delvy to go out in the car and get more publishing contracts, and we signed our rights away. We later came back a month or so later and re-recorded "Wipe Out" with drum solos, our original only had one solo. We did 4 different versions, that to my knowledge never came out. Our chord progression was exactly the same as the almost 1 year later Surfaris version. The newer version The Impacts did had my guitar mixed more to the front and was very close to the Surfaris. It's interesting Delvy went on to work with The Surfaris and even played drums on a lot of tracks on their first LP. Also they had a song called "Blue Surf" as The Impacts did that was similar, and our producer Tony Hilder also worked with the Original Surfaris. Its quite a coincidence if it really was?... Our version was copyrighted by Hilder almost a full year before The Surfaris version. If we only had those 4 other takes of "Wipe Out!" Revels Sax man Norm Knowles heard them and there was no doubt in his mind something strange happened."

Fort Lauderdale dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Among the Impacts better tracks. Their recordings were OK, but not great. They canŐt be counted among the seminal bands, but their album was good.

Tears dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Sad, silky, lap steel tear jerker with a flowing sound and pleasurable arrangement. Great steel.

Revellion dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Slow (very slow), melodic, moody and enjoyable. Not terribly remarkable, but worth having in your library.

Blue Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Slow (very slow), melodic, moody and enjoyable. Not terribly remarkable, but worth having in your library. It is in many ways very similar to the Surfaris song of the same name from a year later.

Impact dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Cool tom-tom action, low down sax, and a simple progression on the guitar - sounds like an R&B number with reverb. Quite alluring.