Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Paul Johnson and the Packards - High Energy Surf Style Instrumentalsdotdotdotdot
artworkThis is mastered from a cassette recording made in rehearsal in 1996 at the Evangelical Free Church in Vista, California. This was around the same time as the first of Paul's South Bay Surf Band Reunion. Being from cassette, the cymbals are sometimes hissy and artificial, but otherwise it's a grand document of a great band in fine form. The Packards Mach II on this session are Paul Johnson - guitar, Marc Burrough - guitar, Guy Hufford - bass, and Ray Huskey - drums.
Picks: Gird Thy Sword On, Don't Be Too Proud (To Be God's Child), Pressing In, The Magnificat, Andele, Joyful Blues, Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord, Kamikaze, Armour Of Light, Baja, Squad Car, Link Wray Medley [Rumble / Jack The Ripper / Rawhide]

Track by Track Review

Gird Thy Sword On dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Paul's amazing guitar line is woven around Marc Burrough's finger style picking, giving this immense drama and power. The rhythm section in this period of the band's life was superb, as is mightily demonstrated here.

Don't Be Too Proud (To Be God's Child) dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Highly rhythmic, infectious melody, and high spirits characterize this track. Paul's enthusiasm for this track is obvious in his performance, and in his writing as well. Very interesting and friendly, and most appealing.

Pressing In dotdotdot
Surf Blues (Instrumental)

Slow, and a bit of a moody thing with a sad edge, "Pressing In" does have that liquid flow that Paul Johnson so famous for.

The Magnificat dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Bill Ireland's "The Magnificat" is a rhythmic bit of fluff with a warm melody line and nice flow. Really quite chunky, this performance is perhaps the best of several.

Andele dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Paul Johnson's classic from his days with the Belairs seems forever fresh. This warm performance is definitely post surf era, yet warmly greets the sun on a summer morning. "Andelé" is a rhythmic and melodic tune that humorously teases at the rushed existence. The sense of relentless churning is omnipresent here, with major emphasis on rhythm and guitar interplay. Playful and Spanish influenced. A great song!

Joyful Blues dotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

Like the title says, an up tempo, upbeat, celebrative track in a clearly blues vein. It doesn't fit into the surf thing at all.

Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Very chunky, infectious, and melodic. This track is magnetic, with many changes and drama, presented in an energetic and light hearted way. The addition of sax adds color to this number.

Kamikaze dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

An updated and spunky version of Paul's (Belairs) early work. It has all the youthful exuberance of the original with the honed skill of the modern day veteran player. Great track. Paul's classic from his days with the Belairs, played furiously and with Paul's modern tone. This tune is mighty direct, rhythmic, and infectious. It's power lies in part in it's adaptability, and in it's very human face.

Armour Of Light dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Very unsurf, and relatively pompous melody. It's pretty, but not endearing. This seems to be mighty arty or something, just not fun, not interestingly serious, and not memorable. I'm not sure I can delineate why I am put off by this track, but I am.

Baja dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is among the best covers of this classic Astronauts / Lee Hazelwood track. It is powerful, arranged uniquely, and totally infectious. It is powerful, delicate, pristine, and beautifully played. Besides the obvious power of the writing, Paul brings his unique and highly talented string wizardry to this tune. His plucking and string bending is so articulate and smooth that is literally floats through you. Beautiful.

Squad Car dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Eddie and the Showmen had the hit with this, but it was Paul Johnson who wrote it way back when Eddie was in the Belairs. This pumped up interpretation of Paul's 1960 creation is marvelous. It is both delicate and precise, and powerful and fast. Eddie and the Showmen may have had the hit with this in 1962, but it is Paul who created it, and it's Paul who best understands the nature of the exquisite interplay between the lead and rhythm guitars.

Link Wray Medley [Rumble / Jack The Ripper / Rawhide] dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Three of Link Wray's masterpieces strung together in a web of awesome power. The album version of "Rumble" serves as the model. It quickly rolls into a stellar performance of "Jack The Ripper" before ending in a blaze of "Rawhide." Truly inspired.