Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Bruce Johnston - Surfin' 'Round The Worlddotdotdot
artworkThis is the original 1963 LP release. There's lotsa mung here, but a couple of bright spots as well. Bruce Johnston is a future Beach Boy when this is cut. He's already issued his first album, a "live" frat LP called Surfers Pajama Party. He's fresh out of the UCLA commercial music factory. There are some pretty sad tracks here, some vitally experimental tracks, and one killer surf rage. Among the more interesting vocals here are "Down Under," a high school pomp and marching band silliness track that is somehow a fascinating experiment in pop music influence variation, "The Hamptons" with it's "wo-wo-wo" poppiness, surf lyrics, and bozo femme harmonies, "Maliblu" (Malibu) with that fuzz bass again, in much less fiery a track than "Jersey Channel Islands - Part 7," which employing a progression, but little else, and the super cool "Surfin' Here To Stay" that has a curious quality about it that prevents mere dismissal. Not that it's great or anything, but it's pretty unusual. Inspired by the Frank Guida / LeGrande Records sound of Gary US Bonds' hit "New Orleans," but lacking the creativity of the Norfolk Sound. The instros are reviewed in detail.
Picks: Maksha At Midnight, Jersey Channel Islands - Part 7

Track by Track Review


Maksha At Midnight dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

I hate stuff like this. It's hokey, out of character, and I wanna pan it, but it has some endearing qualities, and at the end of the day, it's a nice track. A fifties slow dance mentality lives here. The lead guitar is either a lame lap steel, or a bottlenecked guitar. Either way, this is a nice melody, and a nice arrangement for an elevator ride to the 99th floor, but serves no other purpose. I don't mean to be too harsh, it's just that songs that pretend to be surf instros should have at least some elements of the genre, don'tcha think? Bruce can and does that here, so what's the big deal. Actually, with different tonality, or at least a tank reverb, this might have been a cool surf song.

Capetown dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Boogie jazz wannabe weirdness, spirited and useful for commercials maybe. Otherwise, there's only the odd surf guitar in the middle part to hold the interest. Mostly sax dominated.

Biarritz dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Owes it's very life to "What'd I Say." Little to pass for a melody, just a back beat that's a cool R&B theme, and cruddy sax overlays, plus studio jam guitar that mostly bores you. Very fifties or Vegas sounding. Only the double picked guitar at the end even hints of surf.

Jersey Channel Islands - Part 7 dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is completely out of place here. It's a monster, with stinging guitar, shredding double picking, and the first known use of fuzz bass on record. Super high energy. The sax break has all the markings of a Steve Douglas blast.

Virginia Beach dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Vibrato fuzz guitar, fifties backtrack, and a progression in lieu of a melody. Probably not worth a spin.

Surf-A-Nova dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Not much of a melody, and even less bossa nova, except for the middle section. Mostly forgettable studio emptiness.

Maliblu (Malibu) dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

That fuzz bass again, in much less fiery track, employing a progression, but little else. More R&B oriented.