Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Jon and the Nightriders - Fiberglass Rocketdotdotdotdotdot
artworkJohn Blair had been working on this new album for a good long while. I had received a few tracks in advance of release, and I have to say that this album is an absolute desert island must have. The writing is his best to date. John has really gotten the sound down pat too, having learned from the likes of Shel Talmy in the past, and through countless remixes until he got just what he wanted. The Nightriders are John Blair - lead & rhythm guitar, long time Nightrider Dave Wronski (Slacktone) - rhythm & lead guitar, Pete Curry (Halibuts, Hillbilly Soul Surfers, etc.) - bass, and Dusty Watson (Agent Orange, Slacktone) - drums. There are some special surprise luminary guests on the album too, like Paul Johnson, BIlly Swanson (Eliminators), and John Zambetti (Malibooz).
Picks: Depth Charge, Boogie Board, Night Patrol, Amor Del Mar, Joy Ride, Rev Up, Tailspin, Midnight Run, Moon Tide, Earthquake At Surf City, Hot Doggin', Spindrift, Horror Hayride, (The Waves Of) Lunada Bay, Hurricane, Apache

Track by Track Review


Depth Charge dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is just plain intense! It's the best recording/remix yet of a song that John has been doing for ever with his band. It has become thee Jon and the Nightriders' signature tune. John Blair's first self penned tune for the surf world, and like Danny Amis's "Calhoun Surf," it has become his signature tune, much requested by fans.

Boogie Board dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A rock-rockabilly based tune with an infectious melody and a healthy dose of surfology. Way fun and percussive. Grand.

Night Patrol dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A Paul Johnson original, with Paul (Belairs / Challengers / Packards, et. al.) playing guitar. It has that familiar Packards structure and sound, based on Paul's eighties gospel surf writings. A nice track.

Amor Del Mar dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Amor Del Mar" is a really cool and quite moody number, with great acoustic guitar and a nifty Spanish feel. The recording is exquisite, and the performance is flawless. The mid-tempo and gentle afternoon cantina feel are a perfect match. John Zambetti (Malibooz) guests on 12 string guitar.

Joy Ride dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Turn the key, ignition... Then a rolling rhythm and a choppy number with an identifiably Nightriders melody. Pumpin' surf, squealin' tires, burnin' rubber, and crashing glissandoes.

Rev Up dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Rev Up" (1963) is one of the great surf instros. Manuel and the Renegades' Piper single pounded loud and often on my turntable back in '63. I first heard it on KRLA 1110 AM Pasadena one night while I was "doing my homework," and have worshipped it's pounding tom toms ever since. Jon and the Nightriders give it a whole new arrangement, less raging and more ringing. They bring out the melody in a more fluid and less pummeling fashion. Billy Swanson (Eliminators) guests on sax. Excellent reworking.

Tailspin dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

J&NR pay homage to Los Straitjackets with this rousing cover of their spirited tune. Lots of fire and spunk, and I mean lots!

Midnight Run dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a pristine arrangement of the Super Stocks / Pyramids (Gary Usher-Richard Burns-Roger Christian) classic. The playing is rock solid. Jon and the Nightriders due a very respectful job here, with vintage sound. Exceptionally cool.

Moon Tide dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Slow and shimmering, this is well named. The exotic lounge feeling and the romantic sound is remarkably good. Really pretty. John Zambetti guests on 12 string guitar.

Earthquake At Surf City dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This great track sounds like it might have been inspired by Dick Dale's "Surfin Rebel," but a few notes in, it takes on an entirely original character. "Earthquake At Surf City" grows on you rather rapidly, due in part to the infectious bass line and rhythm, and the dramatic and shimmering guitar. Totally cool!

Hot Doggin' dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A really well reverbed and perfectly damped performance of the Astronauts' killer single. The damped reverb is so glorious that the tune takes on a Pyramids feel from the simply-dripping the liquid springs. Amazing!

Spindrift dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

John and Paul co-wrote this. It has a bit of the character of each, though more like Paul I think. Paul Johnson guests on guitar.

Horror Hayride dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very well interpreted cover of one of Webb Wilder's more familiar instro tunes. The playing is incredibly good.

(The Waves Of) Lunada Bay dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The surf rolls in, and the glissando beckons, then the tasty melody comes along and grabs you. Rompin' fast and pumpin' reverb cool, "(The Waves Of) Lunada Bay" is a magnificent surf epic. A infectious thing indeed.

Hurricane dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Big waves driven by the big winds, swirling around the rocks, rippin' the beach apart, with surf ridden only by the brave or the stupid. Very infectious and melodic, and as energetic as they come. Intriguing structure and melody from the obscure Conrad and the Hurricanes single.

Apache dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Perhaps the adventure of the album is the totally unique arrangement of Jerry Lordan's "Apache." John used a totally fresh approach to weave a whole new fabric from mere threads of the original. John says his inspiration to try something semi psychedelic was the Mermen, and his super clean prog-like thinking and playing here certainly do the trick. It is absolutely stellar! WOW!!! Billy Swanson guests on sax.