Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Mallards - Live At Muzziesdotdotdot
artworkThe Mallards were a vital part of the surf scene in San Jose during the late the eighties. Original Shockwaves guitarist Joe Kelly left to form the Mallards. The Mallards did mostly covers, many of which were originally from their contemporaries in Southern California, like Lawndale, the Wedge, and the Cylinders.

This band was a precursor to Huge. The Mallards used nontraditional tone, effects, and power, separating themselves from their chief rivals, the Shockwaves. The band was Joe on lead guitar, Tom on rhythm, Carol on bass, and Mike on drums.

This CD-R is written from a live stereo soundboard tape I made while mixing their sound the night of April 16, 1987 at a small Campbell club called Muzzies, which was the beginning of what became the Cactus Club.
Picks: Tsunami, James Bond Medley, Baja, Cylinders, Interstellar Caravan, El Grotto, Mrs. Robinson, Mr. Moto, Night Surfing, Migration, Debbie, Diamond Head, Cape Perpetua, Penetration, Hawaii-5-0, Night Of The Living Wedge, Calhoun Surf, Pipeline, Walk Don't Run '64, Centipede, Tequila

Track by Track Review

Tsunami dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Tsunami" is a cool original with a circular and moody guitar line, backed by a delicate rhythm section, except in the bridges, where the bass and drums thump in. The circulating phase shifts on the lead guitar give it a sci-fi sound. A very cool song, though the band is less than tight on this night!

James Bond Medley dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A number of James Bond film themes circulate through this entertaining spy journey. "Goldfinger," "James Bond Theme," the B-52s' "Planet Claire," the Chantays "Pipeline," and a few lines from "Tsunami" and "Migration," plus a couple of bars of "Penetration." The main riff from the B-52's "Planet Claire" separates verses. The rhythm guitar goes outta tune midway through the medley (argh!).

Baja dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Lee Hazelwood's great "Baja" is chunky and rhythmic, as required. A fairly thick sound gives it more bulk, with the aggression centered in the chords, particularly the whammy chords. Too bad the rhythm guitar is out of tune.

Cylinders dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a rousing progression number with a catchy rolling riff and sparkling break line. The Mallards are among three Bay Area surfbands to cover San Diego's Cylinders' theme song live (HUGE and Public Safety are the other two). "Cylinders" a slightly pop variation on the basic Agent Orange recipe.

Interstellar Caravan dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a lower brow but otherwise straight cover of Lawndale's merger between Duke Ellington's "Caravan" and Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive." The lead guitar phase shifts through the melodies with big crunch. Pretty darn cool!

El Grotto dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another Lawndale tune, "The Grotto" is a great choice for the Mallards' sound, which takes it out of the LA arena, and Joe Kelly's guitar phasing add yet another dimension. Cool stuff.

Mrs. Robinson dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Inspired by the Coolies' great surf treatment of Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," the Mallards borrowed the arrangement, and then reduced it to the essential elements. Very fun.

Mr. Moto dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It's a classic, OK! With the modern sound of the Mallards in command, and a thrashier approach, "Mr. Moto" a much more rockin' song than the Belairs' original.

Night Surfing dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Mallards thicken up the Wedge's rock oriented "Night Surfing" to great effect. The melody seems well suited for their sound, and the performance is strong.

Migration dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This fine original is moody and aggressive. The rhythm is occasionally too thrashy, but overall, it's a great song with a simple and effective melody. "Migration" carries you through to the end as if you had to migrate somewhere. Very cool!

Debbie dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another track originally released by the Wedge, "Debbie" is simply infectious and cool. The original light hearted air of the song is retained as the Mallards add a thicker melange to it. Great fun!

Diamond Head dotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

The Ventures' "Diamond Head" is competently strained through the Mallards' sound without changing its intent much. A straight arrangement with a relatively unaffected sound. The light-touch dual glissando is a very nice addition.

Cape Perpetua dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Vy-Dels' "Unknown" was miscredited as "Cape Perpetua" on the Surf Trio's Almost Summer album, which is where the Mallards first heard it - hence the title. The band does an inspired and spirited version of this fine surf obscuro with modern tone and aggression.

Penetration dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a fairly traditional arrangement of the Pyramids' "Penetration," albeit modern textured, afflicted with a few bad notes, and an out of tune rhythm guitar.

Hawaii-5-0 dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Carol introduces this often covered TV theme. "Hawaii-5-0" takes on a more "normal" sound within the Mallards' aural envelope. It's a fractured performance with the band afflicted by an outta tune rhythm guitar and too many beers.

Night Of The Living Wedge dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Originally from the Wedge, this semi-aggro song is an upbeat energetic vehicle for the Mallards, well suited to their sonic niche. The performance is a little rough, but the spirit of the song is intact.

Calhoun Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Overtones' first and only instro "Calhoun Surf" seems always catchy, no matter who covers it, or what effects they use. From as disparate a bunch of bands as the Thrusters and the Neon Spores, to Los Straitjackets, it always seems to work. Nice track.

Pipeline dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

OK, so everyone does it! Many bands don't reinvent "Pipeline" in their own image, while others like contemporary South Bay / Santa Cruz surfbands the Neon Spores, Shark Bait, and the Shockwaves, the Mallards make nice with the basic vehicle with their own particular viewpoints. This is both reverent and unusual. The Mallards often used it as an encore piece. The chords are big and whammified, and the rhythmic energy is infectious. The break is damped, delicately plucked, and sports a new melody line that's very cool.

Walk Don't Run '64 dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This really doesn't stand up as well as some of the other covers the Mallards used to do. It's good alright, just less memorable. More about thrash and chord mashing, it seems pretty dissonant.

Centipede dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Halibuts' amazing "Centipede" is a cool and rhythmic choice for the Mallards. They take away the trad reverb and polish, and replace it with phasing and a semi-punkoidal attack. Very interesting.

Tequila dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Champs' party fave "Tequila" closes out the set, with another round coming from the bar.