Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Mermen - Only Youdotdotdotdot
artworkRecorded live at the last annual beach bash. This is the lowest recording/mix quality of any mermen CD, but it works anyway due to the huge power of this trio. Jim's magical keyboard approach to the guitar is at the focus, but the magic of the band is made possible by the absolute mastery of Allen Whitman's exquisite bass playing and writing, and Martyn Jones' very tasteful, imaginative, and complimentary percussion work. It is the combination of these three talented artists that makes this all work so well. I am convinced that one day, even if they never achieve major commercial success, they will be looked back on by music historians a one very important and talented band. They defined the new surf's boundary free nature, and enabled many others to bring other influences in where only a purists ghost had once lived.
Picks: Presidio Resounding, Brine (The Smell Beneath The Stage), Varykino Snow, Curve (compete with power outage), Slaves Of The Master Of Silence (into) Scalp Salad, We Heart Phil Dirt, Casbah, To Be Naked And French Is Always Hard, The Whales, My Black Bag, Joni Mitchell's House, Penetration, Into The West, Bare White

Track by Track Review


Presidio Resounding dotdotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

"Presidio Resounding (excerpt) - The Fog Master & Introductions (John Caldwell, Chet Helms, Jim Thomas)."

Brine (The Smell Beneath The Stage) dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Similar to the Brine version, this performance is a bit more ambient sounding and also more guitar oriented. It has the eeriness of the other version, but also more immediacy.

Varykino Snow dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one of Jim's most melodic songs, and it is wonderfully played here. Jim's stereo effects are in evidence to a great degree. This song displays Jim's surf roots and influences, as well as his more formal background. His keyboard training as a mere youth shine through this wonderful song.

Curve (compete with power outage) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Jim's huge surf grinder featuring those wonderful whammy dips hollers out with immense power in this monstrous performance. A great band issuing a larger than life soundtrack for your soul. The power failure mid-song was left on the track, and it really brings back the night for those of us that were there. After the power returned, Jim just came in with deep vibrato notes, and they jammed back together in a rhythmic exercise and spontaneous happening for a few wonderful minutes before returning full bore to "Curve."

Slaves Of The Master Of Silence (into) Scalp Salad dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a pair of songs segued together. The first is a flowing and gentle imagery number that shortly yield to the second more familiar Mermen song. A fine performance and interesting guitar effects from the master there of.

We Heart Phil Dirt dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

I'm so honored! They actually put it on the CD!

Casbah dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Never have they played a bad version of this powerhouse Richie Podolor tune! This is right up there with the "Haunted House" version, though a bit slower. Those whammy dips are so-o-o strong. The howling feedback and jam middle is very different, and the power of the track is ominous. It bowls you over, leaving you drained and in their gratitude. It ends with a cacophonous decay into the inner howling of a tormented soul.

To Be Naked And French Is Always Hard dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This very pretty song gives hope to the future of serious and melodic music that is neither pretentious nor boring. Jim's ability to hook your heart while salving your cerebrum is unsurpassed in modern music. It is a slow-to-mid tempo number with a flowing melody line and nice changes in both character and effects.

The Whales dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This most unusual of all songs, with it's rhythmic and tribal drums and jazzy soulful bass under a very slow and atmospheric lead parroting the calls of the orca, creates a totally enthralling and magical vision of the green world of sea mammals. It is simply the best thing ever written about the inhabitants of the sea, and every performance on disc has been magical. The making of feedback from the mouths of whales is beyond imagination. It brings chills to the spine. Sad, romantic, stunningly powerful and beautiful.

My Black Bag dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Right from the growling evil big chord guitar intro, this perennial favorite screams for your inner most energy. Pummeling, powerful, ominous, double picked melody line, and intense tonality.

Joni Mitchell's House dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Surely, the thought of Phony Joni Mitchell will warn you off, but don't be afraid. This is Jim demonstrating his ability to meander through anything and make it like you've been there for ever, even on first hearing. A slow quirky melody line.

Penetration dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Still shredding on trad surf, they deliver yet another stellar variation on the Pyramids' classic, covered liberally with feedback of several kinds, giving it a dissonant and evil overtone. As it turns out, it is from a malfunctioning effect that Jim messes with before just letting it spread it's horror throughout, leaving you just sure it was meant to be.

Into The West dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Howlingly rising to the harmonic magic of this cool song, the boys cruise through the normally beautiful tonality with an edge and sharpness not heard on other versions. Double picked melody lines and harmonic pluckage blend into an eerie and endearing track.

Bare White dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Bare White" is moderately paced, slightly funky, reggae feeling, and almost sounds like it is inspired by Wes Montgomery. Quite interesting and adventurous.