Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Mermen - Cubberly Community Center 11-20-99dotdotdotdot
artworkThis recent live performance displays the Mermen in full form, with surf and art and psychedelia merging as only they can do. The lineup here is Jim Thomas - guitar, Randy Clarke - bass, and Vince Little - drums. Steve Brown captured it on tape.
Picks: Latin'ia, Walking The Peach, Emmylou Rides Clarence West And Then South, Splashing With The Mermaids, Le Jizz Hot, Lonely Playboy, White Trash Raga / Curve, Ocean Beach, Merry-Go-Round, Unto The Resplendent, Burn, The Goodbye, Here Kitty Kitty, Sponge Cookie, Bare White, Sway, Jack The Ripper, E: Astro Boy, Adventures In Paradise, Burn, Bare White

Track by Track Review


Latin'ia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With a slow dramatic and fluid introduction, the Mermen opened this show by setting the beauty of Tommy Nuñes' song on it's ear. Much more ethereal, and with floating on psychedelia's electronic wind. The intro is four minutes long, with almost violin harmonics and howling ghostly feedback. Monstrous and haunting. The gorgeousness of the performance is stunning. It absolutely shimmers with a delicate whisper.

Walking The Peach dotdotdot
Progressive Jazz (Instrumental)

Darkness falls upon the room as a jazzy intellect offers up an edgie piece with excellent guitar effects and a fluid sadness. Solidly moody and almost optimistic.

Emmylou Rides Clarence West And Then South dotdotdotdotdot
Cowboy Surf (Instrumental)

Semi countrified and fluid, this chaps and cactus epic rides through the sage with a bouncing joy and huge coolness, especially the vibratoed bridge. A long ride on a horse named Clarence in the open air.

Splashing With The Mermaids dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is an advanced arrangement of this early Mermen tune, much more wistful and gentle. Fluid drifting and breezy, and oh so satisfying.

Le Jizz Hot dotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

Dissonant jazzy, funky, and sporting a percussive guitar from Jim Thomas in some spots. It's a little more intellectual than fluid, but still very interesting.

Lonely Playboy dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Gorgeous and sensitive, this fine piece is surfy and moody, with excellent shimmer and vibrato. The quiet thunder of the midsection is a great offset to the delicacy of the main theme. Very tasty.

White Trash Raga / Curve dotdotdotdotdot
Exotic International Surf (Instrumental)

The drums issue a funky tribal beat as the bass uses feedback to create an Indian feel as the guitar eventually brings forth a dramatic and hair-raising exotic melody. This is a very infectious piece, with a rhythm you can't ignore, and a solid and delicate focus. It segues gently into "The Curve," which played with all the fire and drive required to make it howl. The ugliness of this primal surf pummeler is a fascinating contrast to the exotic rhythms of "White Trash Raga." Simply marvelous!

Ocean Beach dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With a spiffy new opening masking this modern surf classic, the Mermen have morphed it into an electronic crossing with major drama. It has taken on a completely new feel. The guitar effects are stunning. The funky rhythm section is also quite a change. Very infectious. Eventually, they arrive in familiar territory, and what a journey it is.

Merry-Go-Round dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Merry-Go-Round" is a very pretty piece that floats across a sunset like an albatross on the wing. Slow and mystical, with deliberate yet liquid phrasing. Quite nice.

Unto The Resplendent dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Unto The Resplendent" is a mighty playful piece, with a funky kinda outback feel, and a surf ethic in the melody. Anytime you think the Mermen have left the surf behind, you need only listen to compositions like this aquatic beauty. There's no denying the oceanic vision. Stunning.

Burn dotdotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Swirl (Instrumental)

Feedback slowly oozes from the depths in an eerie melodic threat, while the drums and bass rumble in dangerous disregard for your safety. As the song arises to recognition, the evil looms and in a tonal mass. Slow swirling lights and a liquid menace merge dirge and industrial torture with psychedelic swirl. It reminds me of a darker Phil Manzanera composition.

The Goodbye dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This decade old "The Goodbye" classic continues to sound so very good... The arrangement is somewhat updated, with a funkier bass line, but the primary inspiration and sadness are still omnipresent. Excellent, maybe even sweeter than the earlier versions.

Here Kitty Kitty dotdotdotdot
Dramatic Punkoidal (Instrumental)

Hard driving power thrash, double picked density and punkoidal drums, with liquid bass. This is a wall of sound that relentlessly drives home the point. Dramatic and dangerous.

Sponge Cookie dotdotdotdot
Cookie Crumb (Instrumental)

No Betty Crocker here as the baking sheet reveals crisp percussion and chewy melody lines. There's a sense of the open road, but also a sense of traffic. Gigantic and fluid.

Bare White dotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

"Bare White" is a spiffy percussive creation, with jazzy overtones and a playful nature. Intellectual and emotional, and well developed.

Sway dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Slow running streams and hammocks gently swaying in the breeze over tribal percussion and intricate bass. It's very picturesque, and quite beautiful.

Jack The Ripper dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Link Wray would be pleased at the guttural tone and huge sustained feedback. I can't say I've heard this played with a bigger sound. It gradually powers up and speeds up while the feedback gets more and more howlie until the melody finally arrives in a gorgeous pristine assault. Grumble meets liquid in this amazing rendition.

E: Astro Boy dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A variation on the "Penetration" riff lies just beneath this melodic surf charmer. It's stylish and energetic, powerful and ringing. Very fine and most fitting a surf set, with glissandoes and that surf rhythm.

Adventures In Paradise dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This theme from the unsuccessful TV show drips out with a whole lot more islandic charm than the original soundtrack theme or the Challengers' cover. The scenery is self evident as this softly whispered interpretation dances on the theme with delight. Excellent.

Burn dotdotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Swirl (Instrumental)

Feedback slowly oozes from the depths in an eerie melodic threat, while the drums and bass rumble in dangerous disregard for your safety. As the song arises to recognition, the evil looms and in a tonal mass. Slow swirling lights and a liquid menace merge dirge and industrial torture with psychedelic swirl. It reminds me of a darker Phil Manzanera composition.

Bare White dotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

"Bare White" is a spiffy percussive creation, with jazzy overtones and a playful nature. Intellectual and emotional, and well developed.