Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Buddy Merrill - The Guitar Sounds Of...dotdot
artworkBuddy Merrill was Lawrence Welk's guitar player. He recorded many albums of guitar music for non-rock audiences, often using Les Paul's overdub / sound-on-sound techniques.

Though he may be trendy in lounge circles, and has little rock credibility, I've included this album here because there are a couple of calibrative versions of several songs that are standard fare among surfbands. Calibrative because they make it clear just how far the surfbands went to reinvent music in their own style. There are also a couple of tracks worth considering as obscure cover material.

This album ranges from mildly competent virtual rock to tepid octogenarian snoozers. Sit back and get ready for different takes on "Hava Nagila," "Caravan," "Malaguena," and "Misirlou."

Accent Records was a subsidiary of GNP Crescendo.
Picks: The Worm, Hava Nagila, El Cid, Fascinating Rhythm, Love Makes The World Go Round, Caravan, Poinciana, Milano, Echoette, Busy Bee, Invitation, Malaguena, La Paloma, Misirlou

Track by Track Review

The Worm dotdotdot
Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

Ah yes, the period was full of cutesy dance steps with juvenile names, and instros titled for odd little creatures. Which ever this is, it's credible as potential surf material. The riff is original and catchy. The arrangement is very studio clean (as in non-aggressive and non-edgy for the antiquarians). "The Worm" deserves better.

Hava Nagila dot
Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

Cutesy and oh-so Lawrence Welkian, this arrangement has neither the traditional joy and innocence of its folk origins, nor the fire and power of its surf incarnations. The guitar verges on harpsichord or maybe mandolin in tone. Only the bubble machine is lacking.

El Cid dotdot
Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

The harpsichord-like guitar accompaniment keeps this from advancing past bubble machine cute. The lead guitar work is quite nice, but very restrained.

Fascinating Rhythm
Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

This lounge classic remains in the lounge groove, languishing below the radar of credibility.

Love Makes The World Go Round dot
Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

Calliope rhythm and a circus melody line make this suited for an asylum scene in some psycho horror film, though parts are just too frothy even for that.

Caravan dotdotdot
Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

Duke Ellington's splendid "Caravan" is soft and squishy, with high register chop rhythms and pristine fluff guitar tone. It's a lot like watching the Lawrence Welk show. Way too much bounce for this exotic middle eastern epic.

Poinciana dotdotdot
Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

"Poinciana" doesn't exactly rise to the desirable state, but the very idea of delicate plucks through an outboard reverb as a percussion device is quite curious. The guitar work is competent, and the melody surfable. It's the cheesy rhythm track that keeps this down.

Milano dot
Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

Touristy and "Lolita Ya Ya" cheesy, "Milano" is definitely in the MOR box.

Echoette dot
Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

Tape delay is employed throughout as a rhythm device. The lead melody is played with old fart calm and restraint. never mind.

Busy Bee dotdotdot
Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

Damped plucking, circular "Flight Of The Bumble Bee" (Rimsky-Korsakov)double picked notes everywhere. It's the B. Bumble and the Stingers arrangement transcribed for guitar. Quite fun, but more or less edge free.

Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

This is soft and sub-jazz bachelor pad fluff, designed to lure the bubble-headed ladies into the lair of the wolf. Too MOR for me.

Malaguena dotdotdot
Soft Rock (Instrumental)

Ernesto Lecuona's grand song is played on guitar like it was written for piano (it was, wasn't it?). Lots of circular guitar line and faux drama. If only Buddy Merrill had discovered the volume knob and reverb, this might have been great. Pretty fun.

La Paloma dot
Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

This is a mighty soft playing of this classic song. Pretty, but cheesy too.

Misirlou dotdotdot
Soft Rock MOR (Instrumental)

Miles and miles from Dick Dale's firehouse arrangement, and sporting circular second guitar meanderings, yet somehow enticing. Not exactly traditional, yet infused with Mediterranean delight and a rock-lite edge. Even the high register chop chord backtrack has merit in this arrangement.