Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Mill Valley Taters - History Of The Mill Valley Tatersdotdotdot
artworkAdventures on the Bizarritudinal Plateau in the Kingdom of Strange in the Land of the Unusual... traditional surf and roots instros, and post metal sludge, melded into suites cemented with incidental inversions. All in all, a pretty amazing slab from Never Never Land. Personally, I'd like to see some of these broken into individual songs that can stand alone. Otherwise , it requires a special mod to really appreciate the magnitude of these works.
Picks: Stratfordized, Friction Proof, Garaged, Flux Meditations, History Of Rock N Roll, The Night Is Young, Stratford After Dark, Hey Mr. Rock N Roll, Foam Aroma, Dirty Wheels, Unwatchable / Three Piece Suit, Walk On By, Christmasized, History Of Rock N Roll

Track by Track Review

Stratfordized dotdotdot
Rock Surf and More (Instrumental)

This is a wide ranging track, opening with tweaky sci-fi sounds follow an alien "Battlestations Torpedo." A punctuating reverb crash and the effects fade to black. Then, Link Wray's gnarly "I'm Branded" grinds garage tuff and thick, just the way Link likes it. There's some saxophonous Beefheartian squonking over a funky beat, a short blast that seems like a synonym for "A Short Stop At The Transylvania Brain Factory" (Amon Duul II). Also in tow is Dick Dale and his Del-tones' first instro from August of 1961, "Let's Go Trippin'." It's almost traditionally played, a little slowed down, but sparkling nonetheless. The humor of a sports epic will surely spin your noggin, as will the country fried charm of "Hollow Log," and the squirelly twin note version of the Beach Boys' adolescent slurry "In My Room" is - well an adolescent slurry of serious coolness. 'Tis a long strange trip! From December, 1992.

Friction Proof dotdotdot
Rock Surf and More (Instrumental)

The motor starts up, then rumbles off as a chopper comes overhead and sirens call before the crash. Thick grumbly progression rock and machine drums moodily meander the backroads of post Armageddon byways. Then, without warning, a chumpy rhythm and a jazzy chord seem to grin through the darkness. The tropical coolness of an island melody punctuated with exotic percussion and emotional rhythms floats like a mid Pacific holiday. Then again, there's the mood and blues groove of thick chords and cruising in a '54 Merc used for a break. This is a very cool segment! Manic drums and chompin' chords thrash out amidst keyboard electrocution. After a scenic sfx display, a thick semi psychedelic groove with long guitar lines moves across a night awash in hazy mystery. Soon enough, the dawn comes with a realization that danger is stalking just outside, or are you just paranoid? From November, 1993.

Garaged dotdotdot
Rock Surf and More (Instrumental)

Distant sludge fades in, clearing the air for a lurking barrage of garage anthems and tweakery. First up is "You Can't Sit Down," played like Cool and the Gang were just outside. But wait, Link Wray brings relief with long chords and menacing looks. An extremely long pickslide transitions into heavy sludge rock just before morphing into Devo! Shimmering guitar oozes a porcelain "Hush A-Bye" for good measure. Then, pumpin' out Davie Allan chords to introduce the "Wipe Out" drum break. Suddenly, without warning, Dave Bruebeck's spectacular "Take Five" comes into in plain view with really cool guitar work and electro tweakery. "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" suddenly appears in full regalia, with thunder drums, guitar shimmer, and an ever quickening pace. The drama is superb! Mechanized military madness underpins a flowing interlude before the motor revs up, yielding to a bluesy driveway epic. From August, 1994.

Flux Meditations dotdotdot
Rock Surf and More (Instrumental)

Is it an influx or an outflux? Perhaps it's for soldering? Maybe just a bend in the time line? A slow moody song opens with wet reverby weirdness and an alluring melody. Then, there's a rock progression with long chord drama. But wait, there's a speedy break and electro strangitude before returning to the main riff and a car that won't start. "Read me my rock 'n' roll rights!" Jazzy bluesy smoky... Then, the warm electric twang of country and disco high hat action flow like water from the monitors. Big twang and circular thumpitude. Even some double picking on a few lines from some prog-pop anthem. Backwards backtrack coolness with a meandering guitar line brings forth a film score trip scene like the occasional Davie Allan voyage. From January, 1996.

History Of Rock N Roll dotdotdot
Rock Surf and More (Instrumental)

An auspicious title for a medley full of unfamiliar riffs and melody lines. More or less a drive down the back side of the radio, with occasional bright spots and dark feedback. From May, 1996.

The Night Is Young dotdotdot
Rock Surf and More (Instrumental)

"The Night Is Young" opens with a bright melody and uplifting rhythm, both looking forward to the country air and gorgeous Gingham of the picnic. You can just smell the Jasmine blossoms!

Stratford After Dark dotdotdot
Rock Surf and More (Instrumental)

Evening in Stratford must beg for something to do! Thick throbbing vibrato chords pump out a great thick nighttime of hopeful cruising. Moody and dark, and pulsing. Then, there's the tuffness of Link Wray chordage, warning of danger in the alley. Sub metal thunder follows in a stylized display of leather and hair spray. Suddenly, a prancy fifties pop melody styled countrified wonder plays across the daylight hours. Thumpy riff rock and catchy sounds meander too. The eventual move into a bouncy backtrack with a long note melody line provides a melodic respite from the heavier side of this medley. Then, there's the semi cultured ringing chords and flutey keys that invite a new day. Following all that is a riff and a thump that rises relentlessly to a jammy end. Closing out the medley is throbbing vibrato track that's more than cool!

Hey Mr. Rock N Roll dotdotdot
Rock Surf and More (Instrumental)

On the angular side, the opening movement follows a psychedelic howling intro. The song is a little disquieting, yet seems innocuous enough. next is what seems to be an exercise in mechanical reproduction, a song with a mechanical feel and circular logic. Then there's the sultry vibrato and delicate percussion of a beautiful island vacation. This is a particularly cool passage. It's followed by a shiny semi-grumbly progression and semi moody jazzified lamp post leaner. Now we get a fluid evening number with a nervous optimism and smooth guitar. Quite nice. Suddenly, dramatic vibrato and low-E grumble warn of dark surf and a storm just outside. Ominous and very surfable! Then, as several voices cycle through the ether, the track comes to an end. From November, 1993.

Foam Aroma dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

That most humorous concept band, the Mill Valley Taters (drum machine and all), slip into a white water swirl with this surfy instro, structured somewhat like a Torpedoes tune, though less power driven. Nice work, and good listening.

Dirty Wheels dotdotdot
Rock Surf and More (Instrumental)

Circular tweakage and hod rods launch an adventurous riff dominated piece that easily could be reconfigured into a surf instro. Cool in its own right, and full of open highway adventure. Then, there's the warble and riff movement. Just strange. Suddenly, the chord progression from Silver Meter's "Naughty Lady" rises about the din. Then again, there's the happy fuzz journey to grandma's. Dark gurgles move us into a simple progression with a moody side. The keyboard's warble takes over for a ride on a solar ray out near Aldebaran. Then, the melody line from "Jack the Ripper" runs through a fading rhythm ending. From November, 1998.

Unwatchable / Three Piece Suit dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of the most original acts on the surf scene, the Mill Valley Taters make big fun with "Unwatchable / Three Piece Suit" as they move from tweaky keys to grindy guitar chunk and slightly deranged rhythms. I can't believe how fun this is. The Hawkwind style electro effects at the end are a nice touch.

Walk On By dotdotdot
Electro Surf (Instrumental)

The wonderful one-of-a-kind electro weirdness that is the Mill Valley Taters is a perfect vehicle for this tune. Many cassette releases have come from the mind of this guitars and programmed sounds duo. It's really high time they were captured in such fine form. It's both lounge slushy and intriguingly disquieting, maybe a little like lying in a hammock on a warm afternoon and slowly realizing that something is very wrong around you, and moments later, the UFO's take you for a ride... very cool!

Christmasized dotdotdot
Rock Christmas (Instrumental)

A playful medley of the standards as only the Mill Valley Taters would dare do. From "Blue Christmas" and "Jingle Bells," to "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "Auld Lang Syne." Covering all the bases, from November, 1994.

History Of Rock N Roll dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a live take of "History Of Rock N Roll" from March, 2000. Yes, Virginia, the Mill Valley Taters's brand of industrial instrumental rock and roll also comes live. Fun!