Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Muffinmates - Return Of The Muffinmatesdotdotdot
artworkNineteen tracks from The Muffinmates, mostly covering standard surf instros. The problem with this release is very amateur production, seldom rising above demo quality. The lead guitar is suppressed in the mix, the drums are overbearing all too often, and the organ is mixed in an uncomplimentary fashion as well. making matters worse, the production values are inconsistent, with the exception of the very demo drum treatment. This is all very unfortunate because there are a handful of tracks with very cool arrangements that would have made an excellent album of a dozen top flight surf instros. With this many tracks, it ends up being an endurance test to listen through, when it could have been a great disc!
Picks: Pipeline, Mr. Moto, Out Of Limits, Movin', Batman, Triple R, Secret Agent Man, Agent Miracsky, A Shot In The Dark, An Atfternoon At Home, Penetration Humppa, Sledge Hammer, Surf Rider, Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance, Cruel Sea, K-39, Walk Don't Run, Besame Mucho, Love Of My Life

Track by Track Review

Pipeline dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Rippin' traditional pipe-lineage spews forth with ample reverb. The performance is very solid, but the mix is demo at best with the two guitars hard panned left and right, detracting from melody focus. Why the organ is in the middle I don't know. Coulda been a four star romp.

Mr. Moto dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very straightforward cover of Paul Johnson's "Mr. Moto." The demo drums sound is annoying.

Out Of Limits dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Mike Gordon's "Out Of Limits" lends itself to the way The Muffinmates use the organ. The lead guitar is somewhat suppressed. Still, as a cover of this venerable Mar-Kets hit, it's quite adequate.

Movin' dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Lee Hazelwood's very cool "Movin'" is rearranged in a most inventive manner. The lovely chords, rising keys, and cycling guitar lines precede a reverby take. It's the intro that makes this unique. Otherwise, it's more or less standard.

Batman dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Neil Hefty's theme "Bat Man" is all surfed out with a definite circling feeling. Simple and direct.

Triple R dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A rich muted reverb rhythm counters organ leads as The Muffinmates deliver "Red River Rock" (the three R's). The organ is nothing like Johnny & The Hurricanes, nor is the guitar like Dave Yorko's. Surf meets fifties cheese, and it works!

Secret Agent Man dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a pleasant cover of Phil Sloane's theme "Secret Agent Man." Distracting drums (mix wise) and minimized lead guitar. Otherwise, it's a pleasant track.

Agent Miracsky dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The throbbing tremolo fuzz second guitar adds a bit of edge to an otherwise tame track. The melody in interesting, and surely could have been presented in a more sympathetic mix. Only the low bit rate reverb on the drums is stereo.

A Shot In The Dark dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Henry Mancini's goofy film score has been done a lot. This is a fairly tame rendering, with tasteful muted surf patterns that are pretty cool.

An Atfternoon At Home dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Soft mall organ and distant easy guitar lines deliver a spyish song. It's a good song choice, and the arrangement is pretty nice, but the mix restricts its effectiveness.

Penetration Humppa dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A sorta polka beat behind this surf classic adds a new dimension. The arrangement is imaginative and effective, bringing fun to an otherwise over-covered song. Very cool idea.

Sledge Hammer dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Sledge Hammer" is a bit gimmicky, but still in the surf groove. Its unusual beat and rhythm work well in the surf genre despite being very not-surf. Is this Danny Elfman's song?

Surf Rider dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With a very restrained lead guitar, "Surf Rider" loses it's silky power. The performance is good, just not very effectively mixed.

Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance dotdot
Combo (Instrumental)

Frank Zappa's "You Can Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" has been brought into the surf genre a few times already. This isn't one of them. Keyboard lead and a combo arrangement, with only the drums being surf.

Cruel Sea dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very cool arrangement of Mike Maxfield's "Cruel Sea," with a ska beat behind the classic melody. It really sets it aside from the flock.

K-39 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Richard Burns' "K-39" is fairly easy going, but I think this is mostly due to the mix and the organ break. Excellent guitar work.

Walk Don't Run dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a reverbed version of Johnny Smith's "Walk Don't Run" based on the 1960 Ventures arrangement. It's well done, but unremarkable.

Besame Mucho dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Besame Mucho" is a classy song for The Muffinmates to do. The drums are exotic, but overbearing. The guitar's reverb is well suited for this Consuelo Velasquez standard. Sultry and smooth.

Love Of My Life dotdotdotdot
Zappa Surf (Instrumental)

Pretty surfy chords with organ swirls and dry lead over a surf beat, the Muffinmates makes "Love Of My Life" over into a glissando exercise. This is an interesting way of converting it to the curl.