Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Neon Spores - The Last Live Showdotdotdot
artworkThe Neon Spores were a Santa Cruz enigma founded in Santa Cruz by Roger Rush, the last rhythm guitarist for the Shockwaves and a member of the Thrusters and Not Cool. The lead guitarist was John Anderson, who had his own surf band in the 60's called the Bay Men, and had been in Eddie and the Showmen before joining the Humans and the Ninja Nomads. Offsetting all this reverb was Sam Adato, a flash metal drummer refugee from Wrekking Machine, whose pitching arm smacked his snare was so loud, it didn't require a mic. John's blazing psychedelicization of the Chantays' "Pipeline" under it's original name "Liberty's Whip" shows just how fiery the Spores could be. It was captured live in the Pit at KFJC on May 23rd, 1992.
Picks: El Aguila (The Eagle), The Hearse, K-39, Walk, Don't Run, Calhoun Surf, Mr. Moto, Hava Nagila, Geronimo, Diamond Head, Sand Storm, Wave Watch, The Victor, Apache, Mr. Rebel, Telstar, Look Up, Madame Prairie Dog, Swedish Rhapsody, The Spin, Squad Car, Penetration, Perfidia, The Wedge, Similau, Where'd Ya Get That Bruise, The Cossack, Wipe Out, Surf Rider, Slaughter On Tenth Avenue, Dusk At Waddell Creek, Windy and Warm, Hot Doggin', Miserlou, Liberty's Whip, Louie Louie, El Aguila (The Eagle)

Track by Track Review


El Aguila (The Eagle) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This classic Lee Hazelwood tune uses very different textures from the original, or any other cover. With unique filigrees on the lead melody, and Sam 'Bam' Adato's machine-gun precise whacking, this performance redefines the power and attack of the song. Highly energetic, and ringingly crisp.

The Hearse dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Lee Hazelwood's classic and highly melodic tune is reborn into a modern rhythmic cruncher with very nice lead-rhythm interplay. The original was a relentlessly steady tune, chunky, but steady. Here, the Neon Spores employ dynamics in all-together-now wham-bam style that gives major accent to the chops. Sammy's drumming is exactly placed between the chords to express clearly the power and drive behind the track, but when he pauses to strike the snare in sync with the power chords, it's magnificent. There's and a whole new interplay between the two guitars via original chunky rhythm guitar percussion. A truly great track.

K-39 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a song John Anderson's been playing since it's release in '63. Starting with his band the Baymen, John has evolved a brilliant new break that trades on the original, but stands apart. The Neon Spores have added dramatic stop-power-punch-together accents, cool power-whack drum fills, a great flowing rolling snare and synch lead guitar great underpinned by a slow and sinewy bass line. Very infectious.

Walk, Don't Run dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The racing snare intro settles into a chunky performance. The arrangement is pretty trad, but overlaid by the general textures of this band. Roger Rush's dry damped rhythm really stands out here as an important characteristic of the band.

Calhoun Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Roger Rush brought "Calhoun Surf" to the Neon Spores from his time with the Shockwaves. The chunka chunka of Roger's rhythm is most appropriate for this tune. John Anderson's leads are smooth and personal. A fine cover.

Mr. Moto dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Roger plays the lead here. John creates an original rhythm guitar part that an entirely different tension and balance than the original Paul Johnson - Eddie Bertrand creation. The dynamics are like the original, so it retains a vintage appeal, while sporting an identifiable Spores sound.

Hava Nagila dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a cross between a traditional arrangement and a surf arrangement. It's very un-Dick Dale, and the folk-dance stuff they use is splendid. It has the near-polka beat, and all the "hey's" you could want. Very cool.

Geronimo dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a John Anderson original, which he wrote while a member of Ed Hatch (a.k.a. The Humans). He has morphed it over the years to become less an Indian thing and more a surf tune. This arrangement displays it's similarity to "Secret Agent Man."

Diamond Head dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Danny Hamilton's classic surf tune finds a new and different life here. It's more chunky, less surfy, more dynamic. Otherwise, it sounds relatively normal.

Sand Storm dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Johnny and the Hurricanes originated this rhythmic tune, and the Neon Spores capitalize on its rhythmic nature, with John Anderson using a more ringing lead guitar tone to simulate the original use of bells in sync with the lead. Great energy and soul.

Wave Watch dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Starting life as a Neon Spores vocal called "The Movie's On," "Wave Watch" is a melodic rhythmic number with Bo Diddley entrails and surf visions. It stands up well to the instrumental treatment.

The Victor dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

More rhythm dominated than the Dickster's original, yet almost as thick. Cool for sure.

Apache dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Jerry Lordan's "Apache" is well suited for adaptation to the Neon Spores' rhythm section. Good take.

Mr. Rebel dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This take provides a completely different variation, due mostly to Sam Adato's drums. John Anderson played rhythm on this track with Eddie and the Showmen in the sixties, so it could be said he understands the song. The mid song speed up courtesy of Sam's dyno drums is pretty cool.

Telstar dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Thick surf interpretation of this UK classic, based strongly on the version John Anderson Played for 15 years with Santa Cruz's Humans. Ringing tones and pumped drums.

Look Up dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another song that started ut as a vocal with the first lineup of the Neon Spores, "Look Up" is poppy, rhythmic, and melodic. It's heart is in the eighties, yet it transcends the decade limitation.

Madame Prairie Dog dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is one super deluxe original from the pen of John Anderson. He's been playing around with it for about 20 years. It's rambling and playful, delicate and melodic, and very infectious. A glorious merger of surf and prairie, of wet and dry. Exquisite.

Swedish Rhapsody dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Proving you can surf up anything with a solid melody, this unusual choice for a cover was chosen by rhythm guitarist Roger Rush. John Anderson's great delicate picking combined with a real Swedish sense gives this an irresistible draw. Wonderful.

The Spin dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"The Spin" came to the Neon Spores via Roger's membership in the Shockwaves. High energy basic rock riffology in reverb. A fave at live shows.

Squad Car dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Sam 'Bam' Adato's drums are much more metronomic than any of the early Paul Johnson or Eddie Bertrand versions. More rhythmic and crunchy, this is infectious and way fun.

Penetration dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

There's nothing traditional about the arrangement. The rhythm guitar, bass and drums are providing an original backdrop while the lead guitar is dribbling out a double picked melody line. Excellent.

Perfidia dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Perfidia" is played with great reverence, updated only to blend with the Neon Spores's sound.

The Wedge dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dick Dale's tune, pounded out with al l the fire available while sitting down. More delicate than powerful, it moves right along and works really well.

Similau dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Surfaris' first adapted this exotica classic from the sugar cane fields to the surf idiom. When Roger brought it to the Neon Spores from the Shockwaves, he guided the initial run throughs at half speed to give everyone the change to get it down pat. I happened to be at an early rehearsal when they were still slowly moving through it. It was amazing. I convinced them to think of it live that way. As a compromise, they worked it up once all the way through slow, and once fast. Sequed, the two renditions are very effective. Long for a surf sing at around seven minutes, it sneaks right in and hooks you. Amazing!

Where'd Ya Get That Bruise dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Evan John's tune from one of his H-Bombs albums. Evan didn't remember the tune when Roger Rush was doing their stage sound at the Catalyst and told him about the Neon Spores' covering it. This is a fuzz lead, ska rhythmed melodic tune.

The Cossack dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Jim Messina's coolest tune, rhythmically grooved in pure wet surf style. Powerful and exotic.

Wipe Out dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a pedestrian cover of the all-too familiar drummer's nightmare. Sam's drums are tight and intense, yet it is less than satisfying, as are just about all covers of this tune.

Surf Rider dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A solid if unremarkable cover of the best known of all Lively Ones tracks. Very listenable, just not ahead of the pack.

Slaughter On Tenth Avenue dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A solid performance of the Ventures' surf treatment of "Slaughter On 10th Avenue."

Dusk At Waddell Creek dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This fine John Anderson original had been kicking around for a few years before he brought it to the Neon Spores. He'd worked it up for the post-Humans band Ed Hatch. It was then known as "Dusk on the Ziggurat." Waddell Creek is an outlet to the Pacific from the magnificent redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains. This is a rhythm dominated number with an infectious sound and feel, and a mess of double picked power.

Windy and Warm dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

John D. Loudermilk's wonderful and playful tune, full of lilting guitar lines and humor. It's strictly for the good times.

Hot Doggin' dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Astronauts' "Hot Doggin'" slams into gear in a rhythm dominated arrangement. Fine listening.

Miserlou dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a solid performance, with John Anderson playing his heart out.

Liberty's Whip dotdotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

John's blazing psychedelicization of the Chantays' "Pipeline" under it's original name "Liberty's Whip" shows just how fiery the Spores could be. It was captured live in the Pit.

Louie Louie dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Richard Berry's ultra classic love song, brought full circle to a near Ventures' arrangement. Tasty.

El Aguila (The Eagle) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This classic Lee Hazelwood tune uses very different textures from the original, or any other cover. With unique filigrees on the lead melody, and Sam 'Bam' Adato's machine-gun precise whacking, this performance redefines the power and attack of the song. Highly energetic, and ringingly crisp.