Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Jack Nitzsche - The Lonely Surferdotdotdot
artworkJack Nitzsche was Phil Spector's main musical arranger. He was a fixture on the West Coast studio scene. His signature "surf" hit was co-penned with Marty Cooper. The usual session men are at work here, with Hal Blaine - drums, Tommy Tedesco and Ray Pohlman - guitars, Leon Russell - piano, and David Gates (Bread) - bass. Recorded in August of 1963, it was Spector-ish from the get-go, and it was produced under his watchful eye, with lush strings and complex arrangements.
Picks: The Lonely Surfer, Puerto Vallarta, Stranger On The Shore, Theme From Women Of The World, Old Town, Ebb Tide, Theme From Mondo Cane, The Magnificent Seven, Baja, Theme For A Broken Heart, Beyond The Surf, Da Doo Ron Ron

Track by Track Review


The Lonely Surfer dotdotdot
MOR Surf (Instrumental)

"The Lonely Surfer" is an enigma, hardly legit surf band fare, yet definitely a genre classic. It only charted at 39 on Billboard, but it is among the more recognizable and sophisticated surf standards. It's haunting moody and dramatic. The French horns are surreal, giving it a major pompous feel that somehow transcends the dismissibility of other similar works, like the "Surfers Stomp" Marketts sessions. Amazing.

Puerto Vallarta dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Opening with the progression from Jackie DeShannon's "Needles and Pins," this floats into soft rock theme for the open road VW crowd.

Stranger On The Shore dot
MOR (Instrumental)

Mr. Acker Bilk's "Stranger On The Shore" is a strange choice, yet in this MOR setting, it's not really that far of a stretch. Straight elevator fluff.

Theme From Women Of The World dotdot
Film Score (Instrumental)

Sad like a theme for a Holocaust documentary, this track is overly dramatic and moody. Film score music.

Old Town dotdot
Made For TV (Instrumental)

This Marty Cooper / Jack Nitzsche tune hints at an MOR stroll through a stylized Mexican village in a made-for-TV movie.

Ebb Tide dotdotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

The classic MOR standard is very strangely arranged, like a cross between Jet Harris' six string bass lead and bull fiddle sadness. It's pure MOR, yet is strangely attractive. Slap me, quick.

Theme From Mondo Cane dot
Film Score (Instrumental)

Ultra pompous film music, produced in a stiff and super-serious fashion. I'll take the Kai Winding hit anytime.

The Magnificent Seven dotdot
Film Score (Instrumental)

Elmer Bernstein's "The Magnificent Seven" made a hit by Al Caiola if presented much like the film score. Big and orchestral.

Baja dotdotdot
MOR Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very slow version of "Baja." It sounds like a cross between the Surf Mariachis (Lively Ones) and Al Casey underneath the wall of sound orchestral wash of Phil Spector. MOR and surf coexist in this strange track.

Theme For A Broken Heart dot
MOR Theme (Instrumental)

Silky green tomato music for the Lifetime Network. Can't handle it.

Beyond The Surf dotdotdot
MOR Surf (Instrumental)

In a similar vein to the Lonely Surfer, but less electric, "Beyond The Surf" is a slow and dramatic oceanic orchestral piece. The violins rise and fall with the waves as if inspired by Robert Russell Bennett's "Song Of The High Seas," but without the emotional content and power.

Da Doo Ron Ron dotdot
MOR Surf (Instrumental)

The Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron" is sappily dragged across the floor for over three minutes. Way too serious, with a military beat and kissy-sweet strings.