Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Rake and the Surftones - Surfers Drive Woodiesdotdotdotdot
artworkYou know, when I first reviewed this CD, I was pretty luke warm about it. But I've found that I've played it a lot on my show, and underneath it all, this is a pretty darn good CD.

Aurally, this CD hints of Richie Allen and the Pacific Surfers / the Devons.

Rake and the Surftones are a group of seasoned studio players, all of whom were in local surf bands during the sixties as mere teens. It was the music they cut their teeth on. The orientation seems to be more a reverbed Ventures than a Lively Ones approach. Most tracks are smooth and polished, and the pace is moderate. The other element here is that the nostalgia bit of recreating their teenage roots, recording the record they never did then, adds an air of family and friends.

All or most of these tracks were written for this album, and being a quick project, some of it borrows from the more familiar hits of the days of old when reverbs were bold. Some verge on derivative, others are brilliant. Almost all are infectious, and all are played with extreme talent. There are lots of elements brought together, from Mar-Kets or Challengers structures, keyboard instros a la B. Bumble and the Stingers or Ernie Freeman, surf movie incidental lounge jazz, and a few Beach Boys - Jan and Dean vocals. This rates 4 stars, and would rate 5 if it were all instro. This is an honest record, partly because it shows hope for mainstream studio players to "get it" about surf music, partly because there are some really nice numbers here, and partly because these guys are very talented.

The CD release party for this album was an amazing event. Read about it in Malibu Bar Bee.

In some ways, I think Jay Graydon was about two years ahead of the curve, foreshadowing the pristine surf work now emerging from the Seattle grunge backlash scene (the Deep End and King Of Hawaii) and some quarters of the East Coast (the Human Tornados).
Picks: Gotta Woodie Today, Undertow, Run Don't Walk, The Lonely Wave, For Sandi Grill and The Sea Cups, My Woodie, Malibu Pier, Surfin' Drums, The Rake Mystery, Bach Goes Surfin', Minute Wave, October In Oxnard, Gettin' Air, Blue Lights, Hot Fat Boogie, Surfers Toe Jam

Track by Track Review


Gotta Woodie Today dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

From the first stingers, this track moves right along, with a real trad sound, somewhere between the ventures and the Chantays. The electric piano is very tasty, and the tones are good. It has a solid melody, and basic surf beat. A solid tune. The organ is not my fave, but it is subdued in the mix, and appears for just the bridge. Very good track.

Undertow dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With the organ way down in the background, and a Memphis studio feel, this is a nice instro, though not particularly surfy. More sixties R&B jam than surf, though the surfbands of old played plenty of songs like this along with a plethora of versions of "Shout" and "Louie Louie."

Run Don't Walk dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Using the "Walk, Don't Run" intro chords as a basis, this track is at once familiar and new. The new melody line is very good, leaves you humming. I would have preferred an electric piano to the organ, but otherwise, this is really nice. maybe more lead guitar presence would be a plus, but the overall effect of the track is quite superior.

The Lonely Wave dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A fifties slowdance cadence supports this melodic and pretty track. It is very smooth, romantic, and rings with touches of the Polynesian archipelagos. Nice track.

For Sandi Grill and The Sea Cups dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A progression, a bit of the Joey Dee and the Starlighters R&B club chops, some tasty surf guitar, and you get a hybrid not unlike some of the tracks that were common at the teen band surf hops of the sixties, and also graced some of the better known surf albums between "Pipeline" and "Miserlou" covers. Very nice instro, jam based, and infectious, but not to surfy. The electric piano is really nice.

My Woodie dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Honky, choppy, R&B / Rock instro with cries of "My Woodie" injected. Structurally, it is a lot like some of the Vegas strip club instros issued 30 years ago, but more melodic and much better played. I'd say they had a lot of fun with it. I didn't care for it much, though.

Malibu Pier dotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

The lyrics are hilarious, and hint at an incident with Ben Varene some years back. A slow romantic flowing song.

Surfin' Drums dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Drum featured track, sorta like Sandy Nelson and Richie Podolor used to cut, but with a close variation on Ron Wilson's "Wipe Out" drum cadence, and maybe touches of Preston Epps "Bongo Rock" for good measure. The drumming is exceptional, but then so are all the players on this CD. Cool track.

The Rake Mystery dotdotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

With a tango-like backtrack, and the distant harmonies accompanying the intro and bridge, this track is very friendly. The guitar tones are strong, mostly emitted from the low-E. Very melodic and moody. I like this track a lot. The story narrated is hilarious, delivered by a Surf Punk voice and lingo. Great fun.

Bach Goes Surfin' dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Classical wonderment. This is based on the same melody that the Baronics do such a nice job with. If young master Bach had been a surfer and had a Fender Jaguar, he would probably have written this to be played this way. Great track.

Minute Wave dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The "Minute Waltz" as heard through the ears of the Big Kahuna as he shoots through the barrel racing just ahead of the close-out. Really fun! the dribbling guitar is priceless!

October In Oxnard dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another vocal. Now, even though I usually stay away from these things, there is something totally ludicrous about sweet harmonies being related to Oxnard. You have to pay respect to talent able to write and sing so beautifully about such a place. It either seethes with optimism, or oozes denial. Either way, it's quite a trip. Amazing.

Gettin' Air dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Really surfy number, great melody, a lot of the "Penetration" back track and bridge. Really solid, great playing, and very infectious. The evil sax is perfect. I've played this numerous times on my show.

Blue Lights dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Cool low down low-E guitar lead, whammy action, and a simple melody with ample reverb. Very nice track, I must say. The whammies are intense and moody, while the lead guitar is somewhat menacing.

Hot Fat Boogie dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Boogie is right, but with energy and a certain ominosity. More R&B than surf, a bit of the Southern Culture On the Skids and "Wipe Out." Cool.

Surfers Toe Jam dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a participation track, with a billion friends guesting on leads
interspersed through out. A basic jam, with a lot of added infusion from a wide
variety of players. Fun, but not killer.