Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Rake and the Surftones - Surfers Drive Woodiesdotdotdotdot
artworkI'm glad this has been reissued. The more I play it, the more I like it. Oh, sure, there are some California Sound vocals and some jams, but there are also some very good tracks that I keep coming back to, and the musicianship is top notch.

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. In some ways, this is the closing of an unfinished chapter from their teenage days, recording the record they never did then. It's for their family and friends, so it has a warm and friendly sound.

All or most of these tracks were written for this album. 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 - Fantastic Baggies vocals.

The fuel and sound are good, and there are some really cool bridge moments. Think super tight melodic music playing while old Toes On The Nose Gus does the "Huntington Beer Dance" with his pants down.

There are two additional instros on this release.
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, Red Tide, Bunyon Run

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.

Red Tide dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a fine track with a solid surf melody and shallow vibrato shimmer. A little sad and very aquatic. The melody is pretty and emotional, and leaves a pleasant afterglow. "Red Tide" is a nice addition to the reissue of this CD.

Bunyon Run dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a cool, with a Richie Podolor-esq melody and moody surf sound. Rich and attractive, "Bunyon Run" serves up visions of long black lines halfway to the horizon as the sun sets on a long day of curl riding.