Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Ralph Rebel - Surfin' and Rockin'dotdotdot
artworkThis is an interesting release. Many covers, and yet most stand up well to multiple listenings. Rockabilly artist Ralph Rebel approaches these traditional tunes by lightening up on the harshness and edge and driving them with richness and subtlety. Very well played and sometimes very originally arranged, these tracks offer another view of the rock instro / surf idiom. Of particular note is Stan Jones' classic "Ghost Riders," which is just about as original an interpretation as I've heard.
Picks: Half Pipe, Perfidia, Rumble, Rebel Rouser, Pipeline, Wipe Out, Justice, Sleep Walk, James Bond, Sabre Jet, Rawhide, Ghost Riders

Track by Track Review


Half Pipe dotdotdot
Rockabilly (Instrumental)

"Half Pipe" is a rockabilly instro that's almost identical to a Duane Eddy tune I can't quite place. Infectious and fun, and very well played, this has a measure of splash amidst it's cactus roots.

Perfidia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Alberto Dominguez' fine tune introduced to the rock audience by the Ventures is softly delivered with liquid flow and shore break sounds. This is really nice, with great tom toms and beautiful aquatic tone.

Rumble dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Link Wray and his Raymen's "Rumble" is toned down a little, with less meanness and more flow. Rich and nicely whammied, and with some cool drum work, this is mostly a straight cover with a slightly softened edge. The vibrato verse is extreme and throbbing. Nice track.

Rebel Rouser dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This Duane Eddy / Lee Hazelwood tune has been covered often. While this is very respectful of the original, it's richer and very infectious, while less intensely youthful. Nice take.

Pipeline dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Many a cover of this classic tune exist. This is more than just another among the throng. A restrained heaviness sets it apart, as does a couple of verses of "Miserlou" and some semi-Hal Blaine drum work. A rough opening glissando and the common Jerry Cole melody error do not mar an otherwise tasteful version of the classic. Pretty nice!

Wipe Out dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

OK, so it's fun, but without Ron Wilson, this tune is usually just OK. Some inspired drumming and some rockabilly guitar licks keep this from disappearing into the crowd. Surprisingly fresh sounding.

Justice dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Bill Dogget's "Honky Tonk" by any other name is still "Honky Tonk." tasty enough, and kinda slinky too.

Sleep Walk dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Reverbed vibrato guitars dribble and twang very sweetly through this venerable Santo and Johnny classic. Often butchered when not played on lap steel, Ralph Rebel makes this over into a very pretty piece. Some dribbling double picking, some surfy whammy, and lots of liquid suaveness. Nice take.

James Bond dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

John Barry's "James Bond" is fluidly drenched in reverb and nicely arranged with cool whammy.

Sabre Jet dotdotdot
Rockabilly (Instrumental)

"Church Key" twang sets up this instro heavily influenced by the Central Coast sound of bands like the Revels and Duane Eddy's "Moovin' n' Groovin'." Lots of unpretentious fun.

Rawhide dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a tasteful and gentrified performance of Link Wray's "Rawhide." Twang, vibrato, and low-key intensity.

Ghost Riders dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a great surfin' cowboy interpretation of Stan Jones' incredible "(Ghost) Riders In The Sky." This is such a strong melody, it lends itself to many styles. This surf-rockabilly restyling is spectacular. Sift, yet powerful and rhythmic, this is a great track.