Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Rhythm Crusaders - The Surf Familydotdotdot
artworkOften erroneously credited to the Surf Family, the artist is by The Hollywood Surfers, a fictitious name conjured for the project. The band was actually The Rhythm Crusaders. the following details are paraphrased from information provided by guitarist Jerry Madderra.

"Jerry Madderra was in a band based in Huntington Beach around 1962 called The Rhythm Crusaders. They had worked with a promoter and producer named John Gardell, Gardell knew LA DJ Huggy Boy who that owned Dub Tone Records. they had rights to a couple of presurf Dick Dale tracks and wanted to put out an album to capitalize on Dicks name. Gardell suggested The Rhythm Crusaders fill out the album. The session was at Gold Star. Not all of the regular band members could make the session, so we Jessie Cassaras was brought in on drums. Jessie was a good drummer they had worked with before. They added 2 sax players, Tony Elisalda and Rudy Naverette.

The players at the session were:
Larry Carney - lead guitar
Jerry Madderra - bass and 2nd guitar
Kenny St. John - 2nd guitar and bass
Tony Elisalda - tenor sax
Rudy Naverette - tenor sax
Jessie Cassaras - drums

All of the songs except for "All Night Long" and "Last Night" were written in the studio while they rolled tape and most songs were cut from one or two takes at most. The Stratocaster Larry played on the album Jerry, and it is the oldest Strat known in the world - the second prototype Leo Fender made in late '53. The guitar was given to Jerry's father for field testing back in early '54.

The Rhythm Crusaders recorded this album in the evening and only had 2 hours in the studio.

The Surf Family was produced as a bargain bin filler. At the time there was a hit comedy album by The Hollywood Surfers called The First Family, so Dick Hug coined The Surf Family.

The Rhythm Crusaders were not a surf band, and really looked down our nose at most of them. They only did this as kind of a goof, poking fun at the surf music, although Dick and John didn't know this. Jerry isn't sure how much they were paid for the session, but thinks each musician got $20. Jerry had to buy his own copy of the album because there wasn't any money in the budget for comps/ It sat in his closet for 45 years before learning that there was any interest in this old music. He was surprised by that. The album was only in limited release, so there can only be a few copies still out there.

Most of the music here is raw and immediate. Given the quick turn creation, the tunes are not as jammy as the stuff that came from the usual Hollywood suspects, and certainly sports some real energy and creativity. Somewhere the masters languish in a vault. The LP also includes Dick Dale's two often-leased presurf vocal pop sides, "We'll Never Hear The End" and "The Fairest Of Them All."
Picks: King Of The Stomp, Highway 101, Garbage Pit, White Tornado, Hully-Stomp, Hang Five, Doheny Drums

Track by Track Review


King Of The Stomp dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the most surf worthy of the tracks on the album, and has been comp'd a few times. It's a raw double picked dry surf sound, with early Dick Dale Rendezvous Ballroom ambiance, and solid drive. Quite infectious, this is a must have bit of studio surf history.

All Night Long dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

On the gruff side, this a tuff version of the one note rhythm charged instro standard. Aside from the honest energy, it doesn't hold attention for long because of its unchanging repetition, even in the sax verse.

Highway 101 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Primitive drums and raw guitar plucking out a solid and simple riff, mostly on the low registers. Some very smooth double picking fills accent this raw number. The sax is bold and the effect tuff.

Last Night dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a pretty straight cover of the Mark-Keys' "Last Night" with adequate edge. It's more raw than stylized, and sports adequate sleaze.

The Surfer dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The ultra simple riff employs but three notes, and the sax plays a mild support role. The jam break is inspired and fun, though relatively unmusical, yet I find it surprisingly fun and enjoyable.

Garbage Pit dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very cool track! Crude, rude, damped guitar weirdness, noodly and and all the things you might expect not to like, yet its odd structure and marvelous guitar abuse and strange glissandos makes this a priceless and unique gem of the era.

White Tornado dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Reverbed surf guitar and a noodly riff that seems to work well enough. Raw sax and tuff drums support the jam lead structure.

Hully-Stomp dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Hully-Stomp" is reminiscent of Paul Johnson's The Shimmy or "Duck Waddle," just a little more jammy. Totally fun.

Hang Five dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Ominous and gutty, "Hang Five" is simple and nasty, and despite its jam qualities, endearing and playful. The Eddie Bertrand riffing in the bridge is very cool, as is the "Surf Beat" underlying basis for the song. Raw sax and a thumping bass line fill out the track.

Doheny Drums dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Lots of drum action as you might expect, accompanied by plenty 'o shoutin' before the guitar and bass come in to grind out an almost Link Wray minimalist riff. Urgent and mean, like being Maytagged against the rocks.