Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Rob E.G. - Compilationdotdotdotdot
artworkThis is an illegitimate compilation of Rob E.G.'s recordings. I was thrilled to see this set in part because he had alluded my radar until now, and because some of these tracks are really nice, even surfy. So, with a little searching, I found some biographical stuff, which is paraphrased here. I cannot attest to its accuracy.

Rob E G (Robert George "Robie' Porter) learned to play lap steel in 1950 at the age of eight. In 1959, as instruments started charting by Johnny And The Hurricanes, Duane Eddy, and most notably for Rob, Santo And Johnny, Australian television started looking for an Australian steel player. Soon signed, his first single was Hank Williams' plaintiff "You're Cheating Heart."

Soon after, he charted in Australia with singles like "Whiplash" (August 1960) and "Railroadin'" (January 1961), both originals. In 1961, an auto accident seriously injured his spine. Instead of ending his career, Rob had a stand built so he could play standing up, and in conjunction with hosting a local talent show, he went on to 4 top ten singles, including "Si Senor" and "55 Days At Peking." He also established and hosted his own TV show called Surf Sound.

As the British Invasion started, he sent to England as Robie Porter, and worked with Brian Epstein. Unsuccessful there, and following a brief stay in the US writing songs, he eventually founded his own label in Australia (Sparmac), and produced such bands as Daddy Cool and Healing Force. Following a second label launch (Wizard) in '73, he produced Mighty Kong, Hush, and Marcia Hines. Porter returned to the US where he worked in television production before becoming a horse breeder.

There was no attempt at remastering for this collection. Tracks are loaded with stereo artifacts and clicks and pops, but the music beneath is well worth exploring.
Picks: 54321-Zero, Aloha Oe, Comanche Sunset, Cotton Pickin', Greenhorn, In The Middle Of An Island, Jamaica Farewell, Jezebel, Pagan Love Song, Peter Gunn, Polynesian Bossa Nova, Railroadin', See Senor (I Theenk), Sleep Walk, Swan River Twist, Swan River, Teardrop, Whiplash

Track by Track Review

55 Days At Peking dotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

This is a very commercial production, with a chorus and orchestral accompaniment. Overly mellow dramatic, "55 Days At Peking" does have a fun melody, and Rob E.G.'s slide guitar has unique tone and styling that could be mistaken at times for theremin.

54321-Zero dotdotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

A countdown and rocket blast off precede a very British melody, but some of the slide guitar slither reminds me of Glenn Ross Campbell (Goldtones, Misunderstood). It's much less intense than The Goldtones, but sure is rife with slide magic and creativity. This is a pretty darn cool track!

Aloha Oe dotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

This is more typically steel guitar material. Queen Lili uokalani's "Aloha Oe" has often been played on lap steel, and this island slither version is among the more interesting. The added chords slides are very liquidy. While very Hawaiianesque, it's not at all a light weight touristy curiosity.

Comanche Sunset dotdotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

With reverb in tow, Rob E.G.'s slide guitar slithers and liquefies the great Indian melody. Tribal drums and perfectly aligned bass provide superb backing for the grand slide work. This is like Santo and Johnny with more edge. Very cool!

Cotton Pickin' dotdotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

This standard is country fun and all slithery. The distortion on the slide keeps it from being compared to Nashville recordings of its day. Gutsy and still country fluffy. Very cool!

Greenhorn dotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

"Greenhorn" is a bit of a period cowboy drama, with slide adding mariachi-like accompaniment to the rich melody. It's the dark twang and slither that make this quite original.

In The Middle Of An Island dotdotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

Tony Bennett's "In The Middle Of An Island," written by Nick Acquaviva and Ted Varnick, has been done in may ways, and especially with steel, but never with the intense Fender tone Rob E.G. achieved. This loses most of the song's gimmicky feel. Quite solid.

Jamaica Farewell dotdotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

Lord Burgess' often covered classic, originally a hit from Harry Belafonte, is done with liquid slide for a unique interpretation that's durable and engaging. Only The Detonators' version is cooler!

Jezebel dotdotdotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

Boy does this work well on steel guitar! It's intense and very well arranged. Where others have given it guts or dripped it in reverb, Rob E.G. made it sing! Utterly magical! Even the cheesy chorus does not weaken it!

Pagan Love Song dotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

The Islanders' "Pagan Love Song" is done with slow slide slither, and it shines. The commercial accompaniment barely diminishes the guitar's amazing ability to connect.

Peter Gunn dotdotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

What's' a period guitar release without a version of Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn?" The rhythm guitar's signature pattern is played with near surf reverb, and the intensity of the slide is hard to knock. It reminds a bit of me of Martin Brown's work with The Impacts, except it's much more up front and liquid.

Polynesian Bossa Nova dotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

The happy sounds of Hawaiian steel are just slightly more edgy than the lush gentility of the real deal, making this more engaging. The very cool rhythm guitar also gives it originality.

Railroadin' dotdotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

The train whistle brings on the train sounds of "Railroadin'." It's the railroad rhythm that connects it to the tracks. The two steel parts contrast between liquid slither and intense drive. Amazing!

See Senor (I Theenk) dotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

This traditional song, best suited for The Tijuana Brass, seems somehow at home flowing from the steel.

Sleep Walk dotdotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

What's a steel album without "Sleep Walk?" This has all the slither of Santo and Johnny's original, but is also louder sounding. Even though it keeps very close to the original, it's also very different in character via its intense lead tone.

Soul dotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

There's enough chorus here to make this qualify as a vocal, but the intensity of the steel separates it from the slush pile.

Stage To Cimarron dotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

The Flee-Rekkers' "Stage To Cimarron" has so much more guts than the original, though its still mostly soundtrack bound.

Swan River Twist dotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

Stephen Foster's "Old Folks Home" is done with loud steel and a spunky band. This is a bit subdued via production, but is sparked by flair on the steel and a pumping bass line. Great slides and sax!

Swan River dotdotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

This different version of Stephen Foster's "Old Folks Home" is loud, intense, and raucous. The steel just sings, and despite the over familiarity of the classic melody, this version is very fresh even today. Some great slides here.

Teardrop dotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

Santo and Johnny's "Teardrop" is lush and slithery as required. While not really special, this is a very pleasant track with more intensity than the original.

Whiplash dotdotdotdot
Surf 'n' Slide Instrumental (Instrumental)

This is a bit Indian, a bit rockabilly b-side, and all slippin' slidin' guitar. This is a totally cool track with a lot to offer. A cool melody, a catchy rhythm, and strong guitar tone. Oh yeah, and there are those slithering notes!