Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Shockwaves - Primal Twangdotdotdotdot
artworkThis is the only album release from one of the Bay Area's oldest and longest playing surf bands. It is from the final lineup, after the departure of nearly all of the original members. There are some great surf tracks here, but this is also a pale shadow of the band that was at one time known as the San Jose Surf Monsters.

The band here is Frank Novicki - guitar, Randy Hyden - bass (only original member), and Joey Myers - drums (veteran of many rockabilly bands in the South Bay, and currently in the Tread Asphalt Trio).

The band was originally formed around Joe Kelley - guitar (Mallards, Huge, Psychedelic Surfers), Jon Kohlman (Huge) - rhythm guitar, Randy 'Rudy' Hyden - bass, and Stretch Riedle (Sub-Mersions, Psychedelic Surfers) - drums.

Frank Novicki (Slo Gin Joes, Frank's Guitar Junkpile) came into the band on the departure of Joe Kelly. When Jon Kohlman left, he was replaced by Roger Rush (Not Cool, Thrusters, Neon Spores, Psychedelic Surfers) on guitar (Thrusters, Neon Spores, Not Cool). Roger and Stretch left at about the same time. Joey Myers replaced Stretch on drums.

In their heyday, they rocked hard and played complicated arrangements of surf obscuros, including a splendid merger of the Surf Raiders' "Curl Rider" and Shoutless' "Downhill Run" into a monster titled "Downhill Curl," which was no longer in their set by the time this was recorded, and "Minor Chaos" was trimmed down to a basic surf track. 7 of the 17 tracks here are originals, with the covers ranging from the common to the obscure. This album was recorded on November 10 and 11, 1990, and released in a very small run of 300 in 1991 after months of saving money from aluminum beer can recycling.
Picks: Squad Car, Vamp Camp, Lithuanian Surf, The Munsters Theme [Surfin' Herman], Mr. Rebel, Duane Eddy Mows His Lawn, Diamond Head, Hiawatha, Boozefest, (Ghost) Riders In The Sky, Pink Crotchless Bikini, Wild Women and Wet Guitars, Heads Up, Bo Meets The Shockwaves, The Spin, Minor Chaos, Sleepwalk

Track by Track Review

Squad Car dotdotdot
Surf Garage (Instrumental)

The classic rockabilly instro, with a makeover into their own sound. Rhythmic, dramatic, and fun.

Vamp Camp dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This Ventures tune features "creepy crawly guitar" by B. L. Zeebub a.k.a. Frank Novicki. The song is a sluggish mean mistreater. Haunted pickslides, dark chords, and lots of reverb.

Lithuanian Surf dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This Frank Novicki tune includes "super Slavic shouts" from Leo Carlino and the Manly Men. It's a dark, yet playful surf instro. The melody is not exactly hummable, but it's quite serviceable. There's some fine picking here. Grumble, rumble, and splash! the midsection is like an extraction of "Walk Don't Run."

The Munsters Theme [Surfin' Herman] dotdotdotdot
Garage Fuzz (Instrumental)

A violently intense none melodic jam of fuzz drenched guitar and throbbing bass. Howling feedback, evil tones, and twisted notes. Egads, I love it!

Mr. Rebel dotdotdotdot
Garage Fuzz (Instrumental)

The rockabilly classic, shredded through a fuzz box and echoplex, and an intensely whammied chord jam. Yikes! It'll bring on dementia.

Duane Eddy Mows His Lawn dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Here's a Shockwaves classic. Frank Novicki wrote this warm summer afternoon song, and it shows off his sometimes brilliant knack for melody. This is a fluid, humorously edged tune that floats along at mid tempo, with so much green grass feel that it almost fires up your allergies. Great song. Voicings are from Rufus Leaking.

Diamond Head dotdotdotdot
Frat Surf (Instrumental)

A surfified version of one of the few Japanese songs to make the American charts. That version was real elevator mung. This is damn surfy rockin' fun. The melody is strong, and the fine whammy chords and damped picking are cool too. Spirited primal surf.

Hiawatha dotdotdot
Surf Plunder (Instrumental)

Evil tone, feedback and growl surf, big chord plunder. Slow, vile, smelly, sewer outlet surf, from the bowels of the sea. Chunky, thumpy, and intense.

Boozefest dotdotdot
Surf Plunder (Instrumental)

Slightly more traditional surf, rumbly indistinct and mean. Link Wray in the soup. Progressional over-reverbed surf.

(Ghost) Riders In The Sky dotdotdot
Surf Plunder (Instrumental)

This is a chumpy funky tune that uses the beat from Ron Holden's "Love You So," with effective rhythmic reverb chunk. Quite none melodic, and time keeper challenged. The wah-wah in the break adds some depth, but the complete lack of an actual tune is not overcome by the effect alone.

Pink Crotchless Bikini dotdot
Surf Plunder (Instrumental)

Ron Wilson's classic, opened with a weenie "Wipe Out" laugh, and then portrayed thinly and weakly, with chord morphs that just don't work, though the discordant twist does seem fitting for the performance.

Wild Women and Wet Guitars dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a moody number with a walking bass line and a bluesy feel. A little on the sultry side, and pretty jammy, yet enticing. "Wild Women and Wet Guitars" seems at odds with its title, being neither wet nor adventurous. The drums as so distant as to be almost missing.

Heads Up dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This a pretty straight slightly surfed cover of Freddy King's "Head's Up." I think it's nowhere near as interesting as the Lively Ones cover under the title "Shootin' The Pier."

Bo Meets The Shockwaves dotdotdot
Garage Surf (Instrumental)

A moronic story told over stupid bed in the intro, but then a surf progression is unleashed upon the world. A middle eastern sense, and a chunky grind. Reverb twang, and chunky fun.

The Spin dotdotdot
Garage Surf (Instrumental)

This is a cover of a Mexican sixties instro with an oriental flair. It's pretty cool, primitive, derivative, and almost as crude as the Mexicano original.

Minor Chaos dotdotdot
Garage Surf (Instrumental)

Lee Hazelwood's most rhythmically driven surf instro, covered with the sort of arrangement that gives it less power and more cool than many others. Not remarkable, but quite adequate.

Sleepwalk dotdotdot
Garage Surf (Instrumental)

"Cannon Beach" has been performed by several of the Oregon bands, the Surf Trio, the Roof Dogs, etc. It's a progressional but pleasing number with a basic surf feel.