Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Incredible Mr. Smith - The Incredible Mr. Smith: Adventures In The Land Of Twangdotdotdotdotdot
artworkThis CD displays an amazing amalgam of surf and country and island holiday steel. While it's not wholly inside the surf envelope, it sure is a wonderful release. Some of these tracks will raise the hair on the back of your neck, and others will force you to get up and move.

This is a splendid collaboration, with a long list of cool tracks and really good playing. The Incredible Mr. Smith is Martin Schmidt & Dusty Watson. Schmidt's previous solo releases, as well as those with his band The Razorblades are well worth seeking out, and Watson, well, Dusty is doubtless the best modern surf drummer around. He has played with Jon & the Nightriders, Slacktone, Agent Orange, and a plethora of others.
Picks: Gimme My Second Of Fame!, Guitar Party With Mr. Smith, Get Out Of The Van!, Lollypop Queen, I Feel So Oriental Baby!, The Gentle Wave, Gotham City Stomp, Ghost Town, Cowboy Of The Ocean, Groovy Chick, Slow Motion Day, She Looks So Cute With A Ponytail, Riot In Sesame Street, In The Desert Island Lounge, The Princess Of Cool, Granola Girl, She Wears Shades In The Dark, Swamp Train, Stevie's Trip To California, The Last Day Of Summer, Lonely

Track by Track Review


Gimme My Second Of Fame! dotdotdotdot
Island Surf (Instrumental)

Lush slide guitar calls to the islands, with an eerie subtle bit of sustained guitar that borders on feedback, giving "Gimme My Second Of Fame!" a slightly demented feeling just beneath the surface. Spooky islands seen through the fog.

Guitar Party With Mr. Smith dotdotdotdot
Surfabilly (Instrumental)

"Guitar Party With Mr. Smith" delivers an entertaining melange of country twang and a surf beat. Dusty's drums really rock here. Hot rompin' energy throughout makes this very infectious. One thing I noticed about this track is how great rockin' drums turn country into great rock'n'roll, actualizing a theorem I've long humored since first hearing Mason Proffit's Happy Tiger albums. Very cool!

Get Out Of The Van! dotdotdotdotdot
Country Surf (Instrumental)

Gigantic drums energy and big twang rock really hard. "Get Out Of The Van!" is a superb rocker with spitfire glissandos and intense energy. All I ca say is wow!

Lollypop Queen dotdotdotdot
Island Surf (Instrumental)

A bit of island slide, a twangy melody line, and great drums give "Lollypop Queen" a light airy nature, while maintaining solid rock creds. Pleasing and fun.

I Feel So Oriental Baby! dotdotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Intense rock energy, grand slides, an infectious rhythm and beat, and thundering power. "I Feel So Oriental Baby!" is all about serious rock energy. Pumping bass and impossible-to-ignore catchiness abound. Tribal and just too fun, and it wears you out!

The Gentle Wave dotdotdotdotdot
Afternoon Surf (Instrumental)

The waves lap at the shore while the afternoon sun warms the sand. "The Gentle Wave" has round tone and a rich aquatic feeling. Its warmth is reinforced by its rock energy. The contrast between Dusty's drums and Martin's fluid guitar are very enticing.

Gotham City Stomp dotdotdot
Frat Surf (Instrumental)

Manic drums and a rough shod frat rock melody boogie and twango like it was 1957, but with Dusty's machine gun drums, there's no doubt it's 50 year on! Fun and rompin'.

Ghost Town dotdotdot
Steel Surf (Instrumental)

The wolves howl in the rain until the gentle melody floats on the lap steel. "Ghost Town" is a gentle and breezy number with an easy to see image of sunset on a golden cove.

Cowboy Of The Ocean dotdotdotdotdot
Cactus Surf (Instrumental)

This is a warm afternoon song for driving along the shore in search of a perfect wave whereupon spurs wouldn't be out of place. "Cowboy Of The Ocean" features a lush and fluid melody, a mix of tones and energy levels, and a really solid beat. As it rises to its energy crescendo, it becomes quite powerful before settling back into the cactus curl.

Groovy Chick dotdotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Harsh tone and rock'n'roll drive sets "Groovy Chick" apart from the twangers here. "Groovy Chick" is a large number with serious rock credibility and string bending. In places, the whammy reminds me just slightly of Uli Roth, not that he ever sounded like this, but via the artful intensity. Big and powerful and excellent. Oh, yeah, and great drums!

Slow Motion Day dotdotdot
Island Surf (Instrumental)

Drifting on an afternoon that merely requires your presence, "Slow Motion Day" floats easily through the air. It's a lovely tune with gentle tribal nature and slightly Slacktone-like chords.

She Looks So Cute With A Ponytail dotdotdotdot
Cactus Island Surf (Instrumental)

Reminiscent of the days when lap steel could be found on rock single b-sides, "She Looks So Cute With A Ponytail" slide solidly along. Carrying you to a sunset lagoon, yet driven by superb drums, this song really satisfies.

Riot In Sesame Street dotdotdotdot
Cowboy Surf (Instrumental)

The mere thought of a "Riot In Sesame Street" is enough to lure you in. "Riot In Sesame Street" romps and rocks and jumps with Bakersfield coolness, reverb, and incredible drums. Entirely fun.

In The Desert Island Lounge dotdotdotdot
Surf Lounge (Instrumental)

The liquid lap steel and moody backtrack create a seriously sensual image. Slithery and watery, with incredibly precise drums, "In The Desert Island Lounge" is just what its title suggests. Very cool.

The Princess Of Cool dotdotdotdotdot
Surf Jazz (Instrumental)

A sinewy bass line undulates like a beatnik-cool jazz pulse, and a distant guitar cries loudly in the distance for patience. Then, as it gets very up front and dirty, the lead creates drama and danger. "The Princess Of Cool" very much tells a story, with several passages evolving out of each other. Superb!

Granola Girl dotdotdotdot
Cowboy Surf (Instrumental)

Despite its title, "Granola Girl" is a country-fine romp, not a hippy frolic. You know this right from the first cry of "yee-haw!" This is one infectious and fun track, and illustrates just how much great rock drums add to country. As a hoe-down, it's not likely a line-dancing crew could keep up. Very cool!

She Wears Shades In The Dark dotdotdotdotdot
Country Surf (Instrumental)

Slow and moody and sensual, "She Wears Shades In The Dark" moves like a lanky woman on the make. Lush and trembling with emotion. Superb drums, excellent guitar, and very strong images of soaring lust. This is a very powerful track.

Swamp Train dotdotdotdotdot
Desert Blue Surf (Instrumental)

"Swamp Train" resides where the desert meets the blues. Tuff, yet sinewy, with long slides and whammy warble. Intense, yet a bit delicate. The tuff drums add to the almost Chris Darrow-like slide action. Wonderfully fluid and engaging, this is a must enjoy!

Stevie's Trip To California dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is perhaps the closest thing here to pure surf. A ska rhythm, exuberant playing, pumped drums, and just a bucket-load of infectiousness. Pure fun that you cannot ignore.

The Last Day Of Summer dotdotdotdot
LA Island Surf (Instrumental)

This is one happy track, with a sense of seventies LA freeway on a summer day. "The Last Day Of Summer" is a light hearted trip with the top down.

Lonely dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Distortion and tremolo throb deliver a blues number with charm in cool colors. "Lonely" moves slowly and moodily along an after-hour waterfront. A nice way to close out the disc.