Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Surfaris - Surfer Joedotdotdot
artworkThe Surfaris were about as important as they get. They also had more than their share of trouble over the years, beginning right from the start with their name, which was already in use by another band that had issued recordings. Due only to the size of their hit and the common identity that it brought, they were able to retain the name, while the other band became the Original Surfaris. They recorded six songs at Pal Studios with Paul Buff, two of which resulted in the "Surfer Joe" c/w "Wipe Out" single. Sax player Jim Pash was unable to attend the session due to a conflict with yard work or something, so he missed out on everything. They issued it on their own little DFS Records, named for their manager Dale Francis Smallen, who provided the laugh at the beginning of "Wipe Out." It got noticed by Richard Delvy (the Challengers), who offered them a re-release on his Princess label. He was able to get significant enough airplay from it to interest DOT Records in a distribution deal. He licensed it out to DOT, then best known for Pat Boone's records, but part of the deal was an album. He took them into the studio, gave them a list of songs to record, and waited. The resulting tapes were not used, and their whereabouts are unknown, though I'd guess Delvy has them. When the album came out, only the two hit tracks were actually recorded by the Surfaris. The rest of the tracks were "Other Groups," which translates into the Challengers. Law suits resulted, first removing the Surfaris picture from the album, then finally adding "And Other Instrumental Hits From Other Artists" to the cover art. The other result was the Surfaris moving to Decca Records. The sad thing is that these tracks are not even up to Challenger standards. Maybe they were demos, or maybe a rehearsal. Either way, these are the Surfaris Substitutions
Picks: Wipe Out, Wiggle Wobble, Torquay, You Can't Sit Down, Green Onions, Tequila, Wild Weekend, Teen Beat, Yep, Memphis, Surfer Joe, Walk, Don't Run

Track by Track Review


Wipe Out dotdotdotdot
TV Surf (Instrumental)

"Wipe Out" is simply the definitive drummer's badge of courage. If he can do a decent "Wipe Out," he's hired. Simple, and written and recorded in just minutes, this is an international classic that has sold multimillions of copies, and still does every year worldwide.

Wiggle Wobble dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a pretty strait cover of the Les Cooper hit, but is minus the infectious energy of that original upbeat sax lead instro dance soul groove. The Challengers are tight and precise here. It's a nice track, just nothing different or special.

Torquay dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Talk about strange. This has none of the flair or wetness of the Fireballs' original, and is arranged more like "Tequila" sans horns. It's a nice rhythmic rendering, quite different in character than the original, and not as infectious.

You Can't Sit Down dotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Another pedestrian number. The hits of the day played for the sock hop crowd, neither original nor interesting. I didn't much care for the Dartells' original, and this is not up to that level.

Green Onions dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

Relatively soul free cover of the Booker T. & the M. G.'s hit, with a more Hammond-like organ, and sax in lieu of the guitar. A backdrop for your frat party, but not the center of your attention.

Tequila dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Super chunky mean surf. The boys scream and shout relentlessly. The melody is shallow, but the ominous nature of the tune is very magnetic. This is a powerful and vicious surf track. It is also the Jesters' most familiar track.

Wild Weekend dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tom tom tribal, damped reverb chunk, and a jam lead guitar. This is like a B section of an AABA song, extended to be the whole thing. Powerful, but lacking in focus. The drum solo is very strong.

Teen Beat dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is just about as powerful and fast as surf gets, spitting notes out like machine gun bullets. The melody is a fine infectious bit of writing. This high powered track is just about the best Jim Messina writing ever. Nearly every cover IÕve heard has paled to this and the Thimble version.

Yep dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Funky soul groove surf, with motor sounds overdubbed. This could easily be an R&B track from Bill Black or Ernie Freeman, but it is from the mind of Messina. OK, but not remarkable.

Memphis dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The other great killer monster from the Jesters. This punishes the peace and quiet of an afternoon daydream with violently powerful double picking, and spectacular writing. The backtrack is not very Russian, but the melody is both eastern European and middle eastern sounding. Great track.

Surfer Joe dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With the flair of a Mexicano and the style of a hot roddin' surfnik, Jim Messina chunks out an intensely rhythmic and driving song. Strong and edgy, with plenty of surf reverb.

Walk, Don't Run dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is faster and more spirited than the Ventures, but it is their basic arrangement. It's funny, but this is one of the few tracks that Delvy kicks butt with on the drums. Like the Ventures doing rockabilly. Cool track.