Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Surfaris - Wipe Out / Playdotdotdotdot
artworkThis twofer couples the first Surfaris album, with the Challengers' substitution tracks (for the first time on CD), and the first MCA album, in the original British track sequence, with the UK only tracks in tact, except that Blue Surf is credited as track 23, but "Baja" is actually repeated on the CD. This was an essential surf band. Excellent liner notes round out the release, making it an essential for first wave surf fans.
Picks: Wiggle Wobble, Torquay, You Can't Sit Down, Green Onions, Tequila, Wild Weekend, Teen Beat, Yep, Memphis, Walk, Don't Run, Wipe Out, Surfer Joe, Point Panic, Baja, Similau, Movin', Surfing Drums, Miserlou, Waikiki Run, Jack The Ripper, Surfaris Stomp, Surf Scene

Track by Track Review


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.

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.

Wipe Out dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Decca / Bud Dant rerecording of "Wipe Out," rerecorded due to the legal wrangling between Dot Records / Richard Delvy and the Surfaris. It has none of the character of the original, being softer and more controlled. Still, it's a fascinating glimpse into the world of surf recording.

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.

Point Panic dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A-side of the follow up single to "Wipe Out." Great intro scream and tom toms. The fire in the bones of the band is clear here. High spirited, chunky, and rhythmic. Grand power glissandoes, and those wonderful Ron Wilson drums. Jim Pash's sax is most appropriate. Not often covered, but a really good tune.

Baja dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A formerly UK only track, this is a fairly pedestrian rendition of the classic, but I'm a sucker for hard to find stuff.

Similau dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The coolest ever cover of the Martin Denny-esq Jamaican sugar cane field ghost story and exotica standard "Similau." This is their crowning glory! When it comes down to one Surfaris track, for me, this is it. Rhythmic, chunky, gutsy, and melodic. Brilliantly arranged.

Movin' dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A solid version of Lee Hazelwood's "Movin'." The track is mislabeled as "Bat Man," as it was on the original album issue.

Surfing Drums dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A cover of Dick Dale's cover of Bo Diddley's "Hush Your Mouth" , with a lighter more choppy arrangement than Dale's. It sports a more mystic feel than Dick's, but retains the tribal drums. Fine track.

Miserlou dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Like "Surfing Drums," this is a more choppy cover of the standard surf monster. Solid, less dynamic guitar sound, but ample punch in the performance. A fine rendition.

Waikiki Run dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The boy's first hit with "Wipe Out" and "Surfer Joe." Their follow up single was "Point Panic" c/w "Waikiki Run," the B-side of which is this track. It's a great tom tom surf rave. The manic island drums are splendid, and the brilliant blend of musical elements shows off the prowess of this mighty band.

Jack The Ripper dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

An unusual and highly listenable version of Link Wray's classic. It's not ominous, but it moves well and is quite enjoyable. It sports an almost funky soulful groove, a haunting sway that captivates.

Surfaris Stomp dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Ah yes, the obligatory namesake song. A simple progression melody. It's just OK.

Surf Scene dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another odd track, the band had a knack of writing and arranging tunes unlike any other surf band. It's false pauses are so cool, and when they underlay the super simple bluesy melody, it all comes together in a grand track. Wonderful.