Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Surfaris (Jim Pash) - Basic Tracksdotdotdot
artworkThis is the first new recording from Jim Pash's Surfaris in 20 years, since the 1981 Santa Anna performance, released as Surf Party on Koinkidink. The playing is excellent, as you would expect from these vintage players. The mix, on the other hand, is bland, sometimes almost ambient, and is without the power and character of their last live album. It sounds a lot like the flat studio sound of some of the later Challengers sessions. The highlight of the set is the amazing drum work of David Raven, some great period keyboard fills from Robert Watson, and Paul Johnson's fine Link Wray interpretation. It's a good set of tunes, but Basic Tracks falls short of its potential for me due mostly to the mix. All of the musicians play really well.

The Surfaris on this CD are original sax man Jim Pash, now on lead guitar and sax, ex-Belairs legend Paul Johnson, mostly on rhythm guitar, one-time lead guitarist Jim Fuller, now playing acoustic guitar, longtime Surfari Jay Traux on bass, and David Raven on drums, with additional percussion from Brian Condren Hampton, and keys from Robert Watson.
Picks: The Wedge, Penetration, Apache, Point Panic, Hawaii 5-0, Misirlou, Wipe Out, Similau, Link Wray Medley

Track by Track Review

The Wedge dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a powerful performance of Dick Dale and his Del-tones' classic single "The Wedge," well played as you would expect from these vets. It's more or less a straight traditional arrangement, except for the keys, which tale on an "Adventures In Paradise" feel.

Penetration dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a tight and reverent performance of the Pyramids' "Penetration." It's an interesting blend of tuff drums and a sort of loud-soft sound. The vibrato keys are very cool.

Apache dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is quite a nice cover of Jerry Lordan's "Apache." More than the Shadows original, less than Jorgen Ingmann's great single, and very satisfying. An excellent performance.

Point Panic dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The drums are great here. They drive "Point Panic" to the finish line. Jim Pash's sax is cool too. Both guitarists treat it right.

Hawaii 5-0 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Ventures' TV theme "Hawaii Five-0" even sports multi horn leads for that extra authentic sound. It's too orchestral for my taste, but it's just about the only cover I can think of that actually tries to emulate the hit to any significant degree.

Misirlou dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Big Fender guitar and great piano fills, along with really strong drums and solid bass, make "Misirlou" the standout track of this set. The trumpet adds to the vintage era sound. Great track!

Wipe Out dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The original single is sampled for the introduction of "Wipe Out." Its instrumentation tone is similar to the Paul Buff session - sorta. Great drums.

Similau dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Similau" has long been one of my favorite vintage Surfaris tracks. This version doesn't hold up in my book, in part because of the Spencer Davis keyboard lines, and because it's really tame compared to their original. Still, it's good listening and well played.

Link Wray Medley dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Paul Johnson's "Link Wray Medley" is his showcase here. Paul's been playing it for a long time, from his eighties band the Packards. Paul "gets it" about Link Wray. This version is softer and less edgy than his others, yet works very well. "Rumble" is more subtle. "Jack The Ripper" seems almost suave. Paul's exquisite guitar work is spectacular here. "Rawhide" rocks 'n' rolls.