Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Surf Coasters - Easter!!dotdotdotdot
artworkI just can't get enough of this fine Japanese surf band. The "Prince of Surf Guitar" Shigeo Naka is a masterful writer and player, and the sound he has cultivated within the surf genre is about as powerful as it gets, like Agent Orange and Davie Allan and Dick Dale all rolled into one. This is CD release number 16 since 1996 (the first for Frontline Records), and the latest in an impressive chain of powerhouse CD's. Their songs are finding their way into other band's sets, and their ultimate power and drive are legendary among their peers. Aside from their tough originals, the handful of covers this time out includes complete reworkings of the Chantays' "Tragic Wind," "The James Bond Theme," and an amazingly magnetic version of Gershon Kinglsey's "Popcorn." The Surf Coasters on this release are Shigeo Naka - guitar, Nobuhiro Kurita - bass, Kiyomi Nishi - organ, and Naotaka Seki - drums. Highly recommended!
Picks: How Are You Doing?, Midnight Trooper, No Virgin!, Conspiracy, Tragic Wind, The James Bond Theme, Trouble Maker, Thunder Lily, Nightmare, Inside Outside, Drivin' Me Crazy, Popcorn, Solitude, Happy Easter!, How Are You Doing (reprise)

Track by Track Review

How Are You Doing? dotdotdotdot
Surf Raga (Instrumental)

A silky east Indian sounding guitar solo intro to the CD of just 38 seconds duration. It's quite beautiful, with a quiet intensity. Shigeo Naka should make this into a full track with bass and drums. very cool.

Midnight Trooper dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With a Munsters kinda bass line and eerie psycho keys, this shredder moves from intense scare to pummeling double picked monster in the blink of an eye. A very strong thrasher with racing drums.

No Virgin! dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The chorus chants "no virgins" between verses of a jammin' big hall kinda tune. Aggressively intense, moderately paced, and more about power surges than melody.

Conspiracy dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A 16 second post blast rumble and eerie keys interludes before the Chantays' "Tragic Wind."

Tragic Wind dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Monster fuzz bass, manic drums, and big guitar whammy drive hard under an absolutely raging attack on the Chantays' "Tragic Wind." This has more power and grunt than any Chantays cover anywhere. Monster waves crash in double time on harsh rocks. An amazing track!

The James Bond Theme dotdotdotdotdot
Spy Surf (Instrumental)

Soft silky harmonics and fluid surf ring out as this venerable spy theme crosses your late night film consciousness. Very cool, and about as good as Monty Norman' composition gets, on a par with Davie Allan power wise. The ska break is a nice touch, and the tasteful punchy drums add a lot of power. The big seventies fuzz noodle break is actually an interesting aside, and since it yields to that classic hook rhythm line, it seems to fit really well. Masterful.

Trouble Maker dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Thick sludge in the key of dark fuzz, lumbering like Godzilla strolling up Tokyo's main drag. Definitely a riff rocker, yet the kinda thing that fits across many lines and demonstrates yet again the power of a well written simple riff in the hands of the right players.

Thunder Lily dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Shigeo Naka's raging guitar jam flies with glissandoes, incredible drums (especially in the break), and mean tone. Dark and menacing, fast and evil, and in your face.

Nightmare dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A brief encounter in a dank and dimly lit hall where the echoes of prisoners' chains past linger as the hair stands up on the back of your neck. A 20 second transition between tracks.

Inside Outside dotdotdot
Industrial Trance Surf (Instrumental)

Narration here and there, disco drums and cymbals, whirling psychedelic keys, relentless rhythms, and an uncertain future in an abandoned warehouse on the docks.... relentless and hypnotic. Non melodic and yet fascinating.

Drivin' Me Crazy dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Big fuzz, monster drums, thunder bass, angry string slides, and Northwest riffs, punctuated with the mantra "drivin' me crazy." Riff rockin' garage assault.

Popcorn dotdotdotdot
Whistling Keys Surf (Instrumental)

Gershon Kinglsey's extra cool pop Moog hit "Popcorn" is hard driving with swirly organ lead... you can see the grins on the faces of the band, and the power with which this Hot Butter classic is delivered sets this cover apart from the other rock/surf variations from the likes of the Bikini Beach Band, the Space Hobos, the Treble Spankers, and the Swedish Whistler. Mighty fun!

Solitude dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Solo guitar gently floats above soft bass and keys, presenting a wispy melody line that's quite beautiful. Very peaceful and scenic.

Happy Easter! dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Over the classic Surf Coasters backtrack sound, "Happy Easter!" floats melodic notes and double picked power surges. Big glissandoes and racing waves abound. Warm and summery, but not at all sappy. Great stuff.

How Are You Doing (reprise) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

An acoustic whirl reprise of the opening masterpiece. A thirty second landing from a great hard driving CD.