Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Surf Dawgs - Driving Guitarsdotdotdotdot
artworkThe Surf Dawgs are a band that plays classic surf and rock instros with modern edge. Hints of this band have been in obscure corners of the web, but only hints. It's not often a cover album is really worth checking out, but this is. It sports a very modern sound, retains the spirit and often the intent of the originals, and in the end, delivers a very enjoyable set of music that they've made their own. This disc has been a long time coming. I'm glad it's finally out.
Picks: Penetration, Driving Guitars, Yellow Jacket, Mr. Moto, Apache, Journey To The Stars, Exodus, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Nut Rocker, Ram-Bunk-Shush, Bulldog, Walk Don't Run / Perfidia, Stranger In Paradise, Surf Rider, Raw-Hide, Lies, Bumble Bee

Track by Track Review

Penetration dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a fully competent cover of the Pyramids' superb "Penetration." That's maybe an understatement. This version is based on the Ventures' cover from their In Space album. The arrangement shows lots of chemistry, great infectious drums, and a real sense of ensemble. Very good!

Driving Guitars dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The Ventures' "Driving Guitars" is done with strength and reverence. The sound is modern rock, with thick guitar tone via distortion and compression. Quite nice.

Yellow Jacket dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Yellow Jacket" is another Ventures tune. The Surf Dawgs do it with great reverence. I particularly appreciate the piano. Great timing and togetherness in the performance.

Mr. Moto dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Paul Johnson's first tune is done very well with a modern sound and a carefully reconstituted arrangement. Where the original used two guitars delicately balanced, along with piano and drums (no bass), The Surf Dawgs use twin leads, bass and drums. There are some very cool string twangs in the middle.

Apache dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Based strongly on the Jorgen Ingmann version, this is very silky and rhythmic. The drums are interesting in their rolling cadence.

Journey To The Stars dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of the more engaging Ventures originals, "Journey To The Stars" is done with a rock edge and heavy sound. Cheesy keys are the only part of this I don't care for. Otherwise, it's a fine modern interpretation that retains great reverence. What continues to strike me is how much more power deep reverb surf guitar has than the louder modern tones.

Exodus dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Churchy keys back up a smooth guitar delivery of the theme from the film. This is a much rounder and less intense version than the Lively Ones or even the Halibuts. Still, it's very cool and fun.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is such a cool choice to cover. It begins innocently enough with piano, but then in comes Ventures-like drums and rhythm chords, and superbly fluid lead guitar. The slides up the neck to bridge notes are really cool, as is the whammy. "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" is an excellent track.

Nut Rocker dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a pretty strait forward cover of the Nut Cracker Suite extract originally used to create B. Bumble and the Stingers' "Nut Rocker." The lead piano is superb. What's very cool here is the muted guitar in support, with its dirty chords. The noodly break adds a rockabilly flavor. This is a very nice updating of a venerable classic.

Ram-Bunk-Shush dotdotdot
Blues Rock (Instrumental)

Freddie King's hit gets a modern sound with swimming whammy chords. A very enjoyable journey down memory lane.

Bulldog dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This version of the Fireballs' "Bulldog" is done with significant reverence, yet it sounds like today. Great energy, perfect pacing, and a simple but engaging arrangement. Quite nice.

Walk Don't Run / Perfidia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A couple of tunes liberated from obscurity by the Ventures in 1960 get segued together. The sound and performance are so solid that you don't even notice that it's pretty strait forward. Excellent.

Stranger In Paradise dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a superb version of Alexander Borodin's "Polovetsian Dance #1," most familiar under its retitle from the musical Kismet as used here. The arrangement is partially the way the Ventures did it under the title "Ten Seconds To Heaven," but much more rock. This is very good, loaded with dirty glissandos, and thick-tones guitar.

Surf Rider dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Nokie Edwards's classic melody is played with liquid guitar and edge. The arrangement is simple and not rushed, giving it ample power while retaining much of the beauty of the Lively Ones' cover.

Raw-Hide dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Link Wray and his Raymen's "Raw-Hide" is twanged and romped with great drums and piano. This sounds vintage and modern at the same time. Really solid.

Lies dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

With requisite thick chords, The Knickerbockers' "Lies" is edgy and very listenable. watery whammy chords add intrigue.

Bumble Bee dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's often rock-interpreted epic is done with double picking at a moderate pace, not too far from the Ventures' arrangement, but with an updated modern sound. It's a rewarding track with very cool whammy and tone.