Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Surf Dawgs - Greatest Surf Hitsdotdotdot
artworkMuch of this release was issued before under the title Driving Guitars. A couple of alternates, and some new tracks too. Solid rock instrumental work in the shadow of The Ventures, but with more edge.
Picks: Penetration, Mr. Moto, Hawaii 5-0, Apache, Journey To The Stars, Exodus, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Nut Rocker, James Bond Theme, Bulldog, Walk, Don't Run - Perfidia, The Big Hurt, Stranger In Paradise, Surf Rider, Rawhide, Venus, Lies, Bumble Bee, Ventures Medley: Walk, Don't Run - Perfidia, Blue Moon - Walk, Don't Run, Ghost Riders In The Sky, Runaway, Ridin' The Wave, Caravan, William Tell Overture, Driving Guitars 2010, James Bond Theme

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.

Hawaii 5-0 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The drums mimic The Ventures' hit really well. This is a spirited cover of the TV theme that's pretty fun.

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 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A classic Ventures backtrack supports slithering guitar playing Judy Garland's "Over The Rainbow." It's every bit as cool as The Ventures would have done it, but a bit grittier.

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.

James Bond Theme dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Monty Norman's classic spy film score is dirty and groovy in a smoky club kind of way. This version grows on you, with it's tuff sound and liquid guitar lines. Sultry and gritty.

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 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a pleasant cover of two of the covers that The Ventures had hits with. Johnny Smith's "Walk, Don't Run" and Alberto Dominguez' "Perfidia" are strongly based on their 1960 hits, just a little dirtier toned.

The Big Hurt dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Wow! This is a superb treatment of Miss Tony Fisher's "The Big Hurt!" The backtrack is infectious, and the song exotic. It's just plain cool! I think only The Vanduras has covered this before. As an historical note, the original was the first recording with phase shifting, albeit from an equipment failure.

Stranger In Paradise dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a superb version of Alexander Borodin's "Polovetsian Dance #1," most familiar under its re-title 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.

Rawhide dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Link Wray's "Rawhide" is very reverent, and features classic surf era piano. Great drums and strong guitar, along with a sense of the vintage sound.

Venus dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Frankie Avalon's is all slithery with slide guitar. This great melody is adapted to instrumental really well here. I often wondered if Ed Marshall and Peter DeAngelis wrote it for rock instead of the orchestral pop treatment it got. No matter, this is really cool. Great guitar work and a perfect backtrack.

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.

Ventures Medley: Walk, Don't Run - Perfidia, Blue Moon - Walk, Don't Run dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Three Ventures cover hits beginning with Johnny Smith's "Walk, Don't Run" done in their 1960 arrangement. Next up is Alberto Dominguez' "Perfidia," done dirtier toned. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "Blue Moon" follows within the same framework. It's really nice. A return to "Walk, Don't Run" rounds out the medley.

Ghost Riders In The Sky dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The wind blows across the plane as them doggies come a-thundering along. This sure is nice. There are some really strong moments, and the layered sound give it a thick ambiance. Very modern, yet reverent.

Colonel Bogie's March
Surf (Instrumental)

"Colonel Bogie's March" ("The Bridge On The River Kwai") is much more interesting than you'd expect. It doesn't take long to get past the quirkiness of the melody line and relax into the performance.

Harlem Nocturne dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The bass and tremolo throb are right on. The lead guitar's modulated tremble is a little odd. yet it works better than I expected, perhaps because it apes a keyboard in some ways.

Runaway dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

This is a pretty straight cover of Del Shannon's "Runaway." Nothing really great, but very well done and likable. The piano lines are very nice, and the gritty guitar tone adds edge, and the manic glissandos are very cool!

Sleepwalkin' dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Santo and Johnny's "Sleep Walk" is the song, and it's done in a slithery, bluesy kind of way. Quite nice.

Ridin' The Wave dotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

"Ridin' The Wave" is a classic riff rocker, with a touch of surf. It's very fun, as many of the fifties guitar instro were. On the jammy side at times, but very enjoyable.

Caravan dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Great drums and infectious rhythms drive "Caravan" in an undulating manner, quite similar to The Ventures' cover. Some fine guitar licks. Are there any bad versions of "Caravan?"

William Tell Overture dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Gioachino Rossini's "William Tell Overture" has been done by instro bands in the Midwest since the fifties at least. The Surf Dawgs texture it uniquely, and play with manic energy. Quite fun.

Driving Guitars 2010 dotdotdotdot
Rock (Instrumental)

The Surf Dawgs recut their version of The Ventures' "Driving Guitars." While very similar, this take is stronger in chemistry and guitar smoothness. Excellent.

James Bond Theme dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Monty Norman's classic spy film score is dirty and groovy in a smoky club kind of way. This version grows on you, with it's tuff sound and liquid guitar lines. Sultry and gritty. The mix here is different.