Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Surf Dawgs featuring Zip Kaplan - 60s Surf Classicsdotdotdot
artworkTwenty-five instros, all well crafted, some of significant interest. Minneapolis' Surf Dawgs are fronted by Zip Kaplan, once a member of Minneapolis legends The Litter. The sound is tough, rock and roll, and genuine.
Picks: Penetration, Mr. Moto, Apache, Journey To The Stars, Exodus, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Nut Rocker, Bulldog, Walk, Don't Run - Perfidia, Stranger In Paradise, Surf Rider, Rawhide, Lies, Bumble Bee, Ghost Riders In The Sky, Runaway, Ridin' The Wave, Caravan, William Tell Overture

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 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.

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.

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.

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
Rock (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.