Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Surfdusters - Save The Wavesdotdotdotdot
artworkBritish Columbia's The Surfdusters seem to fly under the radar mostly, which is sad because fine players have passed through the band and many of their songs are wonderful. Save The Waves [Fireball 008] 2011 collects a broad cross section of material from their long career, and some I've not heard before too. If you aren't already a fan, pick this up so you can change that oversight.
Picks: Radar Hill, El Dementia, Drive, Wreck Beach, Russian Dressing, Henpicker, Hero Of The Beach, Danger Beat, Gas Jockey, Save The Waves, The Moons Of Jupiter, Hot Rod Alley, March of the Invisible Traffic Cops, Kona Angel, Surf Buggy, The Mighty Niagara, Banzai Rider, Gruesome, Haunted Surf, Attack Of The 50 Ft. Surf, The Reef, Mexi-Fried, The Boulder Fields

Track by Track Review


Radar Hill dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The surf rolls ambiently in the background, and a damn fine haunting fog horn warns of rocks below. Then, a fine melodic surf tune comes flooding in. It's not a trad structure, more a fast progressive musical content with a picturesque melody line. Really nice track.

El Dementia dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

You have to be crazy to surf there... thundering drums, double picked menacing waves, fluid melody line, and a mean vision.

Drive dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Revving up those engines, chunking up the reverb guitar twang chords, then the Surfdusters launch into a riff dominated instro with similarities to Neil Hefty's "Batman," but with much more intrigue than such tunes usually have. Powerful and fun, "Drive" is a spirited romp down the highway of no return. Way fun.

Wreck Beach dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Wreck Beach" is a vibrato throbbing twangin' ominous surf tune, mostly dependent on a riff and drama, but still quite effective. Very nice again.

Russian Dressing dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Russian Dressing" is a beautiful and haunting tune. The lead organ has a distant and ghostly quality, and placed over the surf rhythm, it works better than just about any organ lead surf instro I've ever heard. Nice track.

Henpicker dotdotdot
Twisted Billboard Morph (Instrumental)

Here's where the gray matter begins to swell. The fluffy treatment of Kurt Cobain's billboard hit says all that's needed about the self-righteousness of grunge, especially when sandwiched between slabs of "Gimme Gimme Gimme." Concrete turned to Jell-O. It's a beautiful thing.

Phantom Train dot
Metal Guitar Hero (Instrumental)

This track is a self indulgent noodle fest, it the overworked big venue guitar hero sense. No melody, just leaning back with hair flying in the artificial wind while long sustained notes burst the ear drums.

Hero Of The Beach dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is an unusual surf tune, employing nontraditional lead tones via an extreme warble keyboard, and accompanied by trad rhythm guitar. It's nearly whistling melodic sound is both catchy and annoying, not in a negative sense, but in a disquieting sense. I found myself both drawn to it and uneasy with it. That tension hold the interest. The whistling organ lead is almost calliopic. This is a playful and infectious track.

Chill Out dot
Metal Guitar Hero (Instrumental)

Chunk and thump, and a rhythmic backtrack that promised but did not deliver a changing lead attitude. The lead lines are the sort of thing that was merely a two line guitar break in a single, now stretched out to five minutes.

Danger Beat dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A great twangy Ralph Cameron Johnston tune, plucky reverb lead, and a solid performance. Always great to hear this Canadian band. The sound is really thin.

Gas Jockey dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Lumbering drums a la "The Rise And Fall Of Flingel Bunt" underpin a rockin' and playful vibrato number with a unique character. It's more jam like than melodic, but it is playful and quirky in the same way Flingel Bunt is. Nice track.

Save The Waves dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Surfdusters are a Canadian band (Vancouver BC) formed around the nucleus of Rich Hagensen (Live Wire Magazine), whose association with Ralph Cameron Johnston goes way back with the Garage Surfers, the Fridge Magnets, the Unknowns, etc.... "Save The Waves" is from their brand new CD, which is one of the great new releases! Their approach is pretty traditional, but it's edgy.

The Moons Of Jupiter dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Echoed vibratoed guitar, night time shimmer, and a slight mist make this a perfect detective under a lamp post at 3 AM kinda tune. Mid tempo pulsing pleasure.

Chill Out dot
Metal Guitar Hero (Instrumental)

Chunk and thump, and a rhythmic backtrack that promised but did not deliver a changing lead attitude. The lead lines are the sort of thing that was merely a two line guitar break in a single, now stretched out to five minutes.

Hot Rod Alley dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of the two best instro tracks is the Surfdusters' Hot Rod Alley! Wow! This Canadian band from New Westminster BC is a lineal descendent of Ralph & the Garage Surfers / the Unknowns / and the Fridge Magnets.

March of the Invisible Traffic Cops dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Marching of to the waves, reverbed guitar chops and whistling organ over sync-locked bass and drums make for a fun and diversionary journey through a B-movie no man's land. Very suave.

Border Run dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

California Sun drums, thumpy bass, and chunky rhythms, but where’s the melody?

Kona Angel dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Hawaiianesq guitar work, sweetly lapped and honed. Breezy whispering evening lagoons and romantic walks. Slow and sinewy.

Surf Buggy dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

First off, this is not the Dick Dale tune, it's an original. Second, the riff is friendly and warm. Thirdly, the infectious rhythm brings movement to the stodgiest of feet. There's no shortage of watery energy here.

The Mighty Niagara dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"The Mighty Niagara" is a lovely mid tempo song with a delicate and infectious rhythm and warm melody line. It's soft feel and sound are superb, and the drums deliver a perfect surf beat.

Banzai Rider dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Thick and chunky surf, moody sadness, double picked lead work, and round tones. This is a nice track, with a lot of appeal. I think a more powerful mix would take it over the top, not that this doesn't work, but it is a case where the multitracks could be brought forth in a more sympathetic light. Mean and fluid.

Gruesome dotdotdot
Fuzz (Instrumental)

An instro originally from Canada's Gruesomes, this is a garage fuzz monster, a track apart from the rest here. It's not even slightly surf, but it is totally Fuzztones / Miracle Workers squarewave cool. So, there's no reason not to include it in a surf set.

Haunted Surf dotdotdot
Television Spy (Instrumental)

This television theme is slightly updated, but retains the cheese whip intentions of Lalo Schiffrin, right down to the period bongos. Cool, but I think I'd not place it at the head of the CD as track 1

Attack Of The 50 Ft. Surf dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very cool track. The Surfdusters bring interesting percussion and surf riffology together for an afternoon drive along the coast in search of a perfect summer set. Very nice track!

The Reef dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"The Reef" is a very surfy number with a simple lead line over a trad bed. This song delivers a pleasing surf sound for sure.

Mexi-Fried dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Muted reverb and whammy chords open this infectious song. The two guitars superbly play the same melody, one muted and the other open. "Mexi-Fried" is a splendid bit of writing and arranging. I love this!

The Boulder Fields dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"The Boulder Fields" is captured live in lo-fi mono. While I'd really like to hear this well recorded, the song is so good that you cannot dial away on the aural merits of the session alone. Fine composing and arranging, and solid performances all around.