Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Susan and the SurfTones - Without A Worddotdotdot
artworkSusan Yasinski's East Coast band continues to produce solid, relatively traditional surf instros. This, their second album, features mostly covers, most of which are common tunes. It's not often that covers compel listening, and when they do, it's usually because of some unique elements of the arrangement or sound. Susan's arrangements are true to the originals, but her sound is thicker and the reverb is more track-wide. It brings a nice character to the release. There's no ground breaking here, but the CD is good listening, and cross section of tracks is pleasing.
Picks: Pipeline, A Taste Of Honey, Penetration, Raw Hide (Rawhide), Diamond Head, The Blue Hammer, Spanish Wave, Cry For A Shadow, Secret Agent Man, Sunburn, Perfidia, Rumble, Out Of Limits, Blue Moon, Surfer's Stomp, Apache

Track by Track Review


Pipeline dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The introductory glissando is most unusual in structure, a strong first note, a slight pause, and a quick drop off glissando. Otherwise , the arrangement is a lot like the Ventures, not much like the Chantays' original. The slightly stylized bridge is a nice touch, with a subtle modification that creates a personal touch. A final ringing chord brings it to an unusual end.

A Taste Of Honey dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This song is not a common part of surf sets, though the Halibuts have used it forever. This is a very clean guitar arrangement, with dribble double pick guitar lines in the bridge, and a smooth delivery overall. Nothing like the Tijuana Brass hit, this is smooth and pleasing.

Penetration dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a solid rendition of the Pyramids' classic. The character is more powerful than the original, but the arrangement is nothing special. Good track, but does not stand out.

Raw Hide (Rawhide) dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Link Wray's grinder, played well, but not particularly interesting or memorable. Energetic, just not particularly interesting.

Diamond Head dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A pretty straight cover of the Ventures hit version of the Danny Hamilton classic. This is a hard song to cover, partly because the original is so strong, and because it's hard to create a really fresh approach. The only cover I can think of that is truly cool is the Summer Breeze version. This version is good, solid, and quite nice. The end is really cool. It's a partial verse that ends abruptly.

The Blue Hammer dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"The Blue Hammer" a bluesy progression, a soulful guitar instro, and a surfy exercise in guitar jamming. It doesn't exactly sport a melody, but the progression is interesting enough to hold your attention.

Spanish Wave dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Spanish Wave" sports a Spanish feel, a nice melody line, and plenty of infectious energy. This is the highlight of the CD for me. It's the track I come back to.

Cry For A Shadow dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The only collaboration between the two Beatles guitarists, George Harrison and John Lennon, and their only instro as well, dating from the Tony Sheridan days. The character of this version lies between the Beatles' original and Los Straitjackets' rendering. It's heavily reverbed, and quite smooth. Much less a rockabilly instro aimed at the Shadows, and more a flowing watery song. Quite nice.

Secret Agent Man dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Very fluid cover of the Johnny Rivers hit written by Phil Sloan and Steve Barri for the US version of the UK series Danger Man. The sound of this track is very complimentary to the melody. This is a ringing rendition, and it flows like a river over the spy theme.

Sunburn dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Sunburn" is dramatic, happy, and simple. It sneaks into your soul when you least expect it. It sounds like they're in the other room, but that ads to the charm. It's a sorta big hall sound. Interesting track.

Perfidia dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This ancient classic, from the days of the big band or before, is rendered in deference to the Ventures who popularized it for rock 'n roll fans in 1960. The arrangement is quite pre-surf, not the dry Pacific Northwest sound, but certainly that feel.

Rumble dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Link Wray's classic ominous monster is given up with the same intentionally evil pace Link used, but with a lot less edge and implied fear. Susan doesn't go through the gradually increasing vibrato as Link does. She ends it with a single line and chord that's pretty cool.

Out Of Limits dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Keeping true to the Joe Saraceno / Marketts original, the band delivers a nice, and improved guitar tone performance, but it falls short of the magic of the original. It is a good track, just not remarkable.

Blue Moon dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a cool arrangement of the old big band standard made a rock n' roll hit by the Marcels. It is playful, the guitar rings, the whammy is full and tasteful, and the smoothness is perfect. I think this is the best cover around of this highly melodic old vocal standard.

Surfer's Stomp dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Another Joe Saraceno / Marketts song, with an arrangement based on the Astronauts' version, but significantly personalized with major sustain and some very nice guitar work from Susan Yasinski. It's smooth and flowing.

Apache dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Shimmering guitar tones, ringing chords, and a haunting sound give this cover of the Jerry Lordan classic a unique sound, almost suggesting the Edgar Broughton Band version. This is very tasty.