Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Susan and the SurfTones - Fluid Drivedotdotdotdot
artworkIt's been a while (seems like too long), but here it is. The new CD from Susan and the SurfTones continues to display the band's development, and particularly, Susan's every more liquidy guitar. Lot's of very cool whammy here. About half covers, with some tracks recorded live at KFJC. The new CD from Susan and the SurfTones is a digital download only release distributing CD Baby. Details are on the band's website, along with artwork.

The CD asks about the link between the Myddle Class and the Velvet Underground. The one I know about is an early live encounter. Late in 1965, the Myddle Class were booked to play at Summit High School. The other band on the bill was an unknown NY outfit called the Velvet Underground. Fresh off being dumped from Cafe What for being undanceable, VU delivered the cacophony they would be later loved for to an unsuspecting audience, half of which left before the Myddle Class came on.
Picks: Fluid Drive, I (Who Have Nothing), Bahama Breeze, Come Together, Question Of The Night, Free As The Wind, Ramona Rita, Odinocki, I Can't Stand It, Tiki Tiki, Leopard Spots, Blue Moon

Track by Track Review

Fluid Drive dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

What a cool song. "Fluid Drive" wastes no time catching your fancy. An infectious rhythm and pace support a warm and friendly melody line. There are motion and innocence in the song, both of which carry you along, willing or not. It's just a very satisfying and endearing piece of music.

I (Who Have Nothing) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is really lovely, with swimming whammy and a lush-lite sound that features very cool calliope keys. This sure is friendly. I really like the whammy warble. This is Jerry Leiber's and Mike Stoller's song that saw various pop versions, most notably Tom Jones, Ben E. King, and others, and is very nicely adapted to instrumental form here. This is based on Terry Knight and the Pack's version, a band that became Grand Funk Railroad when Terry Knight moved to management and production.

Bahama Breeze dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Bahama Breeze" is as light and breezy as its title demands. The Gem keys add an almost surreal air to lovely and fluid song. Its carefree sound and melody float through the room with an inviting sound.

Come Together dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

As slowly moving as the Beatles' original, but with a fluid aquatic sound in lieu of the round funk the Liverpooligans used. It's lighter, more fluid arrangement, and circling keys really make "Come Together" come alive. Very cool!

Question Of The Night dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Question Of The Night" moves slowly along with a soul-blues feeling. A bit like a cross between vintage blues-jazz combo singles of the sixties and surf, it seems like more than a jam, yet not exactly melodic. Big chords give it a powerful edge.

Free As The Wind dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A great fluid melody and solid backtrack carry off a fine instrumentalization of this song. It rocks, but also flows easily. The melody is very durable and well suited for this treatment. "Free As The Wind" is a Gerry Goffin and Carole King song cut once by one of the great overlooked pop-garage bands of the sixties, the Myddle Class. Their version of "I Happen To Love You" is way better than the Electric Prunes' version, which is no slouch in its own right.

Ramona Rita dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With a Bo Diddley inspired beat behind, this very surf-toned instro rings with a bluesy surfy melody that relies on its contrast with the rhythm track to create a superb tension. Very cool!

Odinocki dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Odinocki" is a keyboard lead track, in part because it oozed from the pen of keyboardist Mark Kelly. There are guitar passages, but it is the organ that commands center stage. This is a style that I find hard to carry off, but Susan and the SurfTones do.

I Can't Stand It dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is an interesting choice to cover. Lou Reed's music is not usually thought f as melodic, yet this works very well. The big chords and their sustain make this what it is. Surf twang, NY whacko darkness, and whammy!

Tiki Tiki dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Tiki Tiki" is edgy and spooky, with tuff drums and solid bass. It's a small combo rock instro with a catchy little riff and haunted keyboard. There's a lot of innocence here. This otherwise unreleased song was captured live in the KFJC Pit when Susan and the SurfTones graced it with a superb performance.

Leopard Spots dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This was one of my favorite tracks from their Pit Stop. I'm not sure why exactly, There's just something in the melody line that I like. "Leopard Spots" sports a quirky riff dominated melody that is intricate and fun.

Blue Moon dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a cool arrangement of the old standard made a rock n' roll hit by the Marcels. Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote it in 1934 for Manhattan Melodrama. Susan and the SurfTones make it 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.