Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Susan and the SurfTones - Susan and the SurfTones Play The Beatles Vol 2 - The Dear Prudence Sessionsdotdotdot
artworkThe light, poppy, and melodic nature of much of The Beatles' writing makes it excellent fodder for instrumental treatment. This second volume of their work is very well done, and very enjoyable. I was most impressed with the gentle tracks on this release, which is opposite my usual preference. Susan and the Surftones have outdone themselves with this release.

One track here I really love is "Tomorrow Never Knows."
Picks: Please Please Me, Ask Me Why, Till There Was You, Any Time At All, I'll Cry Instead, Tell Me Why, I'll Be Back, Every Little Thing, I Feel Fine, The Night Before, If I Needed Someone, Nowhere Man, I'm Looking Through You, Eleanor Rigby, Ob La Di Ob La Da, Dear Prudence, Tomorrow Never Knows, Love Me Do

Track by Track Review


Please Please Me dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This has really lovely guitar tone, and the delicate light organ and restrained drums and bass perfectly suit the song. The organ's sound lies somewhere between Johnny and the Hurricanes and early Grateful Dead. Quite nice.

Ask Me Why dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Light, poppy, and simply easy to take. "Ask Me Why" is presented with a very smooth and warm style. I was unimpressed with the original, but what Susan and the Surftones have done here is very pleasing indeed.

I Saw Her Standing There dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A pare of guitars play with each other in the bridges for a pleasing affect. This is considerable toned down from the loud brashness of the original.

Till There Was You dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Meredith Wilson's "Till There Was You" is arranged with warmth and gentility. This very soothing version is relaxing and romantic. Quite nice.

I'll Get You dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This melodic song is done in a rich and relaxed manner, retaining the pop intent of the writers, and lending it a very fluid sound.

It Won't Be Long dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Toned down, "It Won't Be Long" is really nice. Its smoothness and easy gate are very complimentary to the writing.

All I've Got To Do dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The tone is round and the arrangement easy going in this version of "All I've Got To Do." Quite nice.

Can't Buy Me Love dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

melodically easy to instrumentalize, "Can't Buy Me Love" is a pleasant listen, but seems to need more changes, perhaps such as verse two being in a different register.

Any Time At All dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Any Time At All" is a gentle and soothing number. It has blue tone and very nice playing. Lovely chords and duel guitar lines in the break really make it work.

I'll Cry Instead dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"I'll Cry Instead" is well suited to instrumental treatment because the melody is strong and easy on the soul. Susan and the Surftones play it warmly.

The first time I heard this imaginatively covered was on Joshua Rifkin's Baroque Beatle Book.

Tell Me Why dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

While the arrangement is very direct and simple, "Tell Me Why" is particularly nice, with the lead guitar tonally working very well against the rhythm.

I'll Be Back dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The rhythm track is suitably sad, and the blend of the two guitars particularly soothing. More than pleasant, there's a gentle heart here. I don't even like this song, but I really like what Susan and the Surftones have done with it.

Every Little Thing dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is very nicely phrased. "Every Little Thing" has an endearing echoed lead guitar and occasionally dramatic drums. It's a smooth and gently edgy track.

You Can't Do That dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This didn't work for me at all. The reason is in the writing, not the performance or arrangement. I never realized before how juxtaposed the melody line and rhythm pattern are. Technically correct, but instrumentally it's clear that they really don't work well together.

I Feel Fine dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The intense grit of the opening guitar line in the original is replaced by gentle modulation. I didn't like that at first, but as the arrangement progressed, it seemed more fitting. This version of "I Feel Fine" is very easy to listen to and to like.

Dizzy Miss Lizzie dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Larry Williams' "Dizzy Miss Lizzie" is done somewhere to the side of the original and The Beatles cover. The intensity of both are replaced with a gentler sound.

Ticket To Ride dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The rhythm guitar plays with a lovely ringing sound, but the leads seems stiff at times. The arrangement is soft and easy.

The Night Before dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The rhythm is infectious, and the melody line is laid out with grace and charm. "The Night Before" is very nice, bringing you back again.

If I Needed Someone dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"If I Needed Someone" is a melodically pleasing song that adapts easily to instrumental treatment. Susan and the Surftones present it in a beautiful arrangement that accents it's fundamentally sound writing. Very nice!

Nowhere Man dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Dueling guitars open the song with the signature riff. The tone here approaches ringing, but is softer than that. This is very pretty, with rich textures.

I'm Looking Through You dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is just fine for an afternoon in the country where the breeze smells of fresh cut hay. Bordering on country, "I'm Looking Through You" is done with an eye on the back porch without a hickoidal leaning.

Think For Yourself dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The texture of the keys seems to me to be the most interesting thing here. The mix doesn't really work, and the performance seems lackluster, which is at odds with Susan and the Surftones' norm.

Eleanor Rigby dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One o the saddest pop songs of the sixties, "Eleanor Rigby" is very well adapted here. Susan and the Surftones give it a soothing and suitable sad sound. This is very nice.

She Said She Said dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"She Said She Said" is not as melodic as many of The Beatles' songs. The arrangement is layered and very respectful.

Ob La Di Ob La Da dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This song always struck me as a children's song gone awry. For my money, Susan and the Surftones save it from the gimmick pile. Nicely done.

Dear Prudence dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Dear Prudence" is one of my favorite Beatle songs, which I loved when Siouxsie and the Banshees covered it. This is delicate and rich, and it evokes sadness and gentility. Very pretty.

Tomorrow Never Knows dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Boiling The Beatles down to one song would result in "Tomorrow Never Knows." This is a very different interpretation, yet it retains the kernel of the idea. The fuzz drone, the tablas, the pulsing bass, and the interesting tone throughout really make this work well. Superb!

Love Me Do dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Harmonica and an easy beat provide an arena for "Love Me Do." Almost country sounding, it ends up working really well. Quite nice.