Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Susan And The SurfTones - There She Goes Againdotdotdotdot
artworkAs you probably know, I'm a fan of Susan Yasinski. Somehow, I missed getting this done last month. It's rather an ambitious undertaking to give the stark desperation of the Velvet Underground's music the aquatic flow and innocence of surf music. Susan And The SurfTones have done well, bridging these two entirely disparate sounds with grace and engaging arrangements.
Picks: White Light White Heat, There She Goes Again, Venus In Furs, Waiting For My Man, Femme Fatale, Foggy Notion, Sweet Jane, Run, Run, Run, All Tomorrow's Parties, What Goes On, I Can't Stand It

Track by Track Review

White Light White Heat dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Tribal drums and rich guitar give a surf edge to the drone and desperation of Lou Reed's "White Light White Heat." It's really amazing what ringing chords do for the gloom of this unmelodic song.

There She Goes Again dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The bridge chords are much more aquatic than I ever realized, and the melody is actually very pretty. Thanks to Susan for bringing out the hidden surf instro in "There She Goes Again." Sorta tribal drums and moody bass run under a whistling organ and surf guitar. Pretty darn cool!

Venus In Furs dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The sort of chanteuse sound of "Venus In Furs" becomes a sullen, almost funeral song of the sea in this arrangement. I can well imagine this track being very effectively used in a film score. Really cool!

Waiting For My Man dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Waiting For My Man" is very moody, with tribal drums and a hypnotic sound. If not for Susan's love of VU's music, this would likely never even occur to anyone to do this way. There's something very incongruous about a song about waiting for a drug pusher and the wholesomeness of longboards and sunny beaches.

Femme Fatale dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Wow, what a transition "Femme Fatale" went through. Gone are the depressing chanteuse moods of the Velvet Underground and Nico, replaced by a warm guitar and sunrise optimism. If for only this illustration, it's worth checking out. Lovely!

Foggy Notion dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

One of the Velvet Underground's more musically upbeat tunes, "Foggy Notion" gets a semi-tribal treatment with reverb. It's a unmelodic side give it something of a sad edge.

Sweet Jane dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Sweet Jane" is perhaps my favorite VU song. I expected its semi-sunny disposition to be the focus of a surf instro arrangement, but alas Susan and the SurfTones made is very sad. My anticipation may have been misplaced, but I was not disappointed. This slower moving sultry arrangement is very cool.

Run, Run, Run dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A large sparkling intro and ringing lead tone bring forth a very different image than the original. It retains the desperation, but gets it from tone and reverbed drone instead of a vocal that has given up all hope. It's odd how well this works given the songs inherent repetition and droning nature.

All Tomorrow's Parties dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The exotic rhythm that hinted of Indian sitar drone in the Velvet Underground's original is replaced by a somewhat sad quiet water flow with gently tribal drums. It's a bit of a surfers lament. Thoroughly cool!

What Goes On dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Susan and the SurfTones bring a smooth and uplifting sound with a touch of tribal throbbing to a song that started life as a very dreary drone. The result is an island vision of ritual nights and setting suns. Really nice.

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 wacko darkness, and whammy!