Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Swamp Coolers - Surf Islanddotdotdot
artworkThe use of surf guitars and Trinidad steel is both unique and very pleasing. These guys must be very cool live! There are two studio tracks that show off the band well, plus 10 live tracks that don't do them justice. The are held back by too much drums and too little guitar, making them seem much less electric surf than they really are. The live audio sounds like soundboard. The music, however, is quite good.
Picks: The Circle Of Life, Penetration, Bali Ha'i, 101 On The 101, The Calhoun Surf, Walk, Don't Run, Baja, Tequila, Out Of Limits, Rockabilly Medley, Escape From El Diablo, Ho Ho Ha Ha Hee Hee Ha Ha

Track by Track Review


The Circle Of Life dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

There's a silky sound and a very warm invitation amidst the island melody. It's bathed in a large wash of reverb that seems to call to the Caribbean. Steel drums and long sustain. It's vacation time in a steel drum.

Penetration dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This live take of "Penetration" swims in traditional sound. Lot's of muted reverb and Pyramids' style splash. It's very nicely done, though a little subdued.

Bali Ha'i dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very cool rendition of this song. Steel drums and island guitar in a fastish take on Richard Rodgers' and Oscar Hammerstein II' classic "Bali Ha'i" from South Pacific.

101 On The 101 dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"101 On The 101" is definitely a traveling song. Whammy chords and shimmering charm, with a long-note melody that calls to the road. It's an endearing song with an optimistic edge.

The Calhoun Surf dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Danny Amis' "The Calhoun Surf" is played at a moderate pace with lots of reverb. It's not very lively, but it does have the requisite reverb and splash.

Walk, Don't Run dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This fairly slow pace version of Johnny Smith's "Walk, Don't Run" is based in part on the Ventures' "Walk, Don't Run '64," but the addition of steel drums adds such a cool feeling to it. Very tropical.

Baja dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A slow haunted guitar and tribal drums gently bring on a splendid tropical interpretation of Lee Hazelwood's highly flexible "Baja." The warmth of the steel drums and the cool roundness of the guitar create a superb image. Very good arrangement!

Tequila dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Chuck Rio's Mexican classic gets reborn in Trinidad... very fun, like a vacation video. Too much!

Out Of Limits dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Mar-Kets' mysterious hit shimmers and shines. At mid tempo, it's pretty much like the original, but with such a gentler sound and the steel drums, "Out Of Limits" takes on a shimmering sparkle and a palm tree feel.

Rockabilly Medley dotdotdot
Surfabilly (Instrumental)

This is a series of fifties classics with a touch of surf and island sound. Quite fun.

Escape From El Diablo dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Escape From El Diablo" is a splendid song with an attractive riff that's emphasized by the steel. Muted reverbed splash, and a sunny disposition makes this a splendid warm day drive song.

Ho Ho Ha Ha Hee Hee Ha Ha dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Ho Ho Ha Ha Hee Hee Ha Ha" is an odd choice for a surf instro, yet it sure is fun and friendly. It has a Christmas sound about it, and it is loaded with dripping muted reverb. Very nice!