Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Thrusters - The Landing - Studio 1984dotdotdotdot
artworkSanta Cruz has been known as Surf City for over a century, long before the sport migrated to the mainland, and long before Leo Fender invented the outboard reverb tank. Yet, with the splendid waves, surf culture, and hundreds of unemployed musicians, it has rarely been home to a surf band, with the exception of part time surf monsters the Humans aka the Ninja Nomads, the Neon Spores, the Thongs, and the Thrusters. From the remnants of late seventies / early eighties surf punk synthesis band the Surf Pistols, fronted by Soave Loco (Douglas Eaton), came the birth of the amazingly interesting and unique surfologists, the Thrusters. With Roger Rush - keyboards, Pat Wheeler - bass/rhythm guitar, Mark Falge - drums, and Francois Briere on sax, they created a unique vision of the surf ethos by blending the angst of the Sex Pistols, the foundations of trad surf, the psycho feedback energy of Jimi Hendrix, the jazz sensibilities of Henry Mancini, and LOUD. Soave's writing was brilliant, especially in the vocal area, with super surf songs like"Sunshine Rider,""You Should Have Been There,""Beirut Surf," and"Soul Surf Stomp."

Instrumentally, they were incredible. This six song DAT is comprised of the first half of an unreleased album that was to be filled with the rest of the songs above. Only precious and high energy live performances exist of the other songs. This was a band to reckon with.
Picks: Banzai Pipeline, Never Turn Your Back (On The Ocean), The Landing, Bombora, Penetration, Baja

Track by Track Review


Banzai Pipeline dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a very jazzy version of the Henry Mancini surf groove. The guitar and sax play a duet lead, punctuated with big chord guitar breaks. The keyboards are low in the mix, providing an atmospheric counterpoint to the main body of the work. A very spunky and unusual version.

Never Turn Your Back (On The Ocean) dotdotdotdot
Surf (Vocal)

Roger Rush (future-Shockwaves and Neon Spores) wrote this song. This has to be the most resourceful of all surf lyrics on record. Roger converted the content of the state hazardous warning signs posted at the beach into this daring warning. Soave's slithering guitar work, especially where he is synchronized with the tom toms, is stunning. The Neon Spores used to do this song instrumentally.

The Landing dotdotdotdotdot
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)

Before anyone was experimenting with surf, while it was still a sacred cow to be worshipped and not messed with, Santa Cruz's Thrusters were masking great groovy noises with surf as their foundation. They rose from the ashes of the Surf Pistols, but went one step farther by bringing into their band influences from psych and metal, not just the punk-surf they'd started with. This is a huge track, with a long and dramatic Hendrix / Mermen like introduction that howls and swirls and cries out about evil waves comin' to get you. Then, it breaks into a melodic and fluid monster of a track that lives and breaths the sea. Stylistically, it is their's alone. Trad purists will hate it, but before the Mermen stretched out from their surf instro baseline, these guys were creating magical huge surf from unusually artful places.

Bombora dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Shredding guitar lines, with great subtle keys underneath. It creates a smooth sound. The sax here is very jazzy and French as it dominates the breaks with flowing notes. A very solid version of this Original Surfaris' song.

Penetration dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

As you know, I don't much care for covers of familiar standards unless they are unusual or break new ground. This does both. It howls and builds on the twin note lead guitar and synchronized sax melody line, almost like you might imagine what would happen if the Allman Brothers did this song. Most unusual.

Baja dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Totally unique variation on the Astronauts' great surf hit. It's smooth, fast, has a hot lead, a vibrato rhythm guitar, a magnificent sax bridge, cool keys in the breaks, and a great big finish that ends stark cold. Wow.