Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Tornadoes - Bustin' Surfboards '98dotdot
artworkThis band, while peopled by mostly original members, has a completely different character than they did in '64 when their album and hit single (Bustin' Surfboards) were so powerful. In those days, their sound was primal, intensely tribal, and very basic. The effectiveness of their recorded music was undeniable, being among the faves of contemporary surf bands. Today, they have a much less gut-level sound. They produce principally light weight tracks. While energetic at times, the guts are missing, as is most of the coolness of the arrangements. There are several guest performers on these tracks, including Paul Johnson (Belairs) and Jim Masoner (Lively Ones). The general characterization I can make is: precise without benefit of humanity - that may sound harsh, but the majority of these tracks seem sterile, almost devoid of any emotion, and without any sense of urgency or immediacy. This CD was issued last year as Bustin' Surfboards '97.
Picks: God's Finger, Pier Pressure, Talladega, Southern Surf

Track by Track Review

God's Finger dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a tasteful modern country-surf track. Groovy glissandos and whammy chords, saucy sax, and a Southern rock feel. While the tone is dry, the track really works well. Great drums and pumping bass.

Bustin' Surfboards '98 dotdotdot
Surf Country (Instrumental)

If youÕre waiting for a better recording of the hit, or an updated edge amplifying the power of the old single, you might just as well skip to the next track. This completely changes the character of the tune, and not in a way that adds to the magic. ItÕs fast, too busy, and has four note fills where there used to be that really effective whammy... I just donÕt get it. ItÕs like taking a very powerful minor key tune about danger, and making it into a funny track about getting killed on the rocks. If it had not been done so well in Ō64, or if it were not a cover of such a familiar tune, it would work fine. Without taking itÕs history into account, this is playful, almost laughingly dancerific. It frolics and fluffs, and has the kind of fanciful humor country instros often sport. However, I canÕt get past how much it misses the point of the original. The fact is that this seems quite at odds with the whole concept of the song.

Green Flash dotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Southern California surf/frat boys the Bomboras play a very Link-like tune (I'm Branded?), which must have been recorded in a school hallway... The sound sux.

Devil's Tail dotdotdot
Surf R&B (Instrumental)

Chunky instro fare, with a decidedly R&B feel, and nothing surf sounding except the lead guitar, which is actually much closer to Austin or Nashville tonality. This tune has a late-in-life optimism about it. Norman Knowles (Revels) plays sax on this track. It is playful and enjoyable.

Phantom (All I Ask of You/Phantom of the Opera) dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Hollywood Tornadoes first new track in thirty years closes out the set. It's called "Phantom," and it's from Phantom of the Opera. Still, it's an OK track.

Ola Final dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Spanish intentions, double picked dramatics, deliberate pacing, and some nice writing ideas converge in a track that doesnÕt quite gel. It has a fifties slow dance feel, and a pompous air. Sterile sounding, or maybe just lacking emotional immediacy. Pleasant, but not memorable.

Bedlam dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Paul Johnson guests on this cover of his own standard from his days with the Belairs. It's just like most of his other recordings of this tune. The Tornadoes didn't bring anything new to the table, which is too bad. They are an appropriate backing for Paul, but it would have been nice to see some inventive Tornado-isms in the arrangement. Only Jack Freeman's (Dick Dale) sax seems creative and fresh.

Pier Pressure dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Spaghetti references aside, this track meanders between fast and slow with humor and drama, and implies both Italian westerns and vibrato swirl. The changes are refreshing. It's a far cry from trad surf, but "Deadwood" not only has the feel, Squid Vicious is not afraid to risk the wrath of the trad nazis by venturing into uncharted territory. Nice track.

Talladega dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Indian toms, bass thunder, damped guitar chunk, and a western melody. This is a mostly solid track, except for the sluggish middle part. The lack of emotional content leaves it relatively unimpressive.

Dawn Patrol dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Mid tempo music for a pre dawn escapade, or maybe breakfast with Jacque le Beau. The writing is good, but the track seems to wander a bit, and the delivery seems somewhat stiff.

Southern Surf dotdotdotdot
Southern Surf (Instrumental)

Jim Masoner (Lively Ones) plays guitar on this track, which he wrote. This is probably the best track on this CD. It has a cowboy surf feel, and more energy than anything else here. The fluid nature of the composition is in stark contrast to the other tracks. It is a little deliberate sounding, and uses many elements usually associated with the NRPS (New Riders Of The Purple Sage) school of large hall country rock thought. That's not a negative, just a characterization. I like this track. It is smooth, well thought out, and fluid.

Full Circle dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This seems completely out of the envelope, pompous and deliberate, lacking any of the innocence of surf. Unimpressive MOR.