Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA Collection: The Dog's Bollocks Of U.S.A. Rock 'n' Roll Instrumentals Vol. 11
|This is a particularly solid set of obscuros, though as always with this series, there's no attempt at restoration, and the stereo artifacts from the transfer are very annoying on headphones or high quality monitors.|
Picks: Ronnie Brent - Cowboys and Indians, The Four Satins - Drop Off, The Lancers - When Johnny Comes Draggin' Home, The Mockers - Madalena, Children Of The Sun, Tommy Reed and the Runaways - Swamp Surfer, Durango, The Ree-Gents - Downshiftin', The Riptides - Machine Gun, Johnny Hammer and the Runabouts - Lobo, After Effects, The Starfires - Re-Entry, Hand Full Of Blood, The Star Tones - The Chase, Harlem Nocturne, The Strangers - This Brave New World, Summertime, The Surrounders - The McCoy, The Swags - Rockin' Matilda, Tommy and the Hustlers - Diggin' Out, The Torquays - Busting Point, Blowing The Bubbles, The Other Side, The Treasures - Minor Chaos, The Uniques - Renegade, The Valiants - Jack The Ripper, The Vistas - Moon Relay, The Vitrones - London Fog, The Vy-Dels - Unknown
Track by Track Review
Ronnie Brent - Cowboys and Indians
This is one cool tune. The guitarist trades melodies and styles from verse to verse, with a trembling vibrato line over tom toms for the Indians, and an almost Buck Owens sound over a chunka-chunka rhythm for the cowboys. It's pretty fun.
The Four Satins - Drop Off
This sounds like presurf twang at times, but then there are the glissandos and double picking. Heavy on the echo, and raging with energy. "Drop Off" is pretty frantic. It's not about finesse! Originally issued as the flip side to a vocal titled "Hip Hop."
The Lancers - When Johnny Comes Draggin' Home
The Lancers had a raw sound indeed. This is the B-side to their incredible garage version of "Baja." It rips and pummels. Great primitive raw edged surf.
Great grimy intense reverb renders this track oh-so surf! Real basic, and all about the liquidy outboard splash. For such an unremarkable melody, "Madalena" sure is a cruncher. Great stuff!
The Mockers - Children Of The Sun
The Mockers issued this single B-side in the US in April '65. It's a heavily vibratoed instrumental. Vibrato low-E lead lines, slow melody, lightweight rhythm and really nice arranging create a fine easy instro. The chorus in unnecessary, but the track works really well. It's also available on the CD.
Tommy Reed and the Runaways - Swamp Surfer
A Pipeline rhythm backs this moody melody instro. It's very unusual, and the infectious bridges make it really cool. The break is a bit jammy, but otherwise "Swamp Surfer" is just plain boss.
Tommy Reed and the Runaways - Durango
This is a fine instro with a moody Mexican flavor. Echoed guitar and a faux mariachi horn in the break complete the picture. "Durango" is warm and gentle, like an after the rain scene. Excellent.
The Ree-Gents - Downshiftin'
"Downshiftin'" sports much tension between lead and rhythm, with a lead that is slightly surf reverbed, and the riff is much like many lesser surf single, and with the second guitar whammy, this is right where the line between rock and surf gets foggy. A great find. The Ree-Gents were likely from upstate New York.
The Riptides - Machine Gun
This 1959 record has been covered many times in the rockabilly circles, and has also found its way into "surf" collections. Highly rhythmic and infectious, "Machine Gun" is just plain cool. Great primitive fifties guitar and 15 IPS slap back.
Johnny Hammer and the Runabouts - Lobo
Near Surf (Instrumental)
A grode Low-E guitar grumbles under an introductory narrative, then launches into basic riff rocker with enough chamber reverb to make it sound pretty surfy. A cool and mighty obscure track, with overdubbed handclaps and a rock solid beat. Also credited to The Runabouts.
Johnny Hammer and the Runabouts - After Effects
Near Surf (Instrumental)
Big vibrato throb guitar over a "Running Scared" (Roy Orbison) beat, with a nasty sax. It sounds like an Al Casey kinda track. Just slightly south of surf, this cool track broods over who knows what lost love with an edgy rebel rock feel. Also credited to The Runabouts.
A very un-surfy song style, more R&B, but a very reverbed guitar. This song is energetic, fun, and utterly contagious.
The Starfires - Hand Full Of Blood
An Illinois label issued this. It has a much more surf sound than "Space Needle," so it is very likely not the same band at all. There are behind the bridge fills, tribal drums, eerie guitar leads, and a cool rhythmic second guitar. A fine track, exotic and most unusual.
The Star Tones - The Chase
Echoed guitar driving sideways on the Road Runners' "Quasimodo." So, the question is, which came first? This is a very interesting arrangement. It loses none of the charm, and because it's morphed so much, it has a fresh feel despite it's obvious cover roots. Originally issued on Band Box 354.
The Star Tones - Harlem Nocturne
Vibrating Surf (Instrumental)
Man-oh-man, when you set the vibrato on throbus maximus for a pulsier than thou Viscounts effect, you get so much shimmer that it makes you scared to go out at night. This is absolutely undulating, and really cool. No sax, just incredibly pulsed echoed guitar. This killer version of Earl Hagen's marvelous tune substitutes a mighty vibrato lead guitar for the sax, a sound relegated to the rhythm guitar when the Viscounts did it.
The Strangers - In The Beginning
Soft silky guitar over exotic percussion and moody sub-tiki scenery. Close to MOR, yet within the rock window in an almost Shadows vein.
The Strangers - This Brave New World
Near Surf (Instrumental)
In the Atlantics' vein, but more bass heavy. I'm sure it's an Atlantics tune, but can't place it at the moment. Intense and infectious.
The Strangers - Summertime
This is a fastish version of George Gershwin's "Summertime" with surf guitar and modest sound quality. While it's not particularly memorable, the drums are cool and the session sounds very genuine. The high register verse is a refreshing shift.
The Surrounders - The McCoy
This has a late fifties sound, but also a presurf structure. The general track reverb gives it a more surf edge, though it's likely not from the right period. Still, it''s one of those tracks that calls up the right ambiance, if only in a riff rockin' format.
The Swags - Rockin' Matilda
This is a cool version of "Waltzing Matilda," with some very presurf links in the sound, including chunky muted chord rhythm and reverb chords. It's from 1960, but sure fits well with early surf. very cool!
Tommy and the Hustlers - Diggin' Out
Near Surf (Instrumental)
"Diggin' Out" opens with drums and a bass line, moves into ringing chords, then finally employs reverbed surfisms. Its a jam-like chord based number with lots of charm and flair, but no real melody. The coolest part is the tinkly fifties piano break.
The Torquays - Busting Point
The Torquays were one of a million bands using that name between 1960 and 1967. This is the Detroit band. Their music was dominated by the Fireballs, the Ventures, and the Chantays. "Busting Point" is rhythmic and mighty infectious, like a hotter version of Lonnie Mack's "Memphis" converted to surf. Sometimes too jam like, but always fun, this is a great rare find.
The Torquays - Blowing The Bubbles
This is a rocker that uses a surf beat behind it, drums and chunky rhythm guitar, but has a sax lead. I can't tell from the sound what the year was, and there's nothing I can find on the net either abut this band.
The Torquays - The Other Side
Another obviated title rests on this excellent B-side. I think this is better than the A-side. It uses a Ventures drum beat, and a great surf-n-Euro melody line that is both original and familiar. Excellent surf rhythm guitar and a driven performance make this a must have single.
The Treasures - Minor Chaos
This 1964 release is one of the GREAT surf obscuros. The Treasures called Fargo, North Dakota home, and shunned the surf label, seeing it as limiting. They employed Gretch hollow body guitars for a more gutty sound. "Minor Chaos" is melodic, powerful, and rhythmic. The drums are spectacular, and the melody is strong. This is an essential surf monster. This is credited to Treasures guitarist Paul Hubbard, but the Steve Rowe and the Furys release of the same song credits Steve Rowe as the writer. It's a surf instro who done it. Paul says they co-wrote it, and it developed in various bands they both shared.
A catchy rolling beat and Indian theme give "Renegade" a very engaging sound. This surf instro is very obscure, and it's quite a joy to find on a comp. It has a midwest feel to the sound, but that's merely an observation. I don't know anything about this band.
The Valiants - Jack The Ripper
This is a superb surf obscuro. "Jack The Ripper" (Link Wray and his Raymen) is just so cool in vintage reverb. The infectious delicate surf backtrack supports ringing trembling whammy perfectly. Its wonderful charm and pure surf sound are just too cool!
Originally issued on Ridge 109.
"Moon Relay" is a highly infectious, very rhythm oriented number. It rolls right along, plays really well loud in your car on warm summer night, and stays with you. It is very simple, and very effective. The pristine playing and glorious writing is similar to the (San Jose) Torquays work, chunky, delicate, and whammy driven. Great track.
The Vitrones - London Fog
This is a slow, deep throated groaner of a surf instro. The sustained notes sometimes play with low octave danger and sometimes with high register shimmer. "London Fog" is really very cool!
"Unknown" has been covered many times. The Mermen still include it in their live shows, as captured on their Haunted House CD, and Splashback do a killer rendition when they play live as well. This is one crunchy track, splashy and intense right from the initial reverb kick and glissando. Don Bradley's melody line is exceptionally good. It was the A-side of "What I'm Gonna Do" (Garnet 101).