Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA Collection: MUI Cool Instro Songs
|This monster set is an mp3 issue only... search and you'll find it. Tons of great, hard to find tracks from Joe Jabon's bands, plus a giant helping of standards and rarities.|
Picks: The Aqua Velvets - Ho'okipa, Surf Nouveau, The Astronauts - Baja, Surf Party, Banzai Surf - Cat On A Hot Foam Board, For A Few Dollars More, King Of The Hill, Dick Dale - Nitro, Dick Dale and his Del-tones - The Victor, The Wedge, The Deep End - Hot Shot - High Noon In Cancun, Django Twango - 007 / Goldfinger, Apache, Casbah, Hawaii Five-0, Pink Panther, Sabre Dance, The Sheik Of Hips, Sunset, The Galaxy Trio - Horus, Neil LeVang - (Ghost) Riders In The Sky, The Lively Ones - Surf Rider, The Nebulas - The Godfather, Sandy Nelson - Casbah, The Pyramids - Penetration, Slacktone - Cat On A Hot Foam Board, SPF-50 - Diamond Head, Spy-Fi - Dick Tracy, Los Straitjackets - Della Street, Jetty Motel, Sing, Sing, Sing, Tailspin, The Surfaris (Jim Pash) - Pipeline, The Surf Coasters - Midnight Headlight, Miserlou, Wataridori, The Tornados - Telstar, The Ventures - Caravan, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, The Viscounts - Harlem Nocturne
Track by Track Review
The Aqua Velvets - Ho'okipa
Mysterious Surf (Instrumental)
"Ho'okipa" is a fast tempo song with the drum phase effect. It is a chord dominated progression that evokes a weekend drive down a mysterious road.
The Aqua Velvets - Surf Nouveau
Surf Moderne (Instrumental)
A cool surf rocker of moderate tempo and infectious melody. It's one of several tracks on the CD where the drums are intentionally out of phase left-to-right, giving them a highly present feel without interfering with the guitar lines. It took me a while to get used to this effect.
"Baja" displays power of their trademark three guitar line up, and shows what a few weeks at RCA Hollywood could do. Actually, having said that, I'd really like to remix this. The lead guitar is too loud in the mix. Anyway, if there's a list of the ten most significant surf singles, this must be on it. Hazelwood had a knack for melody, and the Astronauts had a knack for the sound, and together, look out!
The Astronauts - Surf Party
This is the title track from the movie Surf Party, and it appeared on the soundtrack and a as a single, but never on an Astronauts album. A great example of what a college band from Boulder Colorado can do with Al Schmitt at the controls at RCA Hollywood. Remarkable.
Banzai Surf - Cat On A Hot Foam Board
Gigantic thick guitar assault pummels an already super power surf epic. Banzai Surf really take "Cat On A Hot Foam Board" over the top! It's intense and shreds mercilessly. Totally modern.
Banzai Surf - For A Few Dollars More
Lush slow and moody, "For A Few Dollars More" is done with reverence for the feeling of the song delivered through a newer sound. It's a little like the transformation that Rare Bird put it through, but much more spaghetti surf like. Excellent!
Banzai Surf - King Of The Hill
This is a brilliant power surf cover of the theme to the King Of The Hill TV show. Heavy reverb chunk in loud punky tone. Very cool!
This track has become Dick's anthem for the 90s. A lot of bands are covering it, because it's fast and infectious, even though there's little melody. It's a hot track, and Dick's playing is superb.
Dick Dale and his Del-tones - The Victor
Not the great Capital session, but from the GNP sessions in '75. It's a fine version, but suffers from the same weakness they all had, little energy in the mix, but a good performance. The Capital session is a lot stronger. This track ranks as one of the great Middle Eastern surf epics. It sports a minimal melody, but has an intensity all it's own, which lead the Mermen to include it in their infamous "Middle Eastern medley." Power, Intensity, Grace... what more do you want? This version is both better and lesser, depending on what you are looking for. More chunk and clarity, less energy and panache.
Dick Dale and his Del-tones - The Wedge
Dick's third recording of one of his most enduring original compositions. From the GNP sessions, it has incredible playing, but limited punch. Really clean and a good listen.
The Deep End - Hot Shot - High Noon In Cancun
This is a concatenation of two tracks from The Deep End's superb first release. "Hot Shot " employs double picked mean guitar and splendid surf energy. A powerful adventure into the ways of the waves. It segues directly into "High Noon In Cancun." A solid track. "High Noon In Cancun" provides a beautiful glimpse into a Spanish melody and structure, delicate clean guitar, and a cantina feel. Excellent together!
Django Twango - 007 / Goldfinger
Rich in reverb and Fender twang, Django Twango pace themselves with the confidence of excellent musicians. No need for rushing when the playing falls in place so well. "007/Goldfinger" ebbs and lows with grace and liquid charm. The swirly modulation to play the bridge adds variety.
Too often played with little or no imagination, Jerry Lordan's compelling "Apache" is very nicely rearranged. The opening is created by the addition of a couple of verses from "Hiawatha" (the theme from an early sixties Hamm's beer commercial - "From The Land Of Sky Blue Water"). This sets the stage for a whole new direction, more tribal, almost Davie Allan like in drama, but more subtle. Once "Apache" arrives, the tribal drama keeps it in the serious arena. The underlying arrangement is the Shadows and not Jorgen Ingmann, but there ends the comparison. Very cool!
The signature opening riff is slightly reconfigured, as are the various melody lines, giving "Casbah" an original and powerful sound. There are lots of original changes here, and an entirely new mid section. The thick whammy intensity of Django Twango is always wonderful to hear. Very cool!
Django Twango - Hawaii Five-0
Slowed some from the usual cover, but not as slow and silky as the Mermen, this version of Mort Shuman's TV theme floats on gently rolling swells of echoed guitar and subdued keys. This is quite pretty. That is of course before the second half kicks in with reverb and refined gusto.
Django Twango - Pink Panther
Some very tasteful guitar work carries Henry Mancini's sultry goof-ball theme into a slithery world of coy seduction. Very nice track.
Django Twango - Sabre Dance
This is a rippin' version of Aram Ilich Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance" much like Love Sculpture's rave up, just a little less frantic. Excellent playing, intense energy, and serious spunk.
Django Twango - The Sheik Of Hips
Arabian mysteries unfold through the smoothly haunting sound and infectious melody. This track belongs on a soundtrack somewhere! The circular melody is compelling, mysterious, and fluid. Over time, this song grows more and more on you.
Born of the sort of circular guitar line that Miles Corbin so powerfully writes, "Sunset" shows off Joe Jabon's well developed creative sense. It's a beautiful song with a floating sense and lush whammy paradise vision.
Django Twango - Work Song
Nat Adderly's "Work Song" is done in a kind of jazzy rock style. It's an adventurous outing with a loud and angular sound.
Fuzz Surf (Instrumental)
Slow and sinewy, with warm fuzz and whammy, and a slightly mysterious riff. The melody is middle eastern flavored, hinting of the harem and navel jewels. It's pretty melodic and one dimensional, but the occasional harmonics and tasty whammy keep it afloat.
Neil LeVang - (Ghost) Riders In The Sky
This is a reasonable arrangement of Stan Jones'song, based on The Ramrods hit, but not as rockin'. Neil LeVang was one of Lawrence Welk's guitarists. This was recorded off The Lawrence Welk Show.
The Lively Ones - Surf Rider
This is what happens when a real surfband covers a Nokie Edwards (Ventures) tune that had no relation to surf as written. In fact, it started life as a Potato concept song called "Spudnik." This is the grand and beautiful song that runs under the ending credits of Pulp Fiction. This is the full length version, not the single edit.
The Nebulas - The Godfather
The theme to the film, this is fast and double picked in a surf rather than Italian style, and drives much harder than other versions. But wait, there's the slow line-dance verse. Very cool!
Damn near the best surf single ever, and certainly Sandy Nelson's best track. The brilliant surf guitar work is from my personal favorite studio player Richie Podolor. This single kicks major hind quarter. Fast rippin' tune delivered like a machine gun. Amazingly good! It's been in my top ten for 32 years now.
The Pyramids - Penetration
One of a handful of nationally successful surf single, this track has been covered more than "Miserlou," and in more varieties of rock styles. If you don't own this track, you have entered the surf idiom yet. This is one of the essential classics. The production is unusual and masterful, and the melody is simple and enduring. It spawned hundreds of covers, and is still quite infectious.
The Shadows - Perfidia
Jeez, the Ventures do the cha cha cha MOR upper crust prom.
Slacktone - Cat On A Hot Foam Board
Wow! Dave's guitaristry focused on the New Dimensions' "Cat On A Hot Foam Board" is matched pound for pound by Dusty Watson's power drums and Mike Sullivan's precision bass thunder. Too cool!
Danny Hamilton's "Diamond Head" is done in a fairly straightforward fashion, but with a more rock tone. It's quite enjoyable and well laid out, with ample spunk and style.
Spy World (Instrumental)
Big tom toms, big whammy chords, big guitar leads, organ swirl, and tuff drums and smooth bass thunder. A dozen bands have picked up on this song, each giving it a new sound that is strictly their own. Big edge, and lots of coolness.
Los Straitjackets - Della Street
The street, not Perry Mason's secretary, or is it the other way 'round. This is a coy little number with a great walking bass line that speaks volumes about the suaveness of the subject matter, which ever it may be. Fine guitar work, and a detective sort of air.
Los Straitjackets - Jetty Motel
I love this highly melodic track. It has pure surf feel and great surf sounds. The twang and the flair are impeccably delivered to great effect.
Los Straitjackets - Sing, Sing, Sing
Louis Prima's legendary "Sing, Sing, Sing" spiked, and twanged. Whammy and y'ur basic rock 'n' roll beat. Not quite as cool as the Flat Duo Jets' version, but cool no doubt.
Los Straitjackets - Tailspin
From the double picked intro slam, the track sucks you right in, as do most of their monsters. It is very fast, fun, high energy, and mostly a riff slammed into your subconscious, emphasized with major low-E double picked rage during the bridge.
The Surfaris (Jim Pash) - Pipeline
Surf Revival Review (Instrumental)
A solid rendition, not outstanding, but very listenable.
The Surf Coasters - Midnight Headlight
"Midnight Headlight" is a very pretty and fluid song with a lushness that rides between the strong tone and silky bass, and those drums! Liquid reverb, glissandos, surf rhythms, whammy chords, string swipes... what more do you need?
The Surf Coasters - Miserlou
This is the 1994 take, and it reminds me just how much these guys have always rocked! Totally stoked!
The Surf Coasters - Wataridori
"Wataridori" is adventurous in a European instro kind of way, with echoed guitar and a slight gypsy feeling. Very pretty and lush, as well as compelling!
Space Rock (Instrumental)
This is it, the Tornados signature hit. Brilliantly filled with damped plucking, rhythmic churn, and whirring space. Joe Meek wrote this tune. It is utterly unique in the annals of rock. Meek was the UK master of thick completely filled sound, compressed until totally flat, and very cool. This 1962 release has been done by a bazillion surf bands. A must have for any serious instro fan. It is the Tornados signature tune.
Duke Ellington's classic "Caravan" pumped with exotic tribal strip tease drums and a fast paced power. The guitar work is splendid. Rhythmic and chunky.
The Ventures - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Enio Morricone's "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly" has seen some really cool surf and rock treatments, most notably by The Halibuts. The keys are just so-so. This is not my favorite version by far, but it is quite credible and solid.
The Viscounts - Harlem Nocturne
The Viscounts' spectacular 1959 hit was a cover of "Harlem Nocturne" was reissued again in 1960 and 1966 after selling out of the first pressing. It features the very intense and sultry sax of Harry Haller, which drives this track with the danger of a back alley. The throbbing vibrato guitar adds to the ominous sound. This is one magnificent track.