Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA Collection: Reverb Central
|Being completely unbiased about both surf and this CD, I will attempt to tell you how great this release is. First, it is the second limited edition fundraising CD for KFJC. Second, it's all recorded live at, by, or near KFJC by me. Third, the bands are all great, and the performances magical. Ferenc Dobronyi of Pollo Del Mar did the gorgeous artwork, and I mastered tracks and cut the CD-R for the pressing.|
Picks: Agent Orange - Bite The Hand That Feeds, The Aqua Velvets - Blue Rhumba, The Berzerkers - Manana Surf, John Blair and the Halibuts - Rumble At Waikiki, Brazil 2001 - Cactus, The Eliminators - Dawn Patrol, Caldera, The Insect Surfers - Starfish Ranch, The Mermen - My Black Bag, The Penetrators - The Wind Beneath My Kilt, Pollo Del Mar - Surfmania, The Reventlos - Planet Reventlo, The Surfdusters - Raincoast Rumble, The Torpedoes - Sea Legs, The Van Slyke - Magnum 44, The Woodies - Agent Woodrow
Track by Track Review
Agent Orange - Bite The Hand That Feeds
Skate & Surf Punk (Instrumental)
The day Brazil 2001 played in the pit, Mike Palm and Agent Orange stopped by to be interviewed. Being the surf fanatic that I am, I asked Bernard Yin if they could play a couple of tunes on their equipment if AO were willing. He said yes, and this is it. Mike usually doesn't use effects pedals, so this is a unique venture for him. Mike pioneered the surf punk sound in the early eighties, and held sway over the skate punks for a decade. His band is still magnificent, and have a new CD due out soon. This track really shreds, as they say. The drummer is Dusty Watson also of Slacktone and Jon & the Nightriders! Mike has promised to come do a whole set for us one day soon.
The Aqua Velvets - Blue Rhumba
How many times have you seen a band that can totally relax into a performance, command the attention of players and punters alike on slow flowing pieces, and play and write the most lush and diverse surf based multinationally influence music? Never? Right, unless you've seen the Aqua Velvets. Don't be surprised if you find them doing grand film soundtracks soon. This band is simply talented. The Spaghetti Western exotic lounge surfadelic masters of the universe. This was recorded in '92 during one of their earliest live on air performances. It displays an early arrangement of this song, and is developmental in their style's evolution.
The Berzerkers - Manana Surf
In the mid eighties, there came a cassette by a quirky surf/trash/weirdness band called Da Monz. Evolving and identity searching into numerous other amalgamations, guitarist Dino Francesconi eventually settled on the Berzerkers as a name for the second time, with an all new lineup, and a more surfy/bluesy sound, and no vocals at all. Sporting a monstrous sound, they have appeared numerous times on my show on KFJC. This tracks is from last May's Getting The Sound special, when we narrated the whole process of bringing up a band's sound for the radio. This is a band to watch. They've matured, and are developing quite a reputation.
John Blair and the Halibuts - Rumble At Waikiki
Also from Summer Surf II, the Halibuts brought a special guest. John Blair, leader of Jon & the Nightriders, and a published and well known surf historian, came along to play for us. At that time, his band was in hibernation, so this was a rare chance for him to knock us out, which he did. You will notice the extreme character shift in the music from the Halibuts without John. A whole new sound. This is one fiery track. It kicks you right in the keester, most pleasurably, of course! Pure high velocity surf! John's own band Jon & the Nightriders are among the best playing and recording today.
On the strength of a strong recommendation from Allen Whitman of the Mermen, I invited Brazil 2001 to play for us at Humunga Cowabunga in December '95. They were awesome, and wowed the whole room! I used the intro and outro from that show, but the track comes from radio performance in early '96. This is a stellar band on their way to Billboard's top ten I'm sure. Look for a signing soon.
The Eliminators - Dawn Patrol
These guys have the trad sound down pat. Not just trad, but tight, well groomed and written original surf that rivals the Original Surfaris or the Astronauts. In May of '95, the Eliminators played on the Santa Cruz municipal wharf at an event called Woodies on the Wharf. Uncle Al and I took my board and mics out there and recorded both sets. This track is from the second set. The story that Preston Wilson tells is true... This is one monster good surf band! They are hoping to release the whole show on a double CD soon.
The longest continuous playing surf band in existence, and still fresh with every performance. Mike Palm is filling in on this track. It is not possible to listen to the Halibuts without smiling. All of them are happy when they play, and it shows in their music. "Caldera" is from their recent CD, but when this was recorded at Summer Surf II in July '95, it was called "Uncle Fester's Comb." Look for them to visit us again real soon! I love this band! Lot's of Spanish feel here, and that uniquely identifiable writing style of Pete Curry.
The Insect Surfers - Starfish Ranch
The Insect Surfers had played 3 or 4 times at KFJC in the pit, once even in the lobby from which they released several tracks commercially. In '94, they played Summer Surf I, and that's where this track comes from. It's not on the Summer Surf CD. Their unique vision of surf comes from eighties sensibilities and a reverent helping of the mysterious southwest desert. Dave Arnson is the most energetic player you'll ever see. They are simply Wonderful.
The Mermen - My Black Bag
When God asks... This song is one of their pounding assaulting tunes. It is one powerful performance. It's the same take as on Summer Surf, but with extra stuff at the end, and even better sound. It was recorded at Summer Surf I in July '94. The Mermen are San Francisco's leading exponent of psychedelic surf, pushing the envelope as far as possible. The lo-fi boys and trad worshipers hate 'em, and that's good. They have spurred many others to experiment with the surf idiom, bringing it back to real life. The Mermen are one of my very favorite bands ever.
The Penetrators - The Wind Beneath My Kilt
The Penetrators flew all the way out from Tuscaloosa Alabama just to play at Summer Surf III for us in July of '96. This track is an infectious Scottish surf ditty. These boys have something really special happening in their reverb tanks. Their new CD is really cool, and I suspect they'll be making quite a buzz for themselves in the not-quite-trad world of reverb. Every time I play this song, someone calls and asks where they can get it.
Pollo Del Mar - Surfmania
Another San Francisco band pushing the envelope of what is surf, with major influences from the Insect Surfers and Frank Zappa. Here they do an Aqua Velvets song, recorded at their appearance at Summer Surf III in July '96. I think they will continue to create a following because they are unique, and have an infectious sound. Lead guitarist Ferenc Dobronyi is the man under who's mouse the artwork for this CD came to be.
The Reventlos - Planet Reventlo
There is no more unique a band on earth! When these guys called and said "we wanna play on your show," I'd never heard of them. They sent me their CD, and that was that! Their story is simple. They were a vocal band, saw the Tail Gators, said we can do better than that, fired their singer, and became monsters. If any band today can be classed as different than all the rest, it's them, with their warbly guitars and transitional mixtures of surf and space and metal and country and... every song is a capsule, an island unto itself. This was recorded in the pit in November of '95.
The Surfdusters - Raincoast Rumble
Summer Surf III brought the Surfdusters all the way down from Canada just to play for us. Their vision of surf is certainly reverent, but it is also influenced by the Canadian instro sound. This band is headed by the publisher of Live Wire magazine. You'll find them to be a unique surf band, and their music to be diverse and enjoyable.
San Francisco's other buzz bandits, the main exponent of surf punk and rippin' speedo guitar North of LA. This track came from their first stop by KFJC. It was recorded in the pit in early '95. Already checked out by two major labels, it's only a matter of time before they are signed and take over the world. Look out Seattle, this is real rockin' stuff. MTV will love them too. I mean that in a good way! They will rule the world.
The Van Slyke - Magnum 44
This is history! I recorded this in the pit when it was the lobby back in '66. It's the first time a band ever played live at KFJC. The Van Slyke were a folk rock outfit, with future members of Bay Area legends the Other Side, the Chocolate Watchband, the Syndicate of Sound, and Bogus Thunder. This is the first time I ever recorded anything. What I knew was studios used ambient techniques, so I employed both microphones then at KFJC in the room, got the band to move around and turn up or down, and we got "Walking Down The Road" (now lost), "Summertime," and "Pipeline," also known as "Liberty's Whip" and "Magnum 44." These were the only known recordings of this band, that quickly split, and seldom played live.
The Woodies - Agent Woodrow
Surf Spy (Instrumental)
The best trad surf band the Bay Area has ever seen, and among the best world wide, The Woodies embodied everything that traditional surf was, but did it with Rick Escobar's amazing writing. They almost got signed to AVI last year. Alas, they broke up recently. This track was recorded in '95 at an event Robert Emmett and I co-hosted called Psychotronic Surf. The crowd's reaction at the end tells all. They were great! RIP!