Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA Collection: Surf Guitars Rumble
|This is one of those CD's that really dilemmize you between loving and hating the bozos that issued it. To begin with, it's on the German bootleg label SURF that have issued a number of surf comps over the years, including the 3 volume vinyl-only Dick Dale series, and The Super Stocks "Thunder Road" CD. As with most bootleggers, they are more interested in the revenue than the music. It's sad to see a 36 track CD that is so varied in quality, contains so many non-surf instrumentals, and can't even get the track listing correct. It has no liner notes at all. Just a single sheet insert. This not to say that it isn't a great collection of instrumental rock. That's not even to say it's not a must for surf aficionados. It is to say that it's frustrating to waste CD space on some of this tripe, and to know some poor misguided souls will actually believe that it is all surf music and that the songs are as listed. OK! I'm done ranting. I'll get off my soap box now. First we need to correct the track listing. The following is courtesy Pipeline Instrumental Review, with some corrections by me. |
The Starfires 'Re-Entry' The Rhythm Boys 'Chinese Surf' The Pyramids 'Pressure' The Pyramids 'Contact' The Space Walkers 'Tecumseh' The Super Stocks 'Midnight Run' The Statesmen 'Teen Theme' The Sportsmen 'Sandstorm' The Ringos 'Ain't No Big Thing' The Stringmen 'Pow-Wow' The Starliners 'Yellow Bird' The Waikiki Rumblers 'Waikiki Rumble' The Velmas 'Surfin' Bells' Dave & the Customs 'Ali Baba' The Fabulous Continentals 'Breakin' Up' The Starfires 'Somethin' Else' Johnny Barakat & the Vestels 'The Long Ride' The Ricco-Shays 'Damascus' Bob Vaught & the Renegaids 'Exotic' The Valiants 'The Valiant' The Vibrasonics 'Thunderstorm' The Hurricanes 'Hurricane' The Surfers 'Widget' The Vibrasonics 'Drag Race' The Starfires 'Fink' The Shadows 'Flyin' High' The Emporers 'The Breeze & I' The Roulettes 'Surfers Charge' The Blue Denims 'The Chase' The Millionaires 'Rock And A Half' The Strato-Coasters 'Three Guitar Theme' The Wailers 'On The Rocks' The Telstars 'Topless' The Telstars 'Pow Wow' The Raiders 'Dardenela' The Webs 'Blue Skies'
The following are the ONLY Surf cuts on this CD....
3) The Pyramids - Pressure
4) The Pyramids - Contact
6) The Super Stocks - Midnight Run
12) The Waikiki Rumblers - Waikiki Rumble
13) The Velmas - Surfin Bells
14) Dave & The Customs - Ali Baba
15) The Fabulous Continentals - Breakin' Up
17) Johnny Barakat & The Vestels - The Long Ride
19) Bob Vaught & The Renegaids - Exotic
20) The Valiants - The Valiant
24) The Vibrasonics - Drag Race
27) The Emperors - The Breeze & I.
34) The Telstars - Pow-Wow
35) The Raiders - Dardenela
This CD is mostly very good to great, even when it isn't surf. Let's just say that it is a MUST, but it is also a struggle. I guess the space I devoted to it says that.
This song was also covered by the Pyramids on their last single. The Super Stocks were produced by Jim Economides (Dick Dale's Capital sessions, with most of this band instead of the Del-tones) or Gary Usher. The Super Stocks were a magnificent studio band. The line up was Richie Podolor - lead guitar (one of surf's most endearing writers), Richard Burns - rhythm guitar, Hal Blaine - drums, Russell Bridges (Leon Russell) - piano, Steven Kreisman (Steve Douglas) - sax, and Bill Cooper - bass. This line up also recorded as the Devons, Richie Allen & The Pacific Surfers, and the band behind many of the Hondells and Sandy Nelson recordings, with occasional substitutions. Podolor went on with partner Bill Cooper to produce for Dunhill Records (Steppenwolf's first LP was the first thing I heard that got me interested in music production), before founding the American Recording Studio. All of the Super Stocks material is available legally elsewhere, mastered from the original session tapes.
Richie Podolor's guitar work on this track is stunningly clean. This is one of the essential vintage tracks. A great tune, and very infectious. This is THEE defining Super Stocks track. It is melodic, dramatic, emotional, powerful, dynamic, and highly melodic. It was written by Gary Usher, Richard Burns, and Roger Christian. It has one of the most infectious sounds of any of the more layered less assaultive surf instros. Totally great.
Picks: Re-Entry, Chinese Surf, Pressure, Contact, Tecumseh, Midnight Run, Teen Theme, Sandstorm, Ain't No Big Thing, Pow-Wow, Yellow Bird, Waikiki Rumble, Surfin' Bells, Ali Baba, Breakin' Up, Somethin' Else, The Long Ride, Damascus, Exotic, The Valiant, Thunderstorm, Hurricane, Widget, Drag Race, Fink, Flyin' High, The Breeze and I, Surfer's Charge, The Chase, Rock And A Half, Three Guitar Theme, On The Rocks, Topless, Pow-Wow, Dardenela, Blue Skies
Track by Track Review
A very un-surfy song style, more R&B, but a very reverbed guitar. This song is energetic, fun, and utterly contagious.
Heavy low-E vibrato, surf intentions, and spiffy double picking in a fifties framework yield a hybrid track of surf worthy note. Very cool. No idea who these boys were.
"Pressure" was one of the Pyramids follow-up singles to "Penetration," and did not appear on their album. Totally infectious, a collector's must have, and a surf fan's delight.
This is the B side of "Pressure," and was not on their album. As with the flip side, it is a very cool rhythmic and infectious track.
Indian Surf (Instrumental)
A thin lead guitar tone, no reverb, and a lot of sax are the telltale signs of a fifties rock instro. It sports a few of the Indian isms you'd expect from a track named after such an Indian luminary. His name is uttered occasionally in a dramatic fashion.
This is THEE defining Super Stocks track. It is melodic, dramatic, emotional, powerful, dynamic, and highly melodic. It was written by Gary Usher, Richard Burns, and Roger Christian. It has one of the most infectious sounds of any of the more layered less assaultive surf instros. Totally great.
Fifties Rock (Instrumental)
Jeepers, vibes and a thin guitar. Interesting, if only for it's unusual use of the vibes. Otherwise, it's a shallow track, though much more melodic than most fifties instros.
Fifties Rock (Instrumental)
This is not a cover of Johnny & the Hurricanes' great instro. It is a melody-free grinding fifties B-side kinda thing, intense, Link Wray influenced, and energetic.
A fifties progression and thin guitar noodling and a bit of surf lurking in the corners.
This fifties boogie has appeared on several fifties comps to date. It's mostly a riff and a rhythm, with a cool chunky break. It could be surfed up easily enough. It reminds me of a Johnny Fortune clone attempt, but from a prior decade. Cool
Yup, it's Arthur Lyman's composition that was such a hit for Lawrence Welk, but that's where the similarities end. It's vibrato lead guitar is very surfy, though the backtrack is a standard fifties thing. Pretty cool.
This is a very interesting surf tune. Many of the vintage surf bands used pianos, not Farfisas like so many of the new bands. The piano was a rhythmic melody instrument... listen to The Chantays' "Pipeline" or Dick Dale & his Del-tones' "Miserlou." This band clearly had the surf sound down, as is evident in the backing to this piano lead tune. Most unusual and cool. It is not the same tune as Jon & the Nightriders (natch - that was written in the eighties). Vince and the Waikiki Rumblers was fronted by Vince Mutulo from San Jose, who also was involved in the recording of Paul Revere and the Raiders' infectious "Like Long Hair."
Christmas Surf (Instrumental)
This is a surf instro version of "Sleigh Ride." Very cool, in that trashy period commercial sort of way. Most cool.
Dave and the Customs recorded what must be the other "Miserlou." This is a totally tubular track that just plain moves. The relentless rolling drums, the low-E double-picked melody, the crescendo break... it made me twitch in my britches the first time I heard it. This is definitely the highlight of this CD. Oh, what I wouldn't do for the studio tapes on this one! Who were these guys, anyway? The other side of this single was a vocal version of "Shortnin' Bread." Their other single was "Mizerlou" c/w "Bony Morony."
This is one of those frustrating moments when a band that totally had the instruments and the sound, goes off and records something that isn't even remotely surf, and doesn't lend itself to being surfed up... interesting, but they must have recorded something really cool I've never heard. It's an R&B Vegas trash thing, but with surf sensibilities. Odd, and the absurd laughs make is even less credible.
A very un-surfy track, without the redeeming Pacific Northwest sound or the deep feelings of the Minneapolis pre surf era. Just a fifties instro, though the cow bell is totally cool.
Johnny Barakat was a kid who'd been shot in a holdup of his folks store, and left restricted to a wheel chair. Out of sheer boredom, he learned to play the guitar... and did he ever. His buddies the Vestells backed him on this incredible vintage surf monster. This is the second best track on the CD, and it appears nowhere else. It may be from vinyl, but it's totally killer. His whole catalog of recordings is on AVI's Rare Surf Volume 3.
Crunchy rhythm guitar, EchoPlexed lead, and a semi Middle Eastern melody. Not very exotic, not surfy, and not very infectious, though it could really be surfed up by a solid band like the Space Cossacks. I can hear the chunk now!
Bob Vaught's band had a pretty dry sound, but they did some really cool surf stuff, most notably, the best recording of "Surfin' Tragedy." This song started life by the Sentinals in that horn-lead Pachuko soul style of the Soul Kings and the Rhythm Kings... sort of Mariachi R&B. The Sentinals recorded it with Tommy Nunes' guitar lead, and this is a cover of that. It is interesting, but not Bob's best work, or the best version of the song in either style. This is a driving treatment of Bruce Morgan' tune, completely different from the powerful-gorgeous Sentinals treatment. This is raw in your face garage surf.
Can you spell r-a-r-e! Not the best surf track ever, but really cool, and so rare that I'll never see an original copy. It has a very unusual melody line, and it has a certain appeal. Very nice track.
No, this isn't an early lineup of England's incredible Vibrasonic. It is a fifties kinda rhythm thing with no more than a progression passing for a melody. Fast and energetic, but not memorable.
Every band had to have a song named after themselves in those heady days gone by, and it usually was the B-side of their first single. It was also usually just a riff and rhythm. This has a certain surf or near-surf sound to it, but not much melody.
Super low-E whammy lines, piano tinkling in the back, and a progression that goes on and on, interrupted only for froggy croaks of "Widget" and a sax break or two.
This is an interesting track, because of the pre-surf sound, the slides, the rhythmic backtrack, and the energy. It's a fifties instro that fits a surf set just fine.
A progression masquerading as a melody in that fifties style. When the lead guitar moves to a damped style, it begins to reek of surfisms. very cool track, despite it's minimal melody.
Fifties twangin' riff rock, with a big guitar sound. No, it's not the Brit band.
Heavy duty surf sound here. The tune is the other Ernesto Lacuona tune (the first being "Malaguena") done by many of the surf bands, including Jim Messina and the Jesters. This is really heavy gage E-string work, with wild mariachi horns and a ton of fire. A totally infectious and cool release from 1963 on Best.
"Surfer's Charge" is heavily rhythm dependent. The rhythm is reverbed, with extreme room reverb on the hand claps. The track is mostly just a riff, but the use of slowed real room echo on the hand claps is an innovative mechanical and creative pre-Quadraverb production effect, not widely used. The Roulettes were really the Invaders. This was originally called "Invasion." This is a subsequent single release.
A "Yellow Rose Of Texas" sorta thing, fifties simple. The guitar is stinging in spots, and the sound is somewhere between the Shadows and a hard working Bison Bop band.
This is a little less melodic and interesting than their other tracks, but still a great fifties instro track.
A guitar boogie shuffle with a progression and a lack of imagination.
Now, I love the Wailers, but this is just a pale attempt to recapture "Tall Cool One" by playing a clone slightly faster, or did it come before? Maybe it was the earlier arrangement. I don't know. It's a solid Pacific Northwest rocker.
Echoplex Indian Surf (Instrumental)
Surf guitars and Echoplex and a direct rip off of "Apache" that evolves into a Las Vegas stop-start grind. The Indian tom-toms are cool.
Indian theme melody style over a reverbed rhythm guitar pickin' single palm-damped notes... very interesting.
Texas band that mostly did post-rockabilly guitar instros. The backtrack is uncharacteristically surfish for this band. Sax lead and whammied lead guitar using thick tones.
Super reverbed pluckage, whammified notes, shimmering Hawaiian images... it's all here, in a simple and appealing surf instro.