Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Water Logged is the fourth in KFJC's series of fundraising surf CD's. It rounds up 22 instrumental surf bands from around the world caught live exclusively for KFJC. As you listen to this CD, you'll be taken on a journey to many exotic and far away places where reverb is king.
The Bay Area is well represented here, and so is the Southland, plus the Pacific Northwest and Austin, and we even have bands from far away Italy and Finland.
Mega thanks to all of the bands that donated these performances. Without them, the music goes away. Special thanks also to Ferenc Dobronyi for the artwork, Alison and Nina Wilson for the Ron Wilson release, and especially all the folks at KFJC.
The biggest thanks goes to you for appreciating surf music and making my Saturday nights worth while. This CD is for you.
Picks: Latin'ia, Lara's Theme, Area 51, Meet Mr. Reventlo, Rumble, Mexico Beach, Emancipate This Water Planet, Francisco's Dance, Swampabilly Hop, Liberty's Whip, Creepy Crawly, Fearless Putter, Dune Buggy, Undertow, Topple The Moai, 1'45, Spanish Main, Bo Hits A Floater, The Wedge, New Frontiers, Wing Commander, Lonely Road
Track by Track Review
The Mermen played with their new line up for us for the first time earlier this year, and for a mere two and a half hours. While there were many fine moments in the two sets they played, I came away most often thinking about this splendid rendering of Tommy Nuñes' classic "Latiña." The arrangement is stunning, taking Tommy's gorgeous tune into new emotional territory.
San Francisco's best kept space surf secret is Planet Seven. Their spacy theremin noises and dry crunchy chords support a dark space surf variation on this classic movie theme. Very unusual treatment. The contrast between the Hawkwind space grind and the melodic surf guitar creates an interesting tension. This was cut in front of an appreciative audience in Appreciation Hall.
Also known as "Mare Tranquilis," this haunting song displays eerie scenes and dangerous doings in forbidden places. "Area 51" is slow and sensual, edgie and floating. Big Myke Destiny gave part of his show time to these guys on a pleasant Saturday, and they rocked and surfed and swayed in our infamous Pit.
Sludge-O-Metal Death Grunge Drama Scope (Instrumental)
The Reventlos employ the full range of their styles, contrasting a from whimsical epic play prancery into a sludge metal death grunge drama. For the changes alone, this is a must have.
This version of Link Wray's signature tune is stretched and metered out, magnifying the deliberate nature of the beast. A stunning performance. Ron Wilson is the legendary drummer whose "Wipe Out " patterns became not just obligatory for surf bands, but a rite of passage into almost any band throughout much of the sixties. His fluid drumming is impossible to duplicate. It's nearly liquid. This fine track was recorded at OT Prices in 1984 from the back of my Toyota 4x4 by Marty Preece under my constant nagging. Ron died a few years ago, but his legacy live on.
This moderately paced tune oozes Mexico, with the addition of vibes, it says tropical with piniata flair and castanets percussion. It's a visual, delightful, and melodic picture of a cantina on a lazy afternoon. Good listening.
Emancipate This Water Planet
Dinner SurfMoody (Instrumental)
Very smooth, soft and moody, almost Aqua Velvets like.
This fine new song features delicate plucking interplay between the two guitars, and warm whammy chords. It has an extremely friendly and playful melody line. The whammy makes it very endearing. Fine writing and tight articulate playing.
Swamp Surf (Instrumental)
Ah, yes. This is one mother of a merger between swampabilly and surfadelic fantasy. This version is less piercing than their live version, especially with the organ added, but it has the charm and the mustard greens to make it all work. Chunky, back porch bayou fun.
Psychedelic Surf (Instrumental)
John's blazing psychedelicization of the Chantays' "Pipeline" under it's original name "Liberty's Whip" shows just how fiery the Spores could be. It was captured live in the Pit.
Opening with string swipes a la "Apache," this slow and very cool number spills out reverb like it was wine. Very nice indeed. There's a sense quirkiness, and delicacy, until midway through when high powered surf slaughter takes over. This is definitely the track of choice from this set. Surf guitar veteran Frank Novicki delivered this at the bands performance at Fuel in San Jose at Big Myke Destiny's "Big Guitar Show Live."
The Ultras are simply the most fun surf band anywhere ever. Grins al around and silliness abound. Eric Lenchner aka Professor Sludge aka Ricky Sludge (Readymades) does for golf what Dick Dale did for surf. This remarkably fun tune was recorded during the Ultras last stop in the KFJC Pit.
A few years back, Splashback played on my show for the first time. When they did this tune, it took me almost half way through before I realized what song it was they were covering. It sounded familiar enough sorta, but it was masked so well in their brand of individualization that I didn't recognize it. And I have loved the Surfaris' original for 35 years. While I like the live version from that show better, this is really good. What they've done to the arrangement totally changes the character of the song, and while it misses the original intent completely, it replaces it with a whole new meaning that is equally grand and powerful.
"Undertow" waits for an intellectual wave on a longboard rising and falling as shallow swells roll by. It speaks of the wait for the ninth wave, and the solitude of the union with the sea. The sense of currents under foot is unmistakable. Excellent and dark, yet excited at the prospect of that one great ride. "Undertow" is a big thundering track, written in a trad style melodically, and delivered with a ton of surf soul. This was recorded when the Surf Kings played in Appreciation Hall for us.
Tribal Surf Exotica (Instrumental)
Right from the opening bass line, which simply shimmers with gelatin coolness, "Topple The Moai" sports an endearing riff, a swirling Leslie, and island chants. Moody and fluid, this is as good as it gets. An excellent track.
Fast, sporty, foxy, and quite tame compared to their live renditions. That's not a bad thing, because this song is written well enough to handle different approaches with ease. It's melodic, quirky, and fun. Round smooth tones.
This is a fine melodic chunky infectious track, with dribbling notes, and a definite Spanish feel. When I first heard them play this live, I was awestruck. It is a fine and powerful tune. What an great track. Their best, I think.
"Bo Hits A Floater" is a solo performance by Frank Novicki. It was recorded one night at a Shockwaves rehearsal as he played the song for the first time for the band. As was my practice then, I just rolled the tape to work on my recording skills and to see what I could capture. This is magical and infectious, rhythmic and splashing with reverb.
The Neptunes have played for us at KFJC twice, one in the Pit and once before a live audience in Appreciation Hall. Their fez topped double necked guitar-bass assault is priceless. While both of their performances were wonderful, technical problems on my end prevented capturing the band's sound properly. When they offered up a DAT from their show at Palookaville in Santa Cruz, I was skeptical because sound board tapes are usually marginal at best. With a little post production tweaking, their hot Wedge derivation took on a powerful new life, and so it is here. This is one spicy adaptation of Dick Dale's classic.
Experimental Adventurous Progressive Surf (Instrumental)
As surf reaches into the youth culture, young surf bands are forming. Monster Pete and the Chiefs are high schoolers (at the time of this recording) from the South Bay headed up by Pete Micek, one of most interesting writers and talented players around. When they played for us in Appreciation Hall opening for Get Wet, surf legend Eddie Bertrand (Belairs, Eddie and the Showmen) stopped in his tracks to listen, commenting on the prowess of the lead guitarist. This infectious track has gotten lots of airplay, and this live take shows the infectious chemistry of the band live. Experimental, melodic, adventurous, progressive SURF!
Video Game Surf (Instrumental)
This Austin band is a project of computer game music whizzes who love surf instrumentals. This is a soft spoken fluid surf masterpiece, with a magnetic riff and melting liquidity. "Wing Commander" was recorded live at the C.E.S. (a game conference). It is the title theme from the game of the same name. All skinny rails, their brash name is an inversion of their visual persona. They have many fine instros to their credit, and a fun CD as well. Computer games and surf music, a natural fit.
This became "Krill Slippin'" under Martyn's imaginative titling. Jim wrote lyrics to this once. This light delicate rendition has a deliberate and flowing feel to it, and it still has that drivin' down the road to freedom sensibility.