Either you are new to Surf Music, already one lover of the genre, or even one record collector, some Surf compilations can be one good investment for your money as an induction to approach the genre, deep your knowledge or even do some research about the original records released during that era. ACE Records have been doing a brilliant job with their compilations, achieving a great balance between quite popular songs, reasonable familiar tunes to fans and lovers of the genre and obscure themes and presenting all that with a great sounds and great Cd booklets full of liner notes and information about the songs. Both volumes of Birth of Surf are a great example of what Im saying.
The CDs are structured in some fashion that introduces some influential songs/ artists for the birth of the genre, other themes directly responsible for the spread of the genre popularity and some obscure themes. All this with enough accurate information to fulfill the record collectors deep needs. On Rare West Coast Surf Instrumentals, ACE Records introduce the History of Titan Records a small but quite influential label that was amongst others responsible for the release of some songs such as Caterpillar Crawl by the Strangers, or Paradise Cove by the Surfmen, as long as the Davie Allans first single War Path b/w Beyond Blue on its subsidiary MARC.
The CD presents the singles released by the label of the following bands: The Strangers, the Surfmen, The Storms, The Lancasters, The Playboys, Gary Usher, and Davie Allan.
Starting by the oldest band of the label, the Strangers are probably more one transition band from rocknroll to Surf than an actually Surf band. However, they were one quite influential band that gave us some great songs Rockin Rebel, Caterpillar Crawl, Dance of the Ants and Hill Stomp (although I have my doubts the latter can be considered Surf Music, I would rather call it blues or rocknroll instrumental stomp). Some of these songs were later covered by popular surf like Caterpillar Crawl by the Lively Ones, just to give one example.
Surfmen are a great sax driven surf band with one sax that can remind me of the Champs sometimes and have some great songs such El Toro and Paradise Cove, where for me they are at their best. Personally, I find their ballad Malibu Run very poor and usually jump over that song.
Jody Reynolds The Storms featuring Al Casey on guitar introduce us two great songs before they produce another single for Sundown.
The Lancasters were the name attributed by the label to the band that recorded with Kim Fowley, in London UK, a couple of tunes: Earthshaker and Satans Holidays. Both of them are quite interesting, even though the band never really existed apart from the studio session.
The Playboys have some Surf jazzy tone on their two tunes that its not exactly what Im looking for when I listen to Surf Music, even though the arrangements and the rhythms are quite interesting and is another proof that usually surf musicians tend to think outside the box. As a curiosity, according to the line notes of the Cd booklet, one of the bands members was the son of the actor Jerry Lewis.
Another two compositions that are not exactly my cup of tea are the 2 vocal tracks by Gary Usher, which tend to consider quite poor vocals.
Finally, we arrive to Davie Allan. Always thought Davie Allan is one hell of a surf influenced guitar player, however the fuzz effect on his guitar can put me slightly off at odd times. The two songs War Path and Beyond Blue released by Titan subsidiary MARC were Davie Allans first single on his phase pre-fuzz with one beautiful reverberated guitar sound and its now my favorite Davie Allan single.
In my opinion, this is one great compilation for anyone keen to Surf Music that pretends to achieve a greater knowledge of the genre.