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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Best-Of SG101 »

Permalink Most overrated "classic"?

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1138 wrote:

For me personally, I respect all surf tunes for what they are. They are a product of their time period, which I really wish I could have been old enough to have been a part of. I don't really hate any of them, though I definitely like some a lot more than others.

What I don't care for is how radio, movies, and TV have always treated surf - it's like they only know the most well-known of the well-known songs and they use them to invoke a certain "theme" or "feeling" in a scene, etc. So people only associate with those particular songs and unless they are really interested in delving deeper into the genre, they probably think all surf sounds just like "Miserlou", "Wipeout", etc.

It's kind of funny that when I refer to surf guitar music in conversation with non-musicians that I know, they have no idea what I am even talking about...until I say "Ever see Pulp Fiction?"...then boing! The light bulb goes on.

Oh and by the way...I know "Surfin Bird" is completely stupid, but that's exactly why I like it. Big Grin

I know this is an old thread, but I feel that I have to add my two cent’s worth.

That’s a great observation. Pop music has always been rife with fads and people trying to sell whatever seemed hot at the moment. Songs that make sense in a certain time period don’t necessarily have anywhere near the same impact at some other point in time. Top 40 has always been about the flavor of the month and youth tend to be tuned into what is or is not cool at the moment. There was no need for Bach or Mozart levels of compositional skill; capturing the moment is what mattered most

In many ways, I think much of what I read comes down to what is overplayed. I love Secret Agent Man, but for many audiences, this has long since worn out its welcome. When Pulp Fiction came out, Surf Rider was all but forgotten and people were ready to welcome Surf music back into the mainstream when they heard it in the movie. The fact that Surf has remained at least somewhat viable in the years since is what I find the most amazing, and heartening. I would credit that to the Internet as a way for people with common interests to communicate.

The Astronauts, the Chantays, the Bel Airs and many others provided the foundation and no structure can be better than its foundation. Some of the newer Surf, built upon that very foundation, is excellent, some of it is not. When I think of some of the truly great Surf written in modern time I am quite impressed, but that is not the same sort of thing as a bunch of teens capturing the moment 55 + years ago and showing us the way.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.

The Bird is the word ! Cool

Yeah Surf is so old now you could probably get gigs at nursing homes along with all the Elvis impersonators (Thank you, thank you very much).

Actually Surf had a good run from 1962 to 1966. Most music trends last only about 4 years anyway (look at all the different styles on the charts over the years.) So Surf lasted as long as any other Rock style, if not longer in some ways, but never achieved again the 1963 level chart wise. But even then was only really a few songs in the USA nation wide at its peak wave. Pulp Fiction in 1994 I think had more to do with many bands forming than public awareness it seems like to me.

Surf literally re-emerges every now and then. It totally blew out by 1967 and came back a little when The Beach Boys hit with the Endless Summer compilation album in 1973. They also hit big with new music with the
"15 Big Ones" album in 1976. That's why I think people associate with what we call Surf music (meaning instrumental)with The Beach Boys by the public at large because of all their chart success in the mid 70's and beyond. Many other minor hits with other compilation Surf albums for Summer sales over the years as well in a small way kept the genre alive too.

I think the pioneer bands in Surf had a good foundation as well. They either had music teachers in school or music shops and other kids at school and the neighborhood or all the above. Lots of Duane Eddy records were wore out and many 50's type rock etc, much of which goes back twenty years before that in the 1930's and 1940's as far as riffs go etc. One band that really was a model for early Surf bands was The Fireballs, many songs they had were covered by early Surf bands, they were Surf before Tank reverb came out. Most kids started playing guitar when they were about 13 years old, so by the time they were out playing most had been guitar slingers for 5 to 10 years. Enough time to pick up some skills/

I think most Classic Instrumental Surf songs are very well crafted songs. Yes they heavily borrowed a lot of Country and Western (called Rockabilly now) and Blues type riffs, Middle eastern and Spanish scales and a few Big Band swing era influences as well(mostly vamps)etc, but they are primarily original sounding variations of older music using tank reverb. And even if they were not original variations they would have sounded different or not recognized being Tank Reverb makes them sound so different (Just turn off the reverb and listen to Pipeline. It will sound more like Guitar Boogie without it. Trade in the Telecaster for a Jaguar played through Tank reverb and were surfing.

TV had a big impact on kids by the early 1960's, many shows featured guitars in product placement like Lawrence Welk and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, when Ricky Nelson started making records and featured on that show and a host of other TV programs during the late 1950's. Kids wanted guitars much like kids want I-pods now. Rock n Roll really started in a big way in about 1957 when the teen movie Black Board Jungle came out. Rock Around The Clock recorded in 1954 was featured at the end of the movie credits and became a hit song. It was created out of two Country and Western songs Bill Halley's original Country band had. The main riff goes way back used during line dancing etc. Many Surf songs have a variation or that riff in them.

As far as over used Classics, try to top Walk Don't Run, Pipeline, Penetration or Shockwave and a host of other 1960's Surf. And where would we be today without Wipeout or Let's Go Trippin'. No such thing as over used with these songs. I do hear many modern day tunes based on these songs as far as scales go, so these type songs are still being used as a grid of sorts for new material, just like the classics were made from material long before the 60's Surf scene. You could say we are continuing the music transition, the same riffs used in a different way. But isn't that what was always done? To write new Surf I feel you need to know all the old material first, start there. Most new music is just variations of the old in reality anyway, always was.

Last edited: Oct 31, 2019 21:24:25

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