So, I thought I'd revive this thread. I've been slowly absorbing the entire set - it's a LOT of stuff to get through! I've been mostly listening to discs 1 and 4, since that's where most of my favorites are (and my main CD player still won't play disc 2). I thought I'd post my favorite tracks from those two discs, and see how others feel.
I think disc four is the best. There are some amazing tracks that I've had for quite a while now, like The Birds by the Motivations (just sick!), Ali Baba by Dave & the Customs, The Other Side by the Torquays, Pulsebeat by the Buddies, and the legendary Morpheus by the Toads. Outside of those that I already love, here are my new favorites:
Calvin Cool: El Tecolote - this is just so mean and dirty, I find it completely irresistible. Really simple and direct, but oh so effective. When the lead guitarist goes into the super-bendy solo around 1:30, I get shivers. The lead guitar tone has some serious attitude. Love the reverby string raking at the beginning and the end, too. Simply fantastic!
St. John & the Cardinals: The Rise - wow, the crazy groove! The groove! Every time I hear this, I just want to MOVE - and I don't dance! Such a cool melody, too, with the middle part clearly influenced by British invasion. I think this track is completely unique, never heard anything like it. Too cool!
The Mosriters: On the Run - again, what a groove! It's like a combination of the above two tracks, really great bouncy groove topped off with a simple-and-yet-so-effective lead guitar that takes off at 1:30. Love the palm muting throughout, too.
The Dantes: Dragon Walk - this sounds pretty Link Wray-ish to my ears, and the lead guitar has a pretty ugly tone that is simply perfect for this track! Once again, a serious groove (wow, I didn't realize until just now that all these tracks seriously accentuate the groove), and once again a simple melody made quite effective by some fancy licks and picking, a bit countryish influenced - I just LOVE it when the lead guitar plays the descending line at 0:55 and 1:38, completely makes the song!
The Decades: Strange Worlds - a fantastic space-surf track slightly influenced by Out of Limits and Ventures in Space, but it's its own thing, really. A great dark and mysterious vibe, with a nicely tremoloed lead guitar, and smooth drumming full of nice drum rolls. Very nice band interplay and dynamics. This one is really begging to be covered by a modern surf band.
Marlow Stewart & the Illusions: Earthquake - a seriously dark, lo-fi track with a great moody melody. This is not the same song as the Nobles'/Surfaris' one, but it is indeed the Illusions of 'Jezebel' and three-Jazzmasters-without-a-bass-player fame. Here they were backing Marlow Stewart, and had a bass player. Supremely moody and melodic, with a fantastic bridge, just a really well-crafted song.
These six are the very best for me, but I also really dig these:
The Charades Band: Sophia - melodic, moody and exotic, really nice
Jim Head and his Del Rays: Harem Bells - same as above
The Turks: Baja - a pretty different take on this standard, much moodier with a very cool organ
Kenny & the Fiends: The House on Haunted Hill - just a cool track with some great drumming on it, love the voice chorus in the second half, too
The Vistas: No Return - a simple melodic track made a bit more special as it was the b-side of the great Moon Relay
The Telstars: Spaghetti Strap - another song by this band is Topless. It's clear what was on their minds! This is a pleasant, slightly-moody track.
The Vaqueros: Desert Wind - supremely moody and dark, slow and foreboding, with a touch of exotic. Nice.
From disc one, here are my favorites:
The Shan-Tones: Sheba - a beautiful dark and deeply exotic track with great drumming and a very cool organ.
the Vaqueros: Echo - epitome of surf drumming, great rolls, and a fairly mysterious melody, that is harmonized halfway through the verse by the other guitar - very unusual and innovative for the time!
Johnny McCoy & the Buckets: Scrub Bucket - another track with a serious groove! Try to resist dancing when this one starts! An infectious main riff really makes the song take off.
The Ramrods: Night Ride - these guys were definitely paying close attention to the Chantays and the Astronauts! Check out that phenomenal heavily-muted-and-reverbed-low-E-string rhythm part, and the nice electric piano backing. A very cool melody, too, a bit Pipeline-ish, but not too much so.
The Scouts: Mr. Custer Stomp - wow, this is completely wild! The tribal beat and the Indian chanting that keeps coming into the song is utterly unique and SO COOL! Dig also the jive voice mixed in the background, rhythmically belching out 'yeah'! The guitars have a great groove and really make the track move! I love this!
4 of Us: Batman (Freefalling) - just gorgeous, one of the most beautiful and melodic tracks on the entire box set. It sounds quite Ritchie Podolor-ish to my ears, it has his particular melodic touch, with some interesting melodic twists throughout. Simply phenomenal.
The Crescents featuring Chiyo: Pink Dominoes - fronted by a very rare female surf lead guitarist, this track is exploring the R&B side of surf music, with some jazzy turnarounds and chords and truly impressively tight interplay between the instruments. Not terribly substantive, but really excellent for what it is, a bit of groove and a cool I-IV-V riff. Reminds me of some of Jim Messina's stuff, which is high praise, indeed! I think this song was the b-side to the super-cool Devil's Surf.
Disc one also has some already-classic tracks like the Phantoms' XL-3, The Vistas' Moon Relay, the Vibrants' Breeze and I, and DD's Jungle Fever, but I had all those before so I'm not counting them above.
Anyway, what really struck me is how pretty much completely non-cliché the above tracks are. Very creative, very unique, with great musicianship. And yet, I bet the vast majority of surf music fans didn't even know these tracks before this box set made them available. You'd think by now we'd be scraping the absolute bottom of the '60s surf barrel, but here's a treasure-trove of surf tracks that are not too far from the best of the genre, as far as I'm concerned. That's pretty amazing.
So, what are some of your favorites? I'll have to delve more deeply into discs 2 and 3 next....
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Last edited: Apr 04, 2013 13:24:11