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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Music Reviews »

Permalink Album Review: The Surf Dawgs Play the Beatles

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Beatles Music Freshened by The Surf Dawgs.

track listing: Please Please Me, I Saw Her Standing There, All My Loving, Till There was You, Things We Said Today, A Hard Day's Night, Can't Buy Me Love, This Boy, Day Tripper, Nowhere Man, Help!, Ticket to Ride, Eight Days a Week, I Feel Fine, Hello Goodbye, In My Life, Paperback Writer, Eleanor Rigby, Across the Universe. Available from Amazon.

"The Surf Dawgs Play the Beatles" was released in 2021, shown on their website as their ninth CD album. All their albums are instrumental, excepting occasional background vocals. This CD comes in a DigiPak and has nineteen tracks, all studio recordings, from 2:00 to 3:58 in duration (total 54:20). British themes dominate the album art, with London views on front and back. Nearly all songs were individual hits. They range from very early Beatles (Please Please Me, All My Loving, I Saw Her Standing There") to middle Beatles (Paperback Writer, Eleanor Rigby, Nowhere Man); most antedate Sergeant Pepper.

The band performs live in the Minneapolis area. Zip Caplan, the principal lead guitarist, often uses what appears to be a moderate chorus effect with little if any other effects, producing a distinctive mellow chimey surf tone. Most of the band's albums are focused on surf classics or Ventures' songs, and Zip performs these with a style similar to Nokie but not identical.

I've listened to this album repeatedly, and each time I feel as if I am listening to the Beatles despite the absence of vocals. This is probably from my strong familiarity of the songs and evocation of the Beatles' voices by association, but the arrangements seem similar. As instrumentals these recordings evade the distraction that vocal covers generate by baiting comparisons to Beatles' vocals. I look forward to hearing the album again but there are no songs I would pick out to either repeat or skip.

The tones are consistently both pleasant and energetic, a balance that requires expertise. Likewise, the band finesses full guitar tones without distortion, high reverb, delay effect or noticeable overdrive. Lead guitar tones vary widely, with the chorus-effect lead tone making frequent appearances.

Listening with headphones revealed the usual presence of two rhythm guitars, a melody guitar, and another guitar playing either melody or supportive riffs. Occasionally an organ appears. In some songs the melody guitar repeatedly changes spatial location and some guitars appear for only a phrase then disappear. These changes provide variety.

The instruments are clearly defined, and sound volumes are consistent within songs and between them. Melodies are interpreted with enthusiasm, and sometimes embellishments briefly vary from Beatle style. Rhythm guitars are prominent and support the melody guitar without obscuring it. Bernie Bomberg is the band's principal rhythm guitarist.

The melodies are rightfully famous. Beatles' songs are intensely original and melodic, and more complex than most popular music. The Beatles' own renditions are so familiar that I no longer react to them. These recordings are different enough from the Beatles that I enjoy the songs again.

Most of the songs are upbeat and energizing, and can propel activity. Of course the Beatles were not a surf band, and this music is not drip-splashing, but still it is within the range of modern surf.

So are The Surf Dawgs other albums. Several are on Hoopla, the public library multimedia website. On these I found the band's approach to traditional surf guitar and Ventures repertoire fun to hear and distinctive.


The Insanitizers!

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