The Surfaris: Hit City '64 / Fun City, USA (BGO Records, UK, 2005)
(Originally posted on Surf Guitar 101 on February 7, 2006)
Though I already have pretty much everything by the Surfaris on their three previously released CDs, I decided to pick up this new two-fer reissue anyway, and I'm glad I did. These guys don't get much respect and don't have many champions (Satan's Pilgrims are among the very few). And for sure, they're no Eddie & the Showmen or the Lively Ones or the Astronauts, etc. But they were a good surf band that did a LOT more than Wipe Out, and all surf music fans should check them out. These two albums (their 3rd and 4th – or if you don't count their first one which was actually performed by the Challengers, their 2nd and 3rd) have a lot of great stuff on them. About half of each is vocals, mostly in the Gary Usher/Beach Boys style (with session musicians backing up drummer Ron Wilson's vocals) – and none of them quite as good as the Beach Boys, though overall not too bad. The highlights here are Wax, Board and Woodie, I Wanna Take a Trip To The Islands and Hot Rod High. (Gary Usher actually produced the first of these two albums.) There are also some garage-y vocals, with mixed results (the bad: Louie Louie, Hound Dog; the good: Go Go Go For Louie's Place). Among the instrumentals there are some covers, some of which really aren't very good (Shazam, Comin' Home Baby, Scratch) and some of which are so good that you can say the band actually made them their own (Murphy The Surfie, Hiawatha, Earthquake). The best stuff by far on this CD is the handful of the Surfaris' originals: Scatter Shield (awesome!), Dune Buggy (really cool), Big Surge, Burnin' Rubber, and Hot Rod Graveyard. This British release is part of a complete Surfaris reissue series, with two other CDs compiling the first two albums and their two seventies releases. This one comes with original sleeve notes as well as detailed and interesting liner notes by Dave Peckett of New Gandy Dancer zine, who is probably the biggest champion of the Surfaris out there. Anyway, this is a class reissue all the way and I give it a big thumbs up and highly recommend it.