Don't be a hodad---catch this wave of new and newly reissued vintage surf music! And a book to explain it all to you!
Montana hangs ten with a nice set of mostly well-known surf songs including some Ventures favorites like the Old West-flavored "Apache," the funky spy/surf of "Pipeline" and the surfin'-in-space chestnut "Telstar." The guitarist generally honors the original arrangements, laying on the treble where expected and playing leads elsewhere as sharp as jellyfish stingers. Every once in awhile though Montana hops up the guitar part a little bit, noticeable on some of the fade-outs where it seems like he's about to go all Satriani on the thing. "Nitro" is a fast slice of slappin' rockabilly/surf while "The Lonely Sea" is just the opposite---a surf slow dance---and the many moods of Don't Fear…The Reverb! conjure such a vivid trip to the beach you'll swear you can feel the sand.
Mr. Gasser & the Weirdos
"Bring your chick and make the scene!" That line from "Hot Rod Hootenanny" nicely sums up the carefree attitude that permeates this set of hot rod music---a delightful mélange of surf guitar, greasy sax, girl group background vocals and of course various hot rod sound effects. These sides were originally released by Capitol Records in 1963 when the Weirdos were perceived as, well, weirdos. Some of the songs viewed back then as goofy are now kitschy examples of retro cool, and the Weirdos, with members including Leon Russell, Glen Campbell and drummer Hal Blaine, were far from a bunch of goofballs. How can you not dig songs like "My Coupe Eefen' Talks" and "Termites in My Woody," daddy-o?
Mr. Gasser & the Weirdos
Another batch of tunes about surfin' and racin' with a slightly different line-up of Weirdos; Steve Douglas still powers the band with crazy saxophone honking but how's this for a trio of guitar twangers: Glen Campbell, Billy Strange and James Burton. Includes the instrumental "Hey, Rat Fink," the Halloween-ish "Hearse With a Curse" and probably the coolest song ever written about a cop, "Cherry-Top Charlie." Originally released by Capitol in 1964.
Surf Beat: Rock'n'Roll's Forgotten Revolution
Did you know that exquisite musical weirdo Frank Zappa played in a surf band? That's just one of literally thousands of facts that you'll pick up while reading Surf Beat, Kent Crowley's look at how the beaches of southern California birthed its very own phenomenon that pre-dated the Beatles. Surf music continues to influence lots of modern acts but as the book's full title indicates there was more to it than that and Crowley does a thorough job of detailing the "revolution" while peppering his timeline with comments and anecdotes from those who were there in the early days like Gerald Sanders of the Tornadoes and Don Murray of the Crossfires, the band that would eventually find stardom with a name change to the Turtles. The last chapters of the book brings the scene current through 2007.
Surf's Up! Nelson Montana- Mr. Gasser & the Weirdos and Surf Beat: Rock'n'Roll's Forgotten Revolution