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Let's go Trippin',
This review is from: King Of The Surf Guitar (Audio CD)Like many of us oldies I suspect I wasn't really that aware of surf music for the brief period when it flowered in the US and my appreciation wasn't triggered until Taranatino put surf on the map for a much wider audience in the early nineties. At the time, I only really associated surf music with Chuck Berry pastiches from the Beach Boys - sorry BB's, your really good records came later. Also at the time we had the Shadows to keep us ticking along in the UK - we mainly looked to the US for the Ventures - and the actual surf explosion on our own beaches was yet to take place - trust me on that, I was brought up in Newquay!
But Pulp Fiction changed everything and I did find my long latent love for surf coming to the fore. I even managed to see this great man live in the UK and he was quite something. Dick Dale was different from the other surfies. All the rest were bands of, presumably, spotty youths, Dale already seemed to be a man. More of the Duane Eddy generation but even tougher. Surf music, particularly from Dick, didn't really do the quiet ones that Duane would occasionally perform, it was all straight ahead instrumental rock, sometimes just guitar bass and drums. Other times with a roaring sax- again not unlike Duane (though less of a parody of rock sax as sometimes was the case with Duane records).
Enough of comparisons. What about the music herein? It's all pretty straight ahead rock. Track 1 "Let's go trippin'" sets the pace with an in-your-face twelve bar jumper with some R&B feel creeping in. On Track 2 he unleashes an even more fierce guitar. And track 3 is is the great "Miserlou", the one for which he'll be recorded his rightful place in the history of rock'n'roll. He really loved the odd middle eastern sounding item like this - checkout also "Have Nagila", a number that was also loved by UK beat groups at that time, and also "Banzai Washout", a stormer. There's also the other popular instro "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky".
We do get some vocal touches but they don't distract from the main thrust. "Mr Peppermint Man" is a slow, ominous, almost threatening song - the otherwise excellent Notes don't tell me who the singer is.
The far greater appreciation of the US public for surf music is evidenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan joining in with our hero on a very nice version of "Pipeline" which closes the album in style. I've always found it interesting that US reviewers often find touches of surf music in the background of current groups. It does seem much more part of the musical heritage across the pond.
I confess that my appreciation of Dick didn't take me digging into his albums - I contented myself with this best-of (though also looked into his new stuff) but I think it entirely likely that he was really a singles man, in which case, a best-of is invariably a good buy. This one certainly is.