Ace seem to dominate the market in pre-Beatle rock and roll and 'The Birth of Surf' shows their expertise. Carefully selected, these tracks are all from different bands, are presented in chronological order, and are accompanied by detailed track notes and plenty of photos. Surf is one of those odd genres that grows alongside mainstream pop and came at a time when the first flush of rock and roll had been flattened by a watered down version. Sometimes featuring three guitars or two basses and usually a sax or two, these bands are partly characterised by often being six or seven strong.
The title 'Birth of Surf' hints that 'surf' is an arbitrary tag, a suitable analogy nevertheless for a thrilling ride through what is basically rock instrumental music. Whereas The Shadows were supreme technicians with a stack of great melodies, these bands tended to sacrifice precision in favour of all-out assault. Even so, there are some beautifully-crafted tracks alongside the manic ones.
The first few tracks were probably recorded before the surf label existed. Significantly, they are mostly by artists who enjoyed mainstream hit success: Duane Eddy, Johnny & The Hurricanes, The Fireballs, The Ventures and Link Wray. Their influence on what followed is however clear. The obvious selections are all here too: 'Wipe Out', 'Pipeline' and the legendary Dick Dale's best-known track. Two further tracks that were resurrected for 'Pulp Fiction' are also included, but The Centurions and The Revels are not represented.
At first listen, many of the tracks sound much the same but on later hearing are nearly all are distinguished by something a little different. The Astronauts' percussive 'Baja' is especially impressive as is the helter skelter tempo whipped up by Eddie & The Showmen on 'Squad Car'. The latter band, incidentally, featured Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, later the brains behind The Turtles, on saxes. The album finishes with 'Surf Creature' a slow, spooky ramble years ahead of psychedelia.
I've played this album so much that I've begun to look for albums by the artists featured. I was surprised to find that at least half of them have been subjected to CD reissues or compilations. 'The Birth of Surf' is a collection of infectious and often imaginative music.
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This is very upbeat and a lot of fun. Short songs, the type of music you could probably get away with playing at a family event or perfect for a car journey. It has made me delve deeper into the era, as a long time music lover you can't go wrong, well worth every penny!
For some reason Surf had passed me by until I heard Dick Dale playing miserlou on Later With Joolz which blew me away. Genius. I'd recommend this album to newcomers of Surf and those in the know who would still love this cross section of the incredible talent involved in this phenomenon.
I've always liked the surf rock style but never really knew any particular bands so this is a perfect complication of good tracks to listen to. You can then pick any favourites out and look up the rest of their songs.
Anyone who enjoys guitar based music would appreciate this collection of songs! From the more well known tracks like Dick Dale & the Deltones 'Miserlou' (featured on Pulp Fiction' and Wipeout by the Surfaris to more obscure ones. One of my favourites is 'Squad Car' by Eddie & The Showmen :)
I always dismissed Surf music as a relic of days gone by and would only be appreciated by people older than me, but if you love rock and roll or play guitar yourself you'll love this
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As with all compilation albums, there are some super driving, rocking star tracks and some dross, but with 170 of them, you can't be robbed at the low, low price. This has introduced me to some new (old) artists, but also provided a reminder that even successful artists like the Beach Boys have produced some duffers. This is a well mastered album with good and consistent volume, giving clear reproduction. So, lets all Dance With The Surfin' Band - (Hal Blaine & The Young Cougars). Excellent.