Various Artists: The Birth of Surf Guitar Vol 3 (Ace/Border)

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The Surfaris: Storm Surf
Various Artists: The Birth of Surf Guitar Vol 3 (Ace/Border)

It seems odd that surf guitar rock should be so enduring.

For some it was just a brief phenomenon of the late Fifties/early Sixties but here at Elsewhere we've recently written about surf guitar rock influences (sometimes with a weird spaghetti western spin) in bands out of Israel, Spain, Croatia and of course the USA and New Zealand.

This 26 track collection goes back to origins with twang'n'strum instrumentals between '59 and '66 with a few well-known names in the mix (Dick Dale, the Riptides, the Surfaris and the Avengers).

And it's not all Wipe Out speed because surf guitars lend themselves to late afternoon reverie as the sun sets behind the horizon (Lone Survivor by the Beachcombers, the astral sounding, Spanish-influenced Christina by the Charades band) or broody downbeat moods (The Marauder by Marrell's Marauders out of Wisconsin).

Curiously too, a lot of these bands come from places you wouldn't usually associate with sandy fun-fun-fun-in-sun, like New York.

As always with such collections, if you read the excellent liner notes names appear in these bands who would go on to great fame as artists or producers: Daryl Dragon (Beach Boys), Gary Usher (producer of Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly), Glen Campbell and Bruce Johnson (session work, Beach Boys), Michael Lloyd, Jimmy Greenspoon and Danny Belsky of the New Dimensions went on to form the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and then separately into production (Osmonds, Sinatra) . . .

And among the players on Flaming Guitar by Billy Mure are Tommy Mottola and Al Caiola.

Some borrowed boards here too: riffs and melodies come from Bo Diddley, Dick Dale, Tequila, More Surf by the deFenders is essentially the MOR ballad more given a spray of surf . . .  

Of course all the most famous surf guitar tracks were taken care of on the first volume of this series, but this collection not only proves the depth of and breadth of the genre but also when the tremelo really kicks in, the durability.

Surf music was where many aspiring American guitarists got their start . . . and this collection makes you think that maybe Jimi Hendrix was wrong. 

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Mick - Jan 22, 2016

Thanks for this. Surf guitar is one of my favourite genres of music. Check out the Australian band The Atlantics as well as the Break.

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