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Tom Tobben

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Reply with quote  #1 

Back in the early/mid 1960s, thanks to artists like Dick Dale, Link Wray, the Ventures, the Surfaris, and perhaps also the Beach Boys, surf rock instrumentals quickly became a popular rock sub-genre of their own for a number of years. When we think of the best-known and most played surf rock classics, songs like “Walk Don’t Run” by the Ventures, “Pipeline” by the Chantays, “Misirlou” by Dick Dale (thanks also to its inclusion in the movie Pulp Fiction), “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris, and perhaps a few others immediately come to mind.

This week, we are going to dig deeper and more broadly into the history of surf rock instrumentals and explore other excellent surf rock songs that are not perhaps so well-known internationally, and certainly not in the US, where surf rock became part of the so-called “California myth”.  Here, for your consideration, are four surf rock instrumental songs and artists who, to my recollection and our past artist lists, have never appeared in the past nine years of our weekly BOTBs and which have never charted in the US Billboard Top 40 charts, but whose songs are certainly worthy of merit in the annals of surf rock instrumentals. In doing my research for this week’s battle, I considered a whole bunch of surf rock instrumentals before finally settling on these four nuggets, so I’ll have more songs to add along the way during the week.  

A)      “Bombora” by the Atlantics (1963). This well-known Australian surf rock group had their first #1 hit with this song, which got some international attention but was not a big hit in Europe and North America. This song has been covered by other artists, but it is still little-known in other parts of the world though still widely popular in Australia.

B)      “Kon-Tiki” by the Shadows (1961). Perhaps England’s all-time best pop/rock instrumental group, the Shadows had tons of major hits in the UK over multiple decades and numerous big hits in other parts of the world, but oddly enough, not in North America, without a single Top 40 chart hit in the US or Canada, to my knowledge. Besides becoming well-known for their own hits, they were also Cliff Richards’ backing band for a decade, during his early big hit years from the late 50s to the late 60s. While we in the US and perhaps elsewhere were thinking of the Ventures as the big surf instrumental group with a series of hits, the Shadows were cracking out one big surf rock instrumental hit after another throughout the sixties and beyond. This is one of their popular surf rock instrumental hits that reached #1 in the UK and was also a top ten hit in a number of other countries but is hardly known in the US, and perhaps elsewhere these days.

C)      “High Surf” by Miami Dan & The Hayes Street Band (2018). This contemporary surf rock instrumental is our Beach Boys-connected song this week, featuring original Beach Boys surf guitarist David Marks as guest artist and co-producer. This song, inspired by those early surf rock classics from the 1960s, was co-written by Miami Dan Yoe and band member B. Keith Williams and  released in July of this year on Miami Dan’s fourth album with the Hayes Street Band, titled Left Hand to the Sky.  Some of you here will remember Miami Dan Yoe as an early, long-time member of the Brian Wilson website community when it was literally the “blueboard”. Here’s the official recorded version as our battle song. Further below, I’ve included their video version as a bonus, showing them performing the song in studio with no less than five guitars and other instrumental accompaniment.

D)     “Wedding Cake Island” by Midnight Oil (1980). With the song named after an actual small island off just off the coast of Sydney, Australia, this well-known Australian rock group (e.g., “Beds Are Burning”) wrote and recorded this song, because they also wanted to be known as a surf rock group.  Widely popular in Australia, Midnight Oil had numerous hit albums and singles over multiple decades in Australia and some of them also charted in several other countries.

 

Please give due consideration to each of these less widely known surf rock instrumentals before casting your votes this week. In addition, our Australian and UK participants can likely also provide a good deal of additional background about this week’s well-known battle artists from their countries.

In addition, I’d like to encourage any of you to add other lesser-known or favorite surf rock instrumentals and artists that you’d like to share with the rest of us this week, in order to recall, capture,  and celebrate the entire genre and era of surf rock instrumentals from back in the sixties (or more recently, as in the case of Midnight Oil’s and Miami Dan’s battle songs this week). This is clearly a “theme” that I’d like for us to explore further together and enjoy this week (and perhaps come back to individually in later weeks and months to revisit some favorite or rare surf rock songs) in addition to listening to the four battle songs and evaluating them this week.

Bonus video of “High Surf” featuring Miami Dan & the Hayes Street Band with David Marks in the studio:


For your cut and paste convenience:

“Bombora”, the Atlantics (1963)
“Kon-Tiki”, the Shadows (1961)
“High Surf”, Miami Dan & The Hayes Street Band, featuring David Marks (2018)
“Wedding Cake Island”, Midnight Oil (1980) 

Surf’s up!!!

 

 

 

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Darren J. Ray

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Reply with quote  #2 
Splendid choices, Tom. 

Yo, Cindy! Didn't you go on a 'date' with Miami Dan once? [wink] 
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Al Forsyth

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Reply with quote  #3 
Tom,  It is a genre all to it's own.  I did one of these once or twice and used the BIG heavies, but you are tapping deep and this is good.  At our little Beach Boys'/Brian Wilson get-together group meeting  we were talking Dick Dale for awhile.  He was heavy Chevy in all of this,

Here's a few though for you to dance to:

A compilation:

If this isn't great surf, then I don't know:

Yeah, it's David ^

Interesting - the year span.  Turn up the reverb and hang ten!

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paul g adsett

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Reply with quote  #4 
not that there's any need to, whatsoever,
but, if during the course of this week you get time to dabble in this,
there's a wealth of worthwhile music from a sort of 'loverlooked / lost' group from the 90's,
cotton mather, from austin tx,
'rediscovered' by noel gallagher (but, won't hold that against them).
a powerful rush of powerpop, so unakin to this week's topic,
but with references to so many things you've heard but not heard quite like before.
here's their well applauded by critics (even if years after its recording) album
'kon tiki':
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Larry Franz

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Reply with quote  #5 
The Beach Boys might have gotten gold. Instead:

Gold -- “Bombora”, the Atlantics -- I prefer the old school surf stuff, possibly for nostalgia reasons. I happen to have posted the same video in season 6, week 1. It's dynamic.

Silver -- “Kon-Tiki”, the Shadows -- Even older school.

Bronze -- 
“High Surf”, Miami Dan & The Hayes Street Band -- A newer style. More creative than the Midnight Oil, which is similar.

Pewter -- 
“Wedding Cake Island”, Midnight Oil -- Fine, but not quite there.


Another I posted in season 6 (in Tom's "Four Winds" week) coincidentally by a group called the Bomboras, "Monsoon"
youtube.com/watch?v=3jKDhqGZ6Gk

So what's a "bombora"? From Wikipedia:

Quote:
Bombora is an indigenous Australian term for an area of large sea waves breaking over a shallow area such as a submerged rock shelf, reef or sand bank that is located some distance from the shoreline and beach surf break. In slang, it is also called a bommie.


Thank you, Tom.

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Al Forsyth

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Reply with quote  #6 
Tom,

You've changed my entire outlook on surf, hearing these tunes.  Check this:


VOTES (and these are all close  - VERY close).

Gold - Midnight Oil (see below).
Silver - Danny Yoe and his band.  Yes, he posted here and often!
Bronze - The Atlantics - sounds like old school surf
Tin - The Shadows - get this going in the B section. 

With the Oils, I always thought them as Peter Garrett and his band, BUT the surf is here, underneath.

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Cindy Hood

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Reply with quote  #7 
Tom, I am so excited about this week's contest!  All are very good and it's a tough feat to rate them, but I'll give it my best shot. 

Gold:  Miami Dan and the Hayes Street Band for High Surf.  I have Miami Dan's first 2 CD's and I love them both - all tracks!  I still need to get his newer CD's though.  High Surf is surf music on a more serene level, like a sunny summer Sunday on the beach with your tunes.  Most of his songs give me that kind of vibe.  Love it!

Silver:  Midnight Oil for Wedding Cake Island.  Another like my gold choice - surf music toned down a bit from the manic 60's surf music that was the norm.   Very good!

Bronze:  The Shadows for Kon Tiki.  Kicking it up a little for this 60's style surf song.  Reminds me of the surf movies from that era.  

Tin:  The Atlantics for Bombora.  Great surf tune, I just prefer the other three that aren't quite as fast.  But, what a talent here!

That's it for this week.  Thanks, Tom for winding up summer with these surf tunes!





“Bombora”, the Atlantics (1963)
“Kon-Tiki”, the Shadows (1961)
“High Surf”, Miami Dan & The Hayes Street Band, featuring David Marks (2018)
“Wedding Cake Island”, Midnight Oil (1980) 

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Cindy Hood

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Darren,  Several years ago I became FB friends with Dan and shortly thereafter he was in my area on a job and we met for dinner.  About a year later, he was back in the area again and we got together for dinner then, too.  I had a great time each time we met up.  We talked endlessly about music and mainly, the Beach Boys.  He gave me his newest CD each time and listened to some tracks of his next CD, which were all very good.  I missed him at the 2012 Beach Boys concert in Raleigh, sadly.  The radio station I listen to here in eastern NC should play his music on their Sunday afternoon Carolina Beach Weekend to spiff it up.  I think I'll suggest that to them. 

Darren, you have a memory like a steel trap!   I can't believe you remembered that and all the other stuff such as that guy Mike, with the beard.  LOL!


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Larry Franz

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Reply with quote  #9 
Listening to lots of surf instrumentals in a row can be tiring. I think they're best appreciated when heard more selectively. 

One more from the Bomboras: "Last Call" (1995)
youtube.com/watch?v=vaIjKuAznKY

The internet says R.E.M. used "White Tornado" as filler for their concerts when they didn't have enough material, and that its alternate title was "Generic Surf". Recorded in 1981, released in 1987 as a rarity.
youtube.com/watch?v=Q5RzOxQhakA

Dick Dale -- "Nitro" (1993)
youtube.com/watch?v=drCSirDedzI


The ending of Pulp Fiction, when they walk out of the restaurant in their cheesy t-shirts and "Surf Rider" comes on the soundtrack, was wonderful. The single made it into the Top 30 in Southern California in 1963. It's one of my favorites now.

The Lively Ones -- "Surf Rider" 
youtube.com/watch?v=soH7t6Mal3A

Most of the final scene from Pulp Fiction, including some of the musical accompaniment, which kicks in at 9:01.
youtube.com/watch?v=XNz0R90wG0s

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bonnie bella

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Reply with quote  #10 
Interesting selections, Tom.  I had no Idea Midnight Oil had done anything like this.

Not a lot of surf music from down this way, which could be considered odd as there's enough surf around here to start a surfboard repair shop.  However, here's The Tapemen from 2008, whose band name is self-explanatory when you see the video.



And I had this one in the battle a couple of years ago.  Love it.


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Larry Franz

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Reply with quote  #11 
bonnie -- those are two interesting selections.

One wonders if the Tapemen were inspired by Los Straitjackets, who always appear wearing Mexican wrestling masks. (One also wonders how unpleasant it is to remove all that tape.)

[Los-Straitjackets-on-the-red-carpet-at-the-2007-Grammys-Ceremony] 

Los Straitjackets, "New Siberia" (2012) and "Fury" (1994)
youtube.com/watch?v=LoLF65cKmyY

youtube.com/watch?v=fd7ECFZU8Gw


As for the Bangles, I contend that "bitchen" isn't the preferred spelling. It's "bitchin" (with or without an apostrophe), as in the title of the Orange County, Calif. surf punk group Agent Orange's EP "Bitchin' Summer".

Agent Orange -- "Mr. Moto" (1982) -- originally released in 1961 by the Belairs, some of the originators of surf music
youtube.com/watch?v=wWxOPNOCLdE

The Belairs -- "Squad Car" (circa 1961)
youtube.com/watch?v=bS5lS5hxZd8

Over and out.

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Tom Tobben

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Reply with quote  #12 
Well, we're off to a good start this week with a number of good/interesting lesser-known surf instrumental contributions and comments from Al, Larry, and bonnie, a tangential recommendation from paul, and early voting from Larry, Al, and Cindy.

Early voting has been quite balanced so far, with three different songs getting the three gold votes so far, and no clear consensus winners or losers in the early voting. 

(Where are you with your early votes, Lee Marshall? I hope you're really not stepping away from our weekly battles for a while. Your votes and comments are always interesting, knowledgeable, and often quite insightful or entertainingly irreverent!)

Darren, thanks for the complement on this week's battle mix. I hope a number of others here enjoy it as much.

Al, some good finds with those rarities. I especially liked your early David Marks find from when he had his own group, the Marksmen, in the years shortly after he left the Beach Boys. I'm going to have to try to track down that Marksmen album if it's still available. And that mellow surf instrumental you found, "More Love, More Power" by the Duo Tones, was a real treat. I've already listened to it several times -- a delightful change of pace from the usual fast-paced guitars and pounding drums of many surf instrumentals. (see below for a couple more slower-paced surf rock instrumentals that I enjoy). 

Larry, thanks also for your early votes and, as usual, for the interesting variety of lesser-known surf rock instrumentals that you were able to find and share with us. I liked both of your Bomboras finds, so I had to find out more about them from Wikipedia, learning that they were a 1990s instrumental surf rock band from southern California. Perhaps surf rock never dies in that ageless surf milieu. And I'd never have guessed that early REM even performed a bit of surf rock -- a twist on 80s new "wave", perhaps? And a bit of a deeper dive into Dick Dale's frenetic surf guitar music is always interesting, as was the "Surf Rider" connection to Pulp Fiction. We tend to think of a few classic songs included in the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, but it's filled with lots of good music beyond classics like "Misirlou", "Jungle Boogie", and "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon". 

Thanks also for resurrecting the entertaining Los Straightjackets. When they were first introduced (by you, I believe) in a past battle, I got such a kick out of their wacky guitar music and their eccentric image, almost like a spoof on Kiss with those masked faces. Thanks also for the updated version of "Mr. Moto" and the original version of "Squad Car". 

Cindy, I'm glad that you enjoy this week's battle so much, and thanks for your usual quick-to-decide votes. Your Miami Dan story was interesting to read too. I first met Miami Dan at Brian Wilson's "SMiLE" concert in St. Louis in 2005. Another former active blueboarder (Dave "Dave from Indy" Sherman) and I hosted a pre-concert get-together that brought together some 20-25 Brian Wilson fans from numerous parts of the US. We got to visit with several of Brian's band members, members of the Stockholm Strings & Horns, and some people even got to meet Brian while he was taking a walk in downtown St. Louis before the concert. Danny Yoe was one of those individuals whom I got to know that evening, and I've periodically kept in touch with him ever since. Because of our keeping in touch and our shared appreciation for a number of popular 60s-70s era artists, he asked me to write the liner notes for his group's excellent second album (Star of the Beach) and an album review for his group's delightful current album (Left Hand to the Sky).

For anyone who doesn't know Miami Dan & The Hayes Steet Band's music, it's worth checking out some more of his songs on YouTube (e.g., "Star of the Beach"), or trying out one of his group's four albums released over the past decade or so (A Time in the Spotlight, Star of the Beach, Jericho, and Left Hand to the Sky). Over that time, Miami Dan's songwriting, the quality of the songs and lyrics, and the sophistication of production have continued to keep getting better, and a number of songs have featured notable guest artists. And, to your comment about deserving radio airplay, a few songs from Left Hand to the Sky have already received some airplay and charted on certain regional radio stations.  

paul, I haven't previously heard of the Austin-based group Cotton Mather or their album Kon Tiki, but they sound worth exploring further at some point. 

bonnie, thanks for resurrecting the Bangles' "Bitchen Summer". I do recall your posting that song some time back and enjoyed hearing it again. Another example of a group you'd never think of doing a surf instrumental. And then there's the Tapemen and "Mysterious Island" -- you come up with some of the most interesting and unusual songs to throw into the mix each week. Besides the weekly battles themselves, I always enjoy hearing and learning about additional artists and songs I've not heard before, that you, Al, Larry, and numerous others throw into the weekly mix. Much appreciated!

While I'm here, I might as well throw a few more lesser-known surf rock instrumentals into this week's mix, and picking up on examples provided above by Al and Larry:

A couple more laid back classic surf instrumentals:





And, piggybacking on Larry's Pulp Fiction connection, here's another lesser known surf rock instrumental, "Bustin' Surfboards" by the Tornadoes from 1962, also featured on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack:


Finally, why not one more Dick Dale surf rock instrumental for good measure, with some wailin' sax added to his familiar speed guitar work:


Keep the comments, surf rock instrumentals, and votes coming, everyone!



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John B

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Reply with quote  #13 
okay, I mostly have good feelings about this genre.  Starting at age 17, I believe, I did try to surf, first along Padre Island in Southern Texas, where you can drive your car down near the water, not unlike the Aussie video, but without any houses, hotels, and condos nearby (like always, in California).  Then, later, in California and Hawaii.  Sometimes when out there, I would whistle surf instrumentals, but more often, sing Jan & Dean songs.  These surf instrumentals imply confidence, which I only marginally had.  Last time I tried, a couple of years ago in Hawaii, I was in a group lesson with numerous people, taking turns on a board so big it was like a barn door. 

1.  Midnight Oil  "Wedding Cake Island"  in 1980, the year 'Sail on' by the Commodores won my HS class song.  I voted for 'Now I'm Going to Sniff Some Glue.'  and in the run-off, 'the Rainbow connection.'  This Midnight Oil song is the best of these 4 to me.

2. 'Bombora' by the Atlantics.   Think it has the most authentic surf guitar parts.

3.  'High Surf' by Miami Dan and the ...whatsit?  Hayes Street Band.  (wonder where Hayes Street is?).  Respectable, if a little timid.

4. The Shadows, 'Kon Tiki'.  the least manly.  Maybe their uh asexual sound appealed to their future leader?
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Larry Franz

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Reply with quote  #14 
Surfing in space (decades after "Telstar").


Laika & the Cosmonauts -- "Surfs You Right" (1995)
youtube.com/watch?v=cJwHf4FSNY4

"Disconnected" (2000)
youtube.com/watch?v=3lAr_b0CXWk

"Ny '79" (2004)
youtube.com/watch?v=csL_9fxXCSE


Man or Astro-Man? -- "Rocketship XL-3" (1994) and "Super Rocket Rumble" (1996)
youtube.com/watch?v=ptEwQN4KcHo

youtube.com/watch?v=bmMisr-o4pg

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Lisa G/TS

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Reply with quote  #15 
Gidget posting this week...

GOLD -- The Atlantics, Bombora -- High energy for serious surfing

SILVER -- Miami Dan & The Hayes Street Band, High Surf

BRONZE -- The Shadows, Kon-Tiki -- Too laid back to think surfing. However, good listening while sipping a Mai Tai on the beach.

TIN -- Midnight Oil, Wedding Cake Island


Can't think of any creative alternates now. Thanks, Tom!

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