Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Billy Strange & The Challengers

Here's a rather sedate album given the players. The Challengers: one of the leading surf bands of the 1960's, with their 1962 album Surfbeat being the biggest selling surf album of all time. Billy Strange: who started out as an early pioneer of rockabilly, and moved into session guitar work in the 60's. Strange was also a member of the "Wrecking Crew", performing for The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean, The Monkees and numerous other pop bands in the studio. He also worked as an arranger for Nancy Sinatra, was a songwriter and collaborator for Elvis, Played anonymous lead guitar for The Ventures, and released numerous solo albums in the 60's such as this one.

This 1967 album is varied, but the orchestration is dated and lacks the guitar power one would expect from so many notables. There are a few numbers that rock, but I guess this album was a little too long after the peak of surf music for it to have the same kind of feel. A lot of people describe the Challenger's as sellouts, Dominic Priore saying they became "an easy-listening version of surf music, like wallpaper." Listening to albums like this, it's hard to argue with him, but there are still some charming elements, namely Strange's guitar playing, so I'm putting it up here.

Side 1:
01 - Work Song
02 - Somewhere My Love
03 - What If It Should Rain
04 - Love Is
05 - Bitter Taste Of Love
06 - Milord

Side 2:
07 - Can I Trust You
08 - Strangers In The Night
09 - Cast Your Fate To The Wind
10 - Stranger On The Shore
11 - Pretty Flamingo
12 - Solé Solé Solé

Monday, April 16, 2007

Steve Douglas - Popeye Twist & Stomp

This record comes from Crown, one of many junk record labels of the 60's: cheaply produced music and records sold for under a buck. Besides the work of B.B. King, the highlight of Crown's catalog are two rock records made by Steve Douglas and the Rebel Rousers, Duane Eddy's backing band. This 1962 album is one of those records. The record is essentially a novelty dance record, capitalizing on the Twist and The Popeye, and also making reference to the rising surf culture of southern California.

Douglas, his sax a prominent fixture of Eddy's popular instrumentals of the late 50's, went on to become one of the premier session players in LA. Another member of the "Wrecking Crew", his sax was a prominent feature of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson productions. Along with other sax players like Plas Johnson and Jay Migliori, he was a defining element on many pop records of the 1960's.

Douglas was interviewed one last time by Dominic Priore before his death in 1992, featured in the aforementioned Dumb Angel #4 (Highly Recommended reading, BTW). Douglas talks about making the two albums for Crown (This Popeye album and another instrumental LP Doin' The Twist), and getting payed around $200 for the two of them. He also mentions embarrassment about the vocals, which he performed on this album. Crown Records typically have poor sound quality, but I don't think this came out too bad.

Side 1:
01 - They Did The Popeye
02 - If You're Ever In Doubt About Me
03 - I Never Felt Like This
04 - Surfer's Twist
05 - I Can't Believe It's True

Side 2:
06 - Twistin' Round The Mountain
07 - Popeye The Twistin' Man
08 - Mashed Potatoes
09 - Clap Your Hands
10 - Baby You Just Wait And See

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Sandals - The Endless Summer Soundtrack

Here's the original soundtrack to Bruce Brown's 1964 documentary "The Endless Summer". Though it isn't exactly the pinnacle of surf guitar, there's a lot of interesting stuff on here, particularly the use of the clavietta and the unique sound collages that were a fixture of this era. As for specific songs, the "Theme from 'The Endless Summer'" is a classic, and I can't listen to "6-Pak" without having a grin on my face. "Lonely Road" is used very effectively in the movie for scenes of travelling, and it's hard to listen to most of this music without getting images from the film. This isn't all of the music from the film, as some material was left off the LP for time, and other orchestral/exotica type music in the film wasn't performed by the Sandals at all.

I stressed the word original because there's a rerecorded version out there by The Sandals that doesn't even come close to this original LP. It's a shame that the catalog of the soundtracks to Bruce Brown's films are so shoddily available to the general public. Though all of them were released on the Pacific Jazz/World Pacific label, since that label has become defunct the music has been lost, despite it's indellable connection to these films. Bud Shank's work is only available commercially in an OOP limited edition, very expensive Mosaic box set, again making me pose the question, why must good music be kept exclusive or limited? I guess that's what blogs like this are for.

Side 1:
01 - Scrambler
02 - 6-Pak
03 - Driftin'
04 - Theme From "The Endless Summer"
05 - Good Greeves
06 - Decoy

Side 2:
07 - Out Front
08 - Wild As The Sea
09 - Trailing
10 - Jet Black
11 - Lonely Road
12 - TR-6

Thursday, April 12, 2007

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

Gah! I'm sorry I let this place turn into a veritable hell hole of internet marketing. I've removed all that bullshit and I'll be posting some new stuff very soon, but with probably less regularity than last summer. Part of the reason I was away for so long was school, which has been hectic the past quarter or two, and also accessing my blogger account on my new computer, which I finally managed to the other day. Anyways, I'm finishing up with school, and I hope I can post some new stuff with a certain regularity.