Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's Just Around The Corner

Dick Dale & The DelTones

Summer Surf


On his fourth album for Capitol Records, 1964's Summer Surf, Dick Dale seemed to be aiming for a glossier and more elaborate sound, and the production shows the occasional influences of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson, then the reigning titans of West Coast studiocraft. With banks of vocal choruses on several tunes, additional percussion fancying up the arrangements, and no fear of horns and keyboards, Summer Surf was the most polished Dick Dale set to date, and on tunes like the Spanish guitar exercise "Spanish Kiss" and the Hebrew-flavored "The Star (Of David)," Dale's ambitions paid off -- although not exactly rock & roll, they are compelling and absorbing instrumentals that find the guitarist expanding his boundaries. Similarly, "Banzai Washout" marries Dale's trademark guitar attack to a big studio band, and this time the concept works like a charm. However, for every successful experiment on Summer Surf, there are some severe miscalculations, such as the groan-inducing novelty tune "Mama's Gone Surfin'," the curious gospel-influenced "Glory Wave," and Dale's wobbly trumpet-led cover of "Never on Sunday." (Just as significantly, these three songs make little if any room for Dale's guitar work.) And many of the other tracks are simply dull, hardly disastrous but not much to write home about, either. Summer Surf proved to be Dale's last studio album for Capitol, and since then he's preferred to work with independent labels where he's allowed to follow his own muse on his own terms, a lesson that seems especially valuable after listening to this album.

1 Summer Surf
2 Feel So Good
3 Surfin'
4 Spanish Kiss Dale
5 The Star (Of David)
6 Banzai Washout
7 Glory Wave
8 Surfin' Rebel
9 Never on Sunday
10 Mama's Gone Surfin'
11 Tidal Wave
12 Thunder Wave