The Lively Ones: Surf City

Third helping of instrumental surf from 1963

By the time this Southern California surf quintet cranked out their third album within a year, the formula – a few singles, a few new tracks, a track list populated almost entirely of covers – was proving durable, though decreasingly exciting. On this outing the band tackles Jan & Dean (“Surf City”), the Tornados (“Telstar”), Santa & Johnny (“Sleepwalk”), Johnny Fortune (“Soul Surfer”) and revisits “Misirlou” and “Surf Rider” from their previous outings. What makes each Lively Ones album interesting are the songs they repurpose from other genres, such as Freddie King’s “Head’s Up” and “Butterscotch.” They even manage to quote the Munsters theme song on the latter tune. As on their previous albums, the band mixes the twang of guitars with the fat saxophone of Joel Willlenbring, creating a hybrid that blends ‘50s instrumentals with ‘60s surf rock. The band is sharp as ever, but the lack of original material starts to make this feel more like a Saturday night covers act than an original surf rock band. There’s stereo sound throughout and the tracks are available as an album of MP3’s or a two-fer (with the band’s fourth album, Surfin’ South of the Border) as a CD. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

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