Dick Dale: At the Drags

Super-stocked anthology of Dick Dale’s car-related tunes

There are many anthologies, greatest hits collections and album reissues of Dick Dale’s material, but none have done the service of separately collecting his surf and hot-rod oriented tracks into parallel volumes. RockBeat’s issue of King of the Surf Guitar (not to be confused with his 1963 album of the same name) and At the Drags does just that, offering a generous twenty themed tracks each. The dragstrip volume documents Dale’s temporary turn from surf to cars, following in the trend of numerous Southern California acts of the time. The collection is drawn primarily from Dale’s two car-related albums, 1963’s Checkered Flag and 1964’s Mr. Eliminator, and adds the single “Wild Wild Mustang.” Musically this isn’t much different from Dale’s surf catalog, employing his trademark reverb-heavy staccato guitar picking, and backed by members of the Del-Tones, Superstocks and Los Angeles studio hotshots, including Bill Barber, Glen Campbell, Steve Douglas, Plas Johnson, and Hal Blaine. The single “Night Rider” could just as easily be a surf tune in both music and title. A few tracks add sound affects and Dale adds vocals to more than a half-dozen others, adding a Freddy Canon-styled energy to “Hot Rod Racer,” a Jan & Dean treatment of “Big Black Cad,” and rocking a Bo Diddley beat on “50 Miles to Go.” The masters are super-wide stereo, with only tracks 7 and 8 in mono or very narrow stereo. Rock Beat’s tri-fold slip case includes four full panels of liner notes and an eight-page booklet that adds four more pages of song notes (by Alan Taylor and Dave Burke of Pipeline magazine) and a page of musician and production credits. [©2012 Hyperbolium]

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