Posts Tagged ‘Del-Fi’

Ronnie and the Pomona Casuals: Everybody Jerk

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Stomping rock ‘n’ soul from the East Side

Guitarist Ronnie Duran was the eponymous leader of this mid-60s East Side rock ‘n’ soul group, managed by the ubiquitous Billy Cardenas, they were fellow travelers of Cannibal and the Headhunters, the Premiers, Thee Midniters and others. Their one full-length album is deeply indebted to the early Chicago sound of Curtis Mayfield, but also to Bobby Womack, Junior Walker and Major Lance. The soul base is strained through the garage and club sounds of mid-60s East Los Angeles, and powered by the rhythm of “The Jerk.” The bulk of the material is covers, which is what you’d expect to hear on a Saturday night out, but there are a few originals, including the Arthur Lee penned lead off “I Wanna do the Jerk.” This is excellent garage soul, fronted by the strong R&B vocals of Charles Lett, and backed with solid organ, deep baritone saxophone, and foot-stomping bass and drums. It’s hard to believe that music this solid and mature was made by, literally, a group of teenagers. Crank it up as the soundtrack to your next dance party. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

The Lively Ones and The Surf Mariachis: Surfin’ South of the Border

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Fourth LP from SoCal surf combo split with studio hands

The Lively Ones’ fourth album is split with a group of West Coast studio players (including no less than Tom Scott and Billy Strange) recording as The Surf Mariachis. As on all of the Lively Ones’ albums, their sides collect previously released singles and additional covers, drawing in songs from outside the surf genre, such as the Oscar-winning theme “Exodus.” The Surf Mariachis add both Latin and surf flavors to their covers, which also pull from disparate sources, such as Chubby Checker’s “Limbo Rock,” Mongo Herbie Hancock’s (by way of Mongo Santamaria’s) “Watermelon Man” and the theme to Mondo Cane, “More.” It’s all quite fun, though kitschier than the Las Vegas grind/surf of the band’s debut album, recorded just the year before. Unlike the reissues of the band’s three previous albums, this one is all mono; available as an album of MP3’s or a two-fer (with the band’s third album, Surf City) as a CD. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

The Lively Ones: Surf City

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

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]

The Lively Ones: Surf Drums

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Second helping of instrumental surf from 1963

The second album from this Southern California instrumental surf quintet, one of four they released in 1963, isn’t quite as thrilling as their debut, Surf Rider! As on the debut, the band mixed twangy surf guitars with a fat-toned sax that recalled rock instrumentals of the ‘50s. Also as on their debut, this one mixes a few pre-album singles with tracks recorded especially for the long-player, with the song list sticking to covers, including Duane Eddy’s “40 Miles of Bad Road,” the Rockin’ Rebels’ “Wild Weekend,” Arthur Smith’s “Guitar Boogie” (rechristened as “Surfer Boogie”), Link Wray’s “Rumble” and “Rawhide” (the latter rechristened “Surf Drums”), and so on. Tom Fitzpatrick’s drumming isn’t mixed as snappily to the fore as on the debut, and the heavy use of Joel Willenbring’s sax sometimes weighs this more towards ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll and Las Vegas Grind than pure surf. Still, the band is tight, with some great stop-start arrangements and energetic bass lines by Ron Griffith. There’s stereo sound throughout and the tracks are available as an album of MP3’s or a two-fer (with Surf Rider!) as a CD. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

The Lively Ones: Surf Rider!

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Solid instrumental surf from band’s 1963 debut LP

The Lively Ones’ debut album remained their best effort, and a great example of ‘50s instrumentals morphing into ‘60s surf rock. Joel Willenbring supplies the fat-toned sax, and Jim Masoner and Ed Chiaverini the reverbed guitars. The quintet’s first full length pulled together previously released singles – notably the title track’s reworking of the Ventures’ “Spudnik” – with a handful of covers and a few memorable originals. The album opens with Tom Fitzpatrick’s crisp drumming kicking off Dick Dale’s “Surf Beat,” smoothly integrating Willenbring’s growling sax with the low twanging guitars. A take on the classic “Miserlou” hasn’t the manic staccato virtuosity of Dale’s version, but the drums once again cut sharp lines behind the energetic guitars. The more obscure covers are even better: a moody take on the Strangers’ “Caterpillar Crawl” and an upbeat romp through “Walkin’ the Board” each sound like something Thee Swank Bastards would use to get Szandora LaVey’s hula-hoop up to speed. The two originals, “Goofy Foot” and “Happy Gremmie” are quite fine, the latter with a bluesy edge to its combination of surf and Vegas grind. Great sound (stereo except track 2, 4, 5 and 6) – this is a must have for any surfer stomp; available as an album of MP3’s or a two-fer (with their second album, Surf Drums) as a CD. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]