May 2017

In the spirit of IMS held in Hawaii, this month I will post some surf music.  This style seems to cause confusion, "many people" associate it with the Beach Boys. I am a huge fanboy of Brian Wilson, I just saw his show in May 2017, but Beach Boys have their own sound. Brian Wilson's Pet Sounds tour is going to be all over Europe this summer, but if you stick around Hawaii after IMS 2017 you can catch him on June 15. Maybe he will play the song "Hawaii" (classic video here), but he no longer sings falsetto or plays bass.  That's why he hired a twelve piece band includuing Al Jardine and his son Matt Jardine!

Surf music is all instrumental, and is all about guitars and drums, not tight harmonies. Let's review the classics, and throw in a familiar work that would not ordinarily make the list.

Dick Dale, Miserlou

Dick Dale was born in Quincy Massachusetts in 1937 in Lebanese-American community, moving with his family to El Segundo, California as a senior in high school.  He is truly a guitar hero, the pioneer of surf music. Dale learned to surf, and wanted to create music to express what was going through his head when riding a wave.  Always pushing the limits of reverb and audio amplifiers, Fender himself used to test his amplifiers on Dale, who routinely blew them up.  The collaboration resulted in a 100 watt amp with a fifteen inch speaker, the Fender Showman. Dick Dale still tours and plays incredible guitar, and is both humble and humorous. You need to see him, his next concert is Malibu on June 24.  Nothing against your Pop's Pop, but Dick Dale is the grandfather you wish you had. Miserlou is an Arabic tune of uncertain origin, today, its popularity is no-doubt connected to Quentin Tarantino's opening scene of Pulp Fiction.  Did you know Miserlou has lyrics?  Here is Chubby Checker singing it.

Ventures, Walk Don't Run

When the Ventures cut Walk Don't Run in 1959, he drummer opted out of royalties and played for $25 at the session.  The record went on to sell a million copies.  The Ventures still tour in Japan, there are no language barriers to surf music. The Ventures' Hawaii Five-0 song (1969) is also well known to anyone that is not deaf, but did you know that they made an entire record album by that name? It features lots of great covers, all done as instrumentals.

Munsters theme song

The Munsters was a black and white TV show that ran on CBS from 1964-66.  Hopefully I don't need to point this out, but "munster" is the name of a dozen cities around the world, and a type of cheese. It has a fine cast of characters: Fred Gwynn (Herman Munster) once was president of the Harvard Lampoon.  Al Lewis (Grandpa) ran for governor of New York in 1998 under the Green Party (see video), promising to kick all statehouse thieves into the Atlantic ocean with his size 11 shoe. Yvonne DeCarlo (Lilly Munster) was a paramour of Howard Hughes back in the day when Hughes was defending the Spruce Goose and building a missile plant in Tucson, Arizona.  FBI director and pervert J. Edgar Hoover, being obsessed with Howard Hughes, tapped phones and hotel rooms to spy on the Hughes DeCarlo relationship.

Here's a microwave reference... back in the 1980s, alumina substrates were one inch square.  At some point they were made in a larger format, 3x3.  These were referred to as "Herman" wafers in honor of Herman Munster.  I did not make this up, it's gotta be true: its in our microwave slang dictionary!

You can think this show was stupid (and it was, and so is about everything ever produced for TV) but the theme song has a strong undertone (undertow?) of surf music. It was composed by Jack Marshall. and nominated for a Grammy. Check out the Munster coach, any surfer would be proud to drive it.

Wipeout by the Sufaris

"Wipeout" refers to falling while surfing.  The nervous laughter at the beginning of the track is a reaction to violent accident.   It's a staple of Youtube "fail" videos and the Jackass show, annoying to misophones like myself because both venues exaggerate it for effect.  You just fell off a ladder and broke your leg?  Excuse your coworkers for laughing, they can't help it.  The 1963 song hit #2 on the US pop charts.

Below is a father/daughter team performing Wipeout, in Germany.  If my kids had such talent, maybe I could have had a cushy manager job. Nah.

Pipeline by the Chantays

Brian Carman and Bob Spickard wrote Pipeline when they were seventeen, playing with three other high school buddies from Santa Anna High School.  The original band ranged in age from 13 to 17, Pipeline pretty much defined their life from then on. Brian Carman died in 2015 at the age of 69, but the band lives on. They were the only rock and roll band to ever play on the Lawrence Welk show, check it out below.  They have the moves, especially Bob Marshall playing electric piano. Nobody is actually plugged in but it is a gem of a video. By my calculation, they are all teenagers and the youngest is 14 or 15 years old.



Check out the Unknown Editor's amazing archives when you are looking for a way to screw off for a couple of hours or more!

Fan/hate mail can always be sent to