Various Artists

Rare Surf, Vol. 2: South Bay Bands

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More music from Los Angeles's South Bay area, cut between 1962 and 1964 and Paul Johnson's own studio, and this time there's a future star guitar virtuoso in this mix of track, 90% of which are previously unissued. The Nocturnes were a multi-faceted band whose sounds drew from surf, garage-rock, sci-fi films, Latino, and sound effects records -- picture a rock & roll band with room for a mariachi horn section and an organ, transforming itself into a Tornadoes-style guitar-and-FX outfit, and that's the level of flexibility on their songs. Funny thing is, it all holds together, too -- their tracks are lively and always interesting. Wheely McSidewalk & The Ball Bearings was a pseudonym for a trio of guitar instrumentals cut in a sort of in-studio duel between some rival axemen, including a mid-teens Larry Carlton. This is real serious stuff despite the obvious jokiness of the name, hot guitar workouts for the period between guys who could play circles around the competition. The Revelairs, featured on eight cuts, had two separate guitar sounds, the biting leads by Frank Simplicito and the crunchy rhythm parts by Mark Stotesbury, who was so strong that the band avoided getting a bass player for years, relying on his solo rhythm guitar. These guys eventually ended up turning pro as sessionmen and playing background music on MGM-produced shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Then Came Bronson. The Vibrants, represented on six tracks, opened for acts like the Beach Boys and the Journeymen (see Vol. 1) and sounded uncannily like the early Ventures, all lean guitars (they added a sax later, but even on these tracks it's pushed into the background). They had a genuinely aggressive attack, even on their more relaxed numbers, and listening to an instrumental like "Scorpion" is a lot like riding the surf, much as "Zorchy" evokes the surf and beach scene of the era. These boys should have been doing soundtrack music. The audio quality, incidentally, is impeccable, and the notes are extraordinary in their detail and the obvious joy in this music that they express.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:57
2
3:01
3
2:18
4 2:31
5 2:00
6 1:30
7 2:38
8 3:09
9 2:36
10
2:17
11
2:13
12
2:19
13
2:02
14 1:56
15 2:06
16 2:48
17
2:11
18 2:49
19 2:30
20
2:03
21
2:49
22 1:42
23 2:24
24
2:14
25 2:20
26
2:36
27 2:14
28 2:28
blue highlight denotes track pick