The Centurions

Surfers' Pajama Party

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Modern listeners and cinephiles alike will undoubtedly recognize the Centurions' (aka Centurians) dark and brooding "Bullwinkle, Pt. 2," since it was prominently featured in the 1994 film Pulp Fiction, or perhaps recall "Intoxica" from John Waters' 1974 indie epic, Pink Flamingos. Even though they only had one long-player released, a presumed error in the printing stage of the album jacket yielded a cover that bore the image and catalog number found on Bruce Johnston's 1962 Surfers' Pajama Party. This led to the erroneous assumption that (among other things) the Centurions were actually Johnston's band. In reality, they hailed from just south of Los Angeles in the Costa Mesa/Newport Beach region, and featured the personnel of Dennis Rose (guitar, bass), Ernie Furrow (guitar, bass), Ken Robison (sax, flute, clarinet), Joe Dominic (drums), Jeff Lear (bass), Pat Gaguebin (sax, harmonica), Jerry Dicks (keyboards), and occasionally Dennis Kiklas (vocals). During one of their earliest recording sessions, held at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, producer extraordinaire Phil Spector snagged them for several cuts on Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans' Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah (1961). The dozen sides on Surfers' Pajama Party consist primarily of familiar selections that were concurrently being played by any one of the numerous central and southern California surf combos of the day. However, the Centurions' formidable chops resulted in a very distinct sound rooted in a heavy high end on the bass guitar leads. This effect permeates the aggressive "Surfin' at Mazatland" and a remake of the Sentinals' "Latin'ia," as well as "Vesuvius" and "Tuff Soul." Even more menacing is the dark and foreboding tone heard on "Comanche," "Church Key," and "Body Surfin'." When the same selections were reissued on CD in the mid-'90s, Del-Fi adopted the name of their most famous tune, Bullwinkle, Pt. 2, for the title. [In 2004, Collectors' Choice Music included the platter as part of their revamping of the Del-Fi catalog.]

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