Beach Party: Garpax Surf 'N' Drag

Various Artists

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

Beach Party: Garpax Surf 'N' Drag Review

by Richie Unterberger

The long and colorful career of producer/songwriter/musician Gary Paxton encompassed several different styles. In the early '60s he, like numerous other young southern Californians making their way into the infant rock business, did a lot of surf and hot rod music. This CD collects 26 such 1961-1965 productions with which Paxton was involved from numerous obscure releases, unearthing eight previously unreleased tracks as well. Though it might be of archival interest to surf/hot rod collectors, there's nothing on here that would find its way onto an anthology of the best music in those styles, or even anthologies of the best rare music in those styles. Certainly Paxton and the artists (not a one of them well known to the public, unless you include Paxton himself) gave lots of current trends a shot, sometimes to the point not only of imitation, but also to the point where it almost ceased to be surf or hot rod music at all. The Surf Bunnies' "Summertime Is Surfin' Time" could be an early-'60s Marvelettes-type number that happens to have surf lyrics, for instance; Paxton's own "Two Hump Dual Bump Camel Named Robert E. Lee" is a bad novelty with a blatant debt to Ray Stevens' "Ahab, the Arab"; and Lord Douglas Byron's "Big Bad Ho Dad" plagiarizes a hit record Paxton himself had helped create, "Alley Oop." Admittedly those cuts aren't entirely typical of this compilation, which has a good number of yeoman-style instrumentals and vocal numbers of the type that filled out the numerous quickie surf and hot rod comps of the period. Once in a while something comes along that's better than forgettable filler, like Kenny & the Sultans' haunting instro "The Wipe Out" (no relation to the Surfaris' classic "Wipe Out"). But then again, other cuts are obvious, inferior copies of the groups that were truly setting the pace -- the Captivations' "Red Hot Scrambler -- Go!" is a takeoff on the Beach Boys' "409," while the Zip Codes' "Dear Henry Ford" is very much in the Four Freshmen harmony approach the Beach Boys used in some of their early ballads.

blue highlight denotes track pick