Dick Dale

Better Shred Than Dead: The Dick Dale Anthology

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The big picture on Dick Dale -- the inventor of surf music, the Godfather of Loud, precursor of heavy metal, the first high-energy power guitarist (all titles being proffered from the man himself to describe his contributions) -- gets told in a real fine way on this two-disc, 39-track anthology. Although single-disc best-ofs exist, this is the first one to cross-license from various labels. Dale started as a vocalist who just happened to be able to furnish his own guitar solos, and it's here that the compilation starts. But by track four on the first disc, "Let's Go Trippin'," the Dick Dale story begins in earnest. The sopping-wet surf sound hadn't been invented yet, but the staccato picking, heavy twang, and hard attack were already in place. The outboard Fender reverb tank that became part of Dale's signature found its first workout on "Miserlou" (although Dale claims otherwise), and what followed was the beginning of surf music, pure and simple. Most of the groundbreaking recordings were featured on Dale's debut disc, Surfer's Choice, hands down the surf album that started it all. From this classic comes "Shake-N-Stomp," "Take It Off," and the one that made him a California legend, "Surf Beat." The rest of the first disc carries you through his later Capitol recordings while the second starts with the second half of Dale's career in 1983 with live tracks from his The Tigers Loose album and steers you through duets with Stevie Ray Vaughan, tributes to Hendrix, and best of all, documenting his own resurrection in the '90s, totally viable and still his own man. Transfers sound a bit buzzier in an over-EQ'd way on some of the early tracks, but overall, this is one really great tribute to an original pioneer.

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