The Sentinals

Big Surf!/Surfer Girl

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Both of the Sentinals' Del-Fi long-players are packaged together onto the aptly titled 2004 anthology Big Surf!/Surfer Girl from Collectors' Choice Music. However, enthusiasts owning Del-Fi's Sunset Beach: The Best of the Sentinals CD from 1999 might want to hold on to their copies as it also contains "Vesuvius" from the 1963 various-artists compilation KFWB's Battle of the Surfing Bands! in addition to the 26 tracks gathered here. Although the combo's personnel fluctuated fairly regularly, at the core of the Sentinals are guitarist Tommy Nunes, saxophonist Bobby Holmquist, and drummer Johnny Barbata (a future member of the Turtles). They rose from the fertile Central Coastline surf scene of the early '60s, where they gained significant regional fame. After several local indie labels issued the song "Latinia" in the spring of 1962, the band was signed to the undisputed ho-daddy of the surf bands, Del-Fi Records. In fairly short order, their tenure yielded the Big Surf! and Surfer Girl albums -- released within months of each other in 1963. While certainly not Dick Dale & the Del-Tones or the Ventures, the Sentinals captured much of the charm and eternally sunny disposition reflected in the distinctly American subgenre. Complementing the practically obligatory covers -- including a rowdy workout of the Isley Brothers' "Shout" as well as Freddie King's "Hideaway" and "Sensation" -- the Sentinals provide a few memorable originals here. Among the standouts are Nunes' overhaul of "Tequila" (renamed "Tor-Chula"), "Sunset Beach," the group efforts "The Pipe" and "Surf Stomper," and the Lee/Holmquist-penned unofficial anthem "The Sentinal." Kudos to Collectors' Choice Music for not only reviving the Del-Fi catalog, but taking such care in doing so.

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