De-Fenders

Drag Beat

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Armed with a solid cache of seminal West Coast studio musicians, Del-Fi Records owner Bob Keane issued the dozen selections on Drag Beat (1963) under the nom de plume of the De-Fenders. Coupling the music with copious drag racing effects, the ersatz band churn out a batch of originals and an apropos cover of "Little Deuce Coupe." Although the melody is loosely based on the Beach Boys' classic, many of the same instrumentalists used in this project also worked on the backing track to the well-known hit version. The opener "Deuces Wild" grinds steadily boasting a full-bodied rousing drive around a tune similar to that of Dale Hawkins' slightly syncopated Crescent City groove "Suzy Q." Jay Migliori (sax) and Plas Johnson (sax) provide sizable brass leads accompanying Michel Rubini's (keyboards) freewheelin' Hammond B-3 organ. A parody of Harry Belafonte's "Day-O" call-and-response introduction has been adapted to the mid-tempo "Taco Wagon," bearing the unmistakable sound of Tommy Tedesco (guitar) supplying the swinging twang. The bluesy "Movin' and Groovin'" can be likened to Lightnin' Hopkins' "Smokestack Lightning" as either Migliori (sax) or Johnson (sax) trade impressive licks while Tedesco unleashes some clean soulful picking, while the influence of Chuck Berry can be heard all over "Loose Nuts." Other interesting inclusions are the distinct R&B vibe propelling "Wheelin' Home" and the edgy "Road Runner," a song that shouldn't be confused with the Junior Walker & the All-Stars or Bo Diddley numbers of the same name. In 2004, Collectors' Choice Music gathered the De-Fenders' Drag Beat (1963) alongside the Deuce Coupes' Hotrodders' Choice (1963) and the Darts' Hollywood Drag (1963) on the two-CD Del-Fi Hotrodders (2004) anthology.

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