Squad Car

Eddie & the Showmen

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Squad Car Review

by Cub Koda

Between 1962 and 1965, Eddie Bertrand and the Showmen recorded some of the most frantic and dead-on surf recordings ever. One of the founding members of the Bel-Airs, Bertrand left the group in pursuit of a bigger sound. When Leo Fender started building bigger amplifiers (the Showman model, which is where the group got its name) and stand-alone reverb units to go with them, Eddie found his sound and became one of the first of the West Coast guitarists to exploit these cutting-edge technological advances for all they were worth. Eddie and the Showmen sounded huge and commanding both on record and especially in person; their take-no-prisoners approach is finally on full display here, the very first compilation of their two-year recorded legacy. Combining both sides of their five singles for Liberty Records with seven previously unissued items of equal firepower, this is surf music at its finest. The title track, featuring two sax players blowing through just their mouthpieces to simulate police sirens, is twang-guitar excitement to the nth degree; for more high-energy onslaught, it's also tough to beat "Scratch," "Showmen Stomp" or -- for a real change of pace -- the country loony instrumental "Break Time." Eddie & the Showmen may not not have achieved their place in surf history accorded even lesser talented bands, but in assembling a collection of surf's best, this one should be near the top of the list.

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