Surf City/Surfin' South of the Border is a single-CD compilation, issued in 2004, that contains both the third and fourth long-players by the Lively Ones, recorded during their short but prolific residency at the indie Del-Fi Records imprint. Contrasting with many of the generic instrumental aggregates of the era, the bandmembers were not studio pros recording under an assumed moniker. In fact, Joel Willenbring (sax) and Jim Masoner (guitar) led the rhythm section of Ed Chiaverini (guitar), Ron Griffith (bass), and Tim Fitzpatrick (drums) into becoming one of the better acts of the copious -- if not at times redundant -- West Coast surf scene. The opener, "Surf City," was a concurrently new cut, showing up on this platter only weeks after Jan & Dean's chart-topper, and was likely included as a quick way to cash in on the success of the original. Without the prominent vocals, however, the Lively Ones' interpretation pales in comparison. Considerably more accomplished is the revamped Dick Dale signature free-for-all "Miserlou" and the stinging "Head's Up," adapted from the canon of guitarist Freddie King. Perhaps due to the incessant demands of the label for fresh product to push, the band didn't get the opportunity to contribute an overabundance of its own tunes. If the introspective "Malibu Run" or the full-throttle energy of "Tranquilizer" are any indication, they were certainly capable composers as well as a substantial combo. Originally released in 1964, Surfin' South of the Border was a concept that paired the Lively Ones with an ad hoc gathering of session heavies who called themselves the Surf Mariachis. Conte Candoli (trumpet), Tom Scott (sax), Jay Migliori (sax), Billy Strange (guitar), and Frankie Capp (percussion) supply a lip-smacking "Watermelon Man" and a rousing reading of Lalo Schifrin's "Undertow" (among others), accompanying the Lively Ones'"Torquay," the reverb-laden "Exodus," and "Mexico."
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer