Very few early rock & roll albums were true groundbreakers, but this is one: not only did it single-handedly establish the surf music genre (and Dick Dale's hegemony over it), but also sold the entire concept to mass America, where surfing in landlocked regions was only a state of mind. Largely recorded at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa Beach -- Dale's ruling home turf, where one can clearly hear the kids screaming in anticipation at the start of "Surf Beat" -- this lays out the vocal highlights from Dick's set list ("Peppermint Man," "Lovey Dovey," "Night Owl," "Fanny Mae," and "Sloop John B.," sounding very odd here with overdubbed strings) up against the instrumentals that truly forged the style. "Miserlou Twist" -- a different version than the original Del-Tone single -- and the original, pre-reverb single version of "Let's Go Trippin'" appear to be the only studio tracks aboard. But the live takes on "Surfing Drums" (later retitled "Tribal Thunder" on one of Dale's comeback albums), "Take It Off," "Shake 'n' Stomp," and the lowdown stomp of "Death of a Gremmie" just as clearly delineate the wild, reverbed excitement of the new style in its native habitat. Without a doubt, surf guitar's finest hour, the genre's equivalent to Charlie Parker's Dial recordings.
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AllMusic Review by Cub Koda