The Lively Ones

Surfin' South of the Border

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The dozen cuts on 1964's Surfin' South of the Border are split among the Lively Ones and the Surf Mariachis -- the latter consisting of five renowned West Coast studio session instrumentalists under the direction of Del-Fi Records owner Bob Keane. The results yielded what was arguably one of the first "concept albums" of the surf rock subgenre. The project was unabashedly designed as a vehicle to release the remnants of the the Lively Ones' previous endeavors. The remaining time was filled with new Latin-flavored versions of tunes already well known by the targeted teen audience. Regardless of how opportunistic those terms might seem, give credit where credit is due, as Keane pulls off yet another inspired collection. Truth be told, it is curious why Lively Ones tracks such as the spirited opener, "Torquay," and the echoplex-happy reading of Ernest Gold's 1960 Oscar-winning composition "Exodus" were initially left on the editing room floor. The personnel of the Surf Mariachis boasted Conte Candoli (trumpet), Tom Scott (sax), Jay Migliori (sax), Billy Strange (guitar), and Frankie Capp (percussion), so it isn't that difficult to understand why they sound comparatively polished. "Watermelon Man" is a particularly tasty groove, as is Lalo Schifrin's frenetic "Undertow" and Lee Hazlewood's "Baja Surf," all of which strike a perfect balance between cool and kitsch. [In 2004, Collectors' Choice Music issued the Lively Ones' Surf City/Surfin' South of the Border, including both LPs on a single CD.]

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