Hot Doggers

Surfin' U.S.A.

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The Hot Doggers were actually a studio-only project of Bruce Johnston (who played piano and bass, and sang lead vocals) and Terry Melcher (who produced and added backup vocals), with plenty of assistance from top Los Angeles session musicians. Though Johnston and Melcher each made notable contributions to the '60s L.A. rock scene, Surfin' U.S.A. is nothing more than a quickie surf exploitation album, most of the songs being covers of then-recent hits by the likes of the Beach Boys, the Ventures, and Dick Dale. Though it's professionally executed (and largely instrumental, with only four of the 12 tracks featuring vocals), it would be rather foolish to pay these tracks serious attention when the originals were so much better. True, there are top players involved, including Leon Russell and Glen Campbell before either had risen to stardom, as well as Hal Blaine (drums), Carol Kaye (bass), Billy Strange (guitar), Steve Douglas (saxophone), and Tommy Tedesco (guitar). Plus, Johnston did get to write one of the songs, the unremarkable, frenetic closing instrumental "Quasimoto." But this only has value for aficionados who collect everything they can from the era featuring these musicians, rather than for the more general surf music fan.

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