Surf Rock Playlist in Honor of Dick Dale at SunFest
Surf rock legend Dick Dale takes to the stage at West Palm Beach's SunFest tonight. Sandwiched in between early rock 'n' roll, rockabilly and the British Invasion, surf rock briefly dominated the charts in the early '60s. Its easily accessible rhythms and narratives of carefree adolescence conjure images of sun soaked beaches, parties, girls, hot rods, and of course, catching that perfect wave. It remains incredibly evocative of the era, creating the kind of joyful blissful escapism that rapidly fell out of vogue when rock began to take itself more seriously as the decade wore on.
Dick Dale was a pioneer of the instrumental surf rock tune. His distorted heavy twang played at a frenetic pace and raucously loud made waves that influenced not only the genre he is synonymous with, but everyone from Van Halen to the Ramones. To celebrate his arrival, here's a playlist of surf rock classics to get swept away with.
10. "Surfin' Bird" - The Trashmen
If any early rock 'n' roll song could've provoked the ire of musical purists, it would have been the manic, nonsensical, propulsive "Surfin' Bird" by the Trashmen. Released as a single ten days before the Kennedy assassination, "Surfin' Bird" is the kind of tune that would have had parents generally worried about what the hell their children were listening to even today. Surely this was one of the first examples of inarticulacy as a virtue in rock 'n' roll, where something in the racket resonates with emotions that we do not have the means to express otherwise. There is madness in genius, and "Surfin' Bird" is brimming with both.
In 2010, a Facebook campaign was launched to get the song to the converted Christmas No. 1 spot in the UK, as a means of preventing the annual aural pap offering from that year's X-Factor winner. Alas, it just missed, reaching #3.
9. "Out of Limits" - The Marketts
This February '64 smash from the Los Angeles based outfit, incorporates a sci-fi B-movie twang to the classic surf rock instrumental. In fact, the story goes that Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling thought the song's opening lick rode the wave of his hit TV show a little too closely and sued the band for copying the title music's opening four note motif. However, this remains a classic of the surf rock era.