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Surf City

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Album Review

The Lively Ones were one of the better surf bands to have emerged from Del-Fi Records in the early to mid-'60s. In fact, it was 1963, to be exact, that found the release of no less than four long-players from the quintet, including Surf City, the combo's third full-length offering. Following in much the same format as preceding releases, the platter consisted primarily of cuts that had been previously issued as singles or were initially left off previous LPs — perhaps the most egregious example being "Surf Rider" (the title track from their 1963 debut album) — in addition to a handful of "new" sides. As was fairly common practice at the time, there are several high-profile cover versions of well-established hits, which is how Surf City commences. The instrumental reworking of Jan & Dean's June 1963 chart-topper was undoubtedly a recent supplement to the Lively Ones' repertoire, as the original had only been around for a few months. Conversely, their carbon copy of Dick Dale's anthemic "Miserlou" — another repeat from Surf Rider — and the subdued interpretation of Santo & Johnny's "Sleepwalk" had already become surf rock staples. "Head's Up," a lesser-known entry from R&B guitarist Freddie King, is given a punchy reading that motors along with some tasty interplay between saxophonist Joel Willenbring and lead guitarist Jim Masoner. Speaking of King, they close with a spirited translation of his "Butterscotch," cleverly rechristened as "Forty Miles of Bad Surf." The languid and moody "Malibu Run" is one of two group-penned numbers, proving that while not as prolific as their record company might have desired, the Lively Ones easily made up for it with quality. [In 2004, as part of their overhaul of the classic Del-Fi catalog, Collectors' Choice Music paired Surf City with the band's final effort, 1964's jazz-inspired Surfin' South of the Border, on a single CD, making it twice as nice for interested parties.]


Formed: 1963

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s

One of the best of the many instrumental surf bands working the Southern California region in 1963, the Lively Ones made recordings built around storming, reverb-drenched Fender guitars embellished by occasional raunchy sax breaks. Originality was not the Lively Ones' forte; over a period of about 12 months, they ground out about five albums, filled out with many covers or retitled numbers based on other rock and R&B compositions. They had a couple of hits in the L.A. area in 1963 ("Surf Rider" and...
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Surf City, The Lively Ones
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