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Surf Rider!

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Album Review

Prior to the early-to-mid-'60s British Invasion, the West Coast surf craze led the charge of innovative artists who were filling regional ballrooms and beaches and issuing as many 45s and LPs as the ravenous teen-driven market could handle. The comparatively small Del-Fi indie label was home to several of these acts, one of the most proficient were the Lively Ones, an Orange County based quintet with Jim Masoner (guitar), Ed Chiaverini (guitar), Ron Griffith (bass), Joel Willenbring (sax), and Tim Fitzpatrick (drums). By the time their debut LP, Surf Rider! (1963), made it to store shelves in 1963, they had already issued a handful of singles, the most successful being a reworking of the Ventures' deep LP cut "Spudnik," rechristened as "Surf Rider." Although it made little impact nationally, the catchy tune and beguiling beat became a local smash, prompting Del-Fi to compile an album's worth of material with previously available sides, a few new originals, as well as some songs that would have been familiar to the audience. During an era marked by a plethora of nominally talented and ersatz sound-alike cover bands, in retrospect the Lively Ones' music remains noteworthy for their strong self-penned numbers. Among those highlights are the bouncy mid-tempo "Happy Gremmie," the driving rhythm behind "Walkin' the Board," and above all the gritty "Goofy Foot." As was customary, they also retooled and personalized concurrently popular melodies, including obligatory interpretations of Dick Dale's "Misirlou," "Let's Go Trippin'," and the solid opener "Surf Beat." Buoyed by incisive interplay between Masoner and Willenbring, other standouts are "Guitar Man" — a Top 20 hit for Duane Eddy — and the darkly brooding "Caterpillar Crawl." [In 2004 The Surf Rider! was coupled with the Lively Ones' subsequent full-length effort, Surf Drums (1963), onto CD by Collectors' Choice Music.]

Customer Reviews

A Fun Romp!

Just happy party music. You'll definitely enjoy this blast from the past!

Solid instrumental surf from band’s 1963 debut LP

The Lively Ones’ debut album remained their best effort, and a great example of ‘50s instrumentals morphing into ‘60s surf rock. Joel Willenbring supplies the fat-toned sax, and Jim Masoner and Ed Chiaverini the reverbed guitars. The quintet’s first full length pulled together previously released singles – notably the title track’s reworking of the Ventures’ “Spudnik” – with a handful of covers and a few memorable originals. The album opens with Tom Fitzpatrick’s crisp drumming kicking off Dick Dale’s “Surf Beat,” smoothly integrating Willenbring’s growling sax with the low twanging guitars. A take on the classic “Miserlou” hasn’t the manic staccato virtuosity of Dale’s version, but the drums once again cut sharp lines behind the energetic guitars. The more obscure covers are even better: a moody take on the Strangers’ “Caterpillar Crawl” and an upbeat romp through “Walkin’ the Board” each sound like something Thee Swank Bastards would use to get Szandora LaVey’s hula-hoop up to speed. The two originals, “Goofy Foot” and “Happy Gremmie” are quite fine, the latter with a bluesy edge to its combination of surf and Vegas grind. Great sound (stereo except track 2, 4, 5 and 6) – this is a must have for any surfer stomp; available as an album of MP3’s or a two-fer (with their second album, Surf Drums) as a CD. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Classic Seminal Surf Instrumentals

"Just happy party music" What?! This is absolutely great and is a great example of the American Surf-instrumental style from the early 60's. If only someone would reissue the mono version on vinyl...


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...
Full Bio
Surf Rider!, The Lively Ones
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Surf, Rock & Roll
  • Released: 1963

Customer Ratings