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Sunset Beach: The Best of the Sentinals

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Album Review

Both of the Sentinals' albums combined onto one CD, with the addition of a bonus track, "Vesuvius," from the 1963 KFWB's Battle of the Surfing Bands! compilation. The Sentinals' debut LP, Big Surf, was a diverse if uneven platter. It was best at its most Latin-influenced, as with the rolling riffs and cha-cha rhythms of "Latin'ia," their best-known track, and the Latin-Bo Diddley mix of "Latin Soul." "Exotic" is an acceptable Dick Dale pastiche, but on some other instros they get into a more standard R&B groove. In the vocal department, there's the fastest version of "Shout" (with vocals) you'll ever hear, drummer John Barbata pushing the tempo like a cuckoo clock coming unwound; one of the relatively few covers of the Beach Boys' first single ("Surfin'") available; and the maudlin "Surfin' Tragedy," a lyric the musicians obviously weren't taking terribly seriously, judging from the tongue-in-cheek execution. 1964's Surfer Girl was not as raw or Latin-influenced, and therefore not as worthy, as Big Surf. You still get some fair cuts like "The Pipe," with its sketchy Dick Dale-does-"Pipeline" vibe; the eerie "Twilighter," with its "Telstar"-ish wordless backup vocals and a melody that resembles "Georgy Girl"; and the strange instrumental cover of the Beach Boys' "Surfer Girl." Much of the time, however, they sound like a young R&B-rock bar band circa 1963, with the intensity heard on much of their debut album muted. "Vesuvius," the bonus cut, is a worthy, frantic surf-meets-the-twist raver with some of Barbata's best early drumming.


Formed: 1961

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s

A decent though not first-division surf band, the Sentinals made a couple of albums for Del-Fi in 1963-64 and achieved a good deal of regional popularity, although only drummer Johnny Barbata (later in the Turtles and Jefferson Starship) would go on to name groups. They formed in 1961 in the Californian Central Coast town of San Luis Obispo, a locale that also bred another Del-Fi surf band, the Impacts (starting point of future cult folk-rocker Merrell Fankhauser). The Sentinals (sometimes, confusingly,...
Full Bio
Sunset Beach: The Best of the Sentinals, The Sentinals
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  • $13.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Surf, Rock & Roll
  • Released: Jul 13, 1999

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