Friday, 14 December 2012

What to buy the surf fan in your life for Christmas?

A Guitar
Fender Stratocasters, Jaguars and Jazzmasters will always go down well and all can now be bought at a variety of price points, so why not splash out and buy your surf-loving friend some six-string loveliness. For the more adventurous, you could try looking for a Mosrite, if you can find a real one, or one of the many clones now on the market.

A Reverb Unit
On this side of the Atlantic, at least, an original vintage Fender reverb tank is very difficult to track down, but the reissues are ok and easier to lay your hands on. As a cheaper alternative, there's the Boss FRV-1, which is well liked in many quarters, while the new Supernatural from Hardwire sounds really promising. Here's a quick demo:

A Crate of Beer
Negra Modelo from Mexico is our current favourite tipple, "complex Vienna-style lager with caramel and chocolate flavours from the malt," apparently, but we just think it's delicious.

A Book About Surf Music
Surf Beat by Kent Crowley makes a very interesting read, despite being a little repetetive at times, relying rather too much on reminding the reader of Frank Zappa's part in surf music and falling rather too readily for some marketing nonsense from Fender (it seems that 1962 was the year they made all their very best guitars, but it might just be that they were flogging a range of American Vintage 1962 Re-Issue guitars at the time!).

An Eddie and the Showmen CD
As a tribute to the great man who died earlier this year. Squad Car is rather expensive in the UK at the moment, but really worth the cost. This YouTube video shows Eddie chatting in 2007 and includes some good stories about Leo Fender, The Bel-Airs and why roundwound strings are superior to flatwounds, which some would dispute:

A Trip to the Surfer Joe Summer Festival 2013
The Surfer Joe Summer Festival 2013 will take place in Livorno Italy from June 20th - 23rd. Organiser and all round nice guy Lorenzo Valdambrini has promised that this will be the best line-up yet, although he also said that he would anounce who was playing back in September. We're still waiting Lorenzo! However, a good time is always guaranteed at what is probably the foremost festival of surf music in the world, so book early. We hope to see you all there.

A CD Box Set
Only one contender here: Surf-Age Nuggets. This is a mammoth undertaking; 97 original 1960's surf and trash instrumentals, plus some radio and cinema trailers, adverts and jingles, spread over four CDs and handsomely packaged in a rather beautiul booklet. Compiled by James Austin, who collaborated with John Blair on the Cowabunga box set, issued in 1996. Surf-Age Nuggets is apparently intended as a companion to that earlier set and tends to feature far more obscure material. Dick Dale does put in an appearance, with second single Jungle Fever, while Bobby Fuller's Stringer alos features. For the most part, though, the other bands were unfamilar to me (although quite a number of these tracks can evidently be found on other compilations) and some of the tracks are covers of tunes made famous by other acts (Miserlou, Moment of Truth, Slaughter on 10th Avenue, Ali Baba...). Most of the playing is extremely raw and some of the recordings defiantly lo-fi, but this is a tremendous collection, which will repay the consdierable time it will take you to absorb all the material. There are introductions by Mike Campbell from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Chris Isaak and Austin himself, while extensive notes on the tracks are provided by Alan Taylor and Dave Burke of Pipeline Instrumental Review, although they do acknowledge their considerable debt to John Blair's epic tome The Illustrated Discography of Surf Music.

If you know someone who loves surf music buy them Surf-Age Nuggets for Christmas, while stocks last. If the Cowabunga box set is anything to go by, it will be changing hands for rather higher prices in the not too distant future.

Another Book About Surf Music
The aforementioned Illustrated Discography of Surf Music, by John Blair, now in its fourth edition.

Some Guitar Strings
Although you could be opening a whole can of worms here. Medium, heavy, very heavy or Dick Dale-heavy gauge? Roundwound or flatwound? Fender, Ernie Ball or D'Addario? Maybe just get a voucher to spend in your local guitar emporium.

A New House
To keep all the guitars in!

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