Here it is, the history of surf music on four hot CDs that no self-respecting rocker could live without. Starting with 1960s sides by The Fireballs, The Gamblers, and, of course, Dick Dale & The Del-Tones, this box set traces surf music to its current reincarnation with Jon & The Nightriders and, of course, the return of Dick Dale.
Surf music may have been the first loud music, back when “loud” was a dirty word. Blame it on Dick Dale, who even helped Leo Fender develop his powerful lineup of guitar amplifiers to play surf music right. Add reverb and the jangling sound of a Fender Jaguar guitar, and the ingredients were all there to rock music history.
To call this collection of surf music essential is an understatement: surf was some of the hottest, rowdiest, and loudest music in the world, circa 1960, and Rhino’s set does justice to the genre. These four CDs collect surf classics and rarities including the original “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris, “Pipeline” by the Chantays, and Dick Dale’s great “Miserlou.”
Cowabunga! also includes a 65-page book packed with rare photos and a detailed text by surf historian and guitarist John Blair (Jon & The Nightriders), a perfect primer to surf music history. Yes, this set has been reviewed in these pages before, but something this good deserves second mention.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s May ’97 issue.