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Merrell Fankhauser
Rockin And Surfin

Review By Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
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Merrell Fankhauser Rockin And Surfin

CD Number: Ocean Records

 

  My summers would be incomplete without a Merrell Fankhauser surf-instrumental-rock album playing in the backyard amongst all the seasonal activities. Now I will have another great rock 'n' roll album to spin this summer by the legendary guitar man from Southern California.

Rockin And Surfin is the latest in a long line of treasured releases by Fankhauser. At one point, he would no longer record this type of music because everyone from his surf band The Impacts had passed away, but with the urging of friends in the music business, he decided to give it another go. I would be deeply saddened if this man never made another surf-instrumental album, it fits him like a glove. We are the lucky recipients of yet another masterful performance by one of the best to ever strap on a six-string.

When you hear his incredible instrumental version of Dylan's (most people think of Hendrix)
"All Along The Watchtower," you will then understand from where it is I am coming from. There are the cover tunes, as there usually is at least one or two on any good surf-instro album worth its salt (no pun intended). He does wonderful renditions of the all-time classics "Baja" and "Pipeline," as only Merrell can. Those of you that are familiar with his work know what I mean when I say that.

Getting back to more updated sounds, "Wild Gyrations," (my favorite track) which features some killer sax, and "Rockin and Surfin," are splendid slices of surf-rock instrumental heaven that will bring you right to that sandy white beach or a ride on your favorite surfboard inside your mind. This music is picturesque and it really does help you envision things related to the music and culture. The closer "Last Wave At Hanalei", which serves as the sunset to this great set, saves your seat on the beach and that is where you stay until the album is through. This is pure pleasure and the warmth of the sun coming through your speakers, and that is why I listen to this music, it always makes me feel great!

Merrell is a believer in using vintage equipment to get his unique sound. He gave me an overview of what he used for the album:

I used a 1962 Fender Jazzmaster guitar and my 78 Fender Telecaster for the electric guitar parts, a Dobro slide on a few songs and Martin acoustic steel string & classical guitar. The electric's were played through A Fender Blues Delux tube amp, and a Dan Electro 'Nifty Fifty' amp run through a 'Blue Tube' pre amp, a Fender Bass on all bass parts. All of the final mixes went down to a 2-track 1/4-inch Ampex analog recorder. That really keeps the warmth in the music. I really don't like Computer or Pro Tools recording, it just sounds to digital. Surf music needs tubes and analog recorders. Chamber reverb is all we had in the old days until the spring reverb came along. The stand-alone Fender reverb units have the best quality for getting that original sound we had in the early 60s. I also run Yoriko's piano and Organ / Synth through an Apex tube pre amp to warm it up.

 

 

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