Sunday, September 04, 2011

Surf Beat by Kent Crowley

Surf Beat does a commendable job of providing the cultural context for the three waves of surf music. One of the strong points is the author provides more than the usual coverage of the technical developments and innovations of the musical instruments and amplifiers with obvious nods to Fender. Crowley also seems to know and express the local history and color stretching from the beaches, through the valleys, to the near vicinity of the San Gabriel Mountains where "Pipeline" was recorded at Pal Recording Studio in now Rancho Cucamonga. (I seem to recall that he wrote of the 1839 Mexican land grant of Rancho Cucamonga in Great God Pan Magazine over a decade ago.) He's especially good at capturing the internecine feuds between musicians and regions and provides the space to operate under a sort of Fairness Doctrine. Other strengths of Crowley are his positive & insightful assessments of the early 70's Beach Boys albums that "embraced technology while making music about nature." The section on second wave of surf music (led in part by John Blair) which coincided and converged with the punk/new wave movement, is especially welcomed as history is scattered on this era beyond the primary source documents.