Wednesday, August 7, 2013


It's Bruce Brown month over at Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban, and I gotta say, it surprised the shit outta me. Why? Well, while it is apropos, given that it's mid summer and high time for summer related music, Bruce Brown was a film maker, a surf film maker to be exact. He's not a musician, so it will be interesting to see how this shapes up. 

Brown had already made a handful of surf films before he made it big with The Endless Summer in 1964. His previous films were all 8mm, without sound. Brown would narrate the films while they rolled, sometimes with music accompanying his corny reparte. They were total DIY endeavors, done on shoestring budgets and shown in rented halls and school auditoriums, but they remain classic documents of late fifties and early sixties surf culture. That was before all of the beach party movies and commercialization of the once outsider sport turned things into a full on craze. (His first five films can be found in a boxed set with The Endless Summer at online retailers for as low as thirty two bucks. Yeah, Netflix too.) Brown himself unknowingly contributed to mass surf hysteria, when The Endless Summer, was picked up for nationwide release, leading to wide acclaim and the first bi-coastal onslaught of kooks in the line up. (Professionalization of the sport, and the deluge of "surf wear" companies in the eighties can be blamed for the second onslaught, of which we're still in the thick of.)

Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban kicked off the month with the soundtrack to The Endless Summer, by the Sandals. I could go on and on about that LP, which I first purchased as a young teen at a garage sale (about four blocks from where I sit right now). It was one of my first surf LPs, and I was already familiar with it, having recorded the audio of the movie while lying in front of the TV with our family's shared cassette recorder. I was a fiend. The music itself is probably more laid back than what you would think of as surf music. It was released on World Pacific, a jazz label (also home to Bud Shank, a jazz saxophonist who did the soundtracks for a couple of Brown's earlier films). It's slower paced, and has some acoustic guitar and melodica. In other words, "Miserlou" it's not. The Sandals were relative outsiders in the surf music scene, and only recorded a few records, the best of which is this LP.  But, all that said, having listened to the genre for a long time, lived at the beach for a better part of my life, and yes, surfed and bodysurfed, I gotta say, it's got a certain authentic after-beach vibe to it that most surf music lacks. When you tire of frantic, these will come in handy. 

Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban has all of the soundtracks twelve songs as single mp3s, so you can pick and choose. Here's a couple, go there for the rest. Believe me, there will be at least one barbeque this summer that these were made for.

The Sandals - The Endless Summer mp3 at Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban
The Sandals -  6 Pack mp3 at Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban
The Sandals - Decoy mp3 at Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban
The Sandals - Nine more songs at Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban
The Endless Summer radio spot mp3 at Rock 'n' Soul Ichiban
Endless Summer clips at YouTube
The Sandals and Bruce Brown at Vimeo Dialogue at the end. Semi current.
Bruce Brown Films
Bruce Brown at Wikipedia
The Endless Summer at Wikipedia
The Sandals at Wikipedia
The Endless Summer collection at Surf Classics The original iconic poster design was by John Van Hammersveld who later did the cover of Exile on Main St.

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