Surf-music heads may talk in terms of specific bays and surf spots in California, when really it's all just a starting point for 1960s instrumental guitar. Surf led to hot rod followed by space rock as typified by "Telstar." That said, there is considerable variety to be had. The Beach Boys and other vocal groups did their thing, but most of the attraction is the guitar "shredding" of such guitar heroes as Dick Dale. As the idiom ran its course, skiing (water and snow), skateboarding, and probably a few other things worked their way into the general "board sports" theme begun by surf music.

And then you have the phenomenon of every group that started in 1962 or so claiming it invented the style, or wrote the original "Wipe Out," or were the first to do something else. Another point of contention is the contrast between teenagers trying their hardest and studio professionals achieving something close to perfection. The "Wrecking Crew" of LA studio players and especially producer Gary Usher created some very fine stuff, as did the kids in their own raw way. The impact of all this "music scene" (and its exploitation) was felt far and wide, eventually. Early on, though, surf guitar first had to replace light jazz as the stuff of the soundtracks for Bruce Brown's famous surf movies. And even some of the mid-1960s beach-party movies featured a few great tunes sprinkled in, here and there. But, as with all idioms, sometimes the best stuff is lurking on rare records on [in this case, hopelessly inland!] labels such as King.

Buying: It's always a great time to collect surf records, as original 45s and CD compilations continue to round out the better-known quantities available on LP and CD. CD reissues offer extra tracks but sometimes at the expense of the tracks on the original LP. For the best sound, vinyl is the way to go.

Surf LPs

6Mike Adams and the Red Jackets: Surfers Beat; Crown CST-312
8Aki Aleong and the Nobles: Come Surf With Me; VeeJay VJSR-1060/VJLP-1060/
Annette: Annette Sings Golden Surfin' Hits; Buena Vista BV-3327; 1965
7The Astronauts: Surfin' with the Astronauts; RCA Victor LSP-2760; 1963 (guitar/surf)
8The Avalanches: Ski Surfin'; Warner Bros. W-1525
7The Back-Wash Rhythm Band: The Golden Breed ST; Capitol ST-2886
8The Beach Boys: Surfin' Safari; Capitol T-4572 (no real stereo)
8The Beach Boys: Surfin' USA; Capitol ST-1890
9The Beach Boys: Surfer Girl; Capitol ST-1981 (surf/hot rod)
8The Beach Boys: All Summer Long; Capitol ST-2110 (hot rod/surf)
7Blue Stingrays: Surf-n-Burn; Epitone 86001; 1997 (Tom Petty's Heartbreakers in faux-'60s instrumental surf group)
7The Challengers: Surfbeat; Vault 100
8The Challengers: Surfing with the Challengers; Atco/Vault 101-A; 1963
7The Challengers: On the Move--Surfing Around the World; Atco/Vault 102; 1963
6The Challengers: Wipe Out; GNP Crescendo GNPS-2031; 1966
7The Challengers: Sidewalk Surfing; GNP Crescendo GNPS-2093; 1975
8The Chantays: Pipeline; Dot DLP-25516/DLP-3516; 1963
7The Chantays: Two Sides of the Chantays; Dot DLP-25771/DLP-3771; 1965 (space rock)
8Jerry Cole and his Spacemen: Outer Limits; Capitol ST-2044; 1963 (surf/dance rock/space rock)
5Don Dailey: Surf Stompin': Crown CST-314 (mediocre bluesy instrumentals but nice for the jacket's Bruce Brown still)
8Dick Dale and his Del-Tones: Surfers' Choice; Capitol/Deltone T-1886; 1962 (mono)
8Dick Dale and his Del-Tones: King of the Surf Guitar; Capitol ST-1930; 1963
Dick Dale and his Del-Tones: Summer Surf; Capitol ST-2111; 1964
Dick Dale and his Del-Tones: Live at Ciro's; Capitol ST-2293; 1965 (partly surf)
8Dick Dale and his Del-Tones: Greatest Hits; GNP Crescendo GNPS-2095; 1975 (CD reissue has 11 extra tracks from Capitol years including non-LP singles)
8Mr. Gasser & the Weirdos: Surfink!; Capitol ST-2114; 1964)
5Jimmie Haskell: [John Severson Presents] Sunset Surf; Capitol ST-1915 (with Glen Campbell)
8The Impacts: Wipe Out!; Del-Fi DFST-1234/DFLP-1234; 1962 (Merrell Fankhauser's legendary debut; reissued as Ocean OR6-871; 1988)
7Jan & Dean: Ride the Wild Surf; Liberty LST-7368 (their only surf LP)
6Jan & Dean Take Linda Surfin'; Liberty LST-7294 (very little surf)
7Jan & Dean: Surf City & Other Swingin' Cities; Liberty LST-7314 (very little surf)
7Alex Keack: Surfers Paradise; Crown CLP-5315 (exotica/Latin jazz in surf clothing)
9The Lively Ones: Surf Rider; Del-Fi DFST-1226/DFLP-1226 (first LP includes hit single originally issued under former name "The Surfmen"--conflicted with Alshire exotica group)
The Lively Ones: Surf Drums; Del-Fi DFST-1231/DFLP-1231
The Lively Ones: Surf City; Del-Fi DFST-1237/DFLP-1237
7The Lively Ones: The Great Surf Hits!!; Del-Fi DFST-1238/DFLP-1238
6Jack Marshall: My Son The Surf-Nut; Capitol ST-1939 (novelty/comedy in the same vein as labelmates Mr. Gasser & the Weirdos)
8Dave Myers and the Surftones: Hangin' Twenty!; Del-Fi DFST-1239/DFLP-1239 (with bongos)
7The [Surfin' Rhythms of] The New Dimensions: Surf'n Bongos; Sutton SSU-332
7The New Dimensions: "Soul" with The New Dimensions; Sutton SSU-336 (surf/mod soul)
6Stu Phillips: Follow Me ST; MCA/Uni 73056; 1969 (hippie exoticism rather than surf music but a surf movie nonetheless)
8The Pyramids: Penetration; Sundazed LP-5012; 1995/1962-5 (definitive 14-cut comp)
8The Rhythm Rockers: Soul Surfin'; Challenge CH-617; 1963
7The Sandells: Scrambler: Liberty/World-Pacific WP-1818 (biker/surf/dance rock/organ; first LP release of "The Endless Summer" theme)
8The Sandals: The Endless Summer ST; World-Pacific ST-1832 (note the name change)
7The Sandals: The Last of the Ski Bums ST; Liberty/World-Pacific WPS-21884; 1969 (hippie exoticism rather than surf but good funky rock/psyche funk/exotic rock)
The Sentinals: Big Surf; Del-Fi DFST-1232/DFLP-1232
6The Spinners: Party-My Pad, After Surfin'; Time S-2092 (partly dance rock)
4The Sunsets: Surfing with the Sunsets; Palace PST-752 (not surf at all, just R&B)
7The Super Stocks: Surf Route 101; Capitol ST-2113 (Hondells/Gary Usher)
The Surf Stompers: The Original Surfer Stomp; Del-Fi DFST-1236/DFLP-1236
8The Surf Teens: Surf Mania!! with the Surf Teens; Sutton SSU-339
7The Surfaris: Wipe Out [& Surfer Joe]; Dot DLP-25535/DLP-3535; 1963 (2 Surfaris singles, rest by studio group)
8The Surfaris: Play; Decca DL-74470 (surf)
5The Tides: Surf City/Surfin' USA; Mercury Wing MGW-12265
8The Trashmen: Surfin' Bird; Soma LPGA-200
Bob Vaught & the Renegaids: Surf Crazy; GNP/Crescendo GNP-83ST
6The Wave Crests: Surftime U.S.A.; Viking VK-606
4Tats Yamashita: Big Wave ST; Moon MOON-28109; 1984 (Japan; covers Beach Boys and Harry Nilsson)
8Various: The Big Itch [Vol. 1]; Mr. Manicotti MM-328 (surf/hot rod/rock/rockabilly/exotic rock/garage rock)
7Various: Everybody's Goin' Surfin'; Parkway P-7035; 1962 (Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Dee Dee Sharp, Orlons, Tymes, Dovells)
8Various: Get a Board!; Satan 1007; (16 rarities of surf/hot rod)
8Various: Look Who's Surfing Now; King 882; 1964 (rare!; James Brown instrumental "Surfin' Along" otherwise unavailable!; surf/mod soul/drums/Latin rock)
9Various: Surf & Drag; Columbia Special Products P-14429; 1978 (20 classics of surf/hot rod)
7Various: The Surf Boys Surfaris; Guest Star GS-1433 (The Surf Boys, Surfaris (rare), Dick Dale (public domain), Surf Kings)
6Various: Surf Party ST; 20th Century Fox TFM-3131; 1964 (Jimmie Haskell, Astronauts, Jackie De Shannon, Kenny Miller, Patricia Morrow, Lory Patrick)
9Various: Surfin' on Wave Nine; King 855
8Various: Surfin' Roots; Festival FR-1010; 1977 (2-LP)
8Various: Surfin' Sixties; JCI JCI-3106; 1985
8Various: Surfing with the Beach Boys, Marketts, and Frogmen; Gateway GLSP-10104; 1977 (similar to Surfin' Roots)
9Various: Surfing's Greatest Hits; Capitol ST-1995; (Beach Boys, Dick Dale, Jack Marshall..)
Various: Wail on the Beach; Satan 1004; (rarities of surf/hot rod)

Partly Surf LPs

8Annette: Hawaiiannette; Buena Vista BV-3303; 1960
7Annette: Annette's Beach Party [ST]; Buena Vista BV-3316; 1963 (three songs repeated from Hawaiiannette)
7Annette: Muscle Beach Party [ST]; Buena Vista BV-3314; 1964 (hot rod/surf/torch)
Annette: Annette at Bikini Beach [ST]; Buena Vista BV-3324; 1964
7William Beasley (producer): Draggin' & Surfin' Vol. II; Modern Sound MS-536 (hot rod/surf)
7Johnny Bond: Famous Hot Rodders I Have Known; Starday SLP-354 ("Hot Rod Surfin' Hootlebeatnannie")
8Les Brown, Jr.: Wildest Drums Yet!; GNP Crescendo GNP-79 (drums/surf/mod soul; breaks)
7The Buddies: Go Go with the Buddies; Mercury Wing MGW-12306; 1965 (Hot Rod/biker/surf "I'll Surf Around the World")
7Jan & Dean: Drag City; Liberty LST-7339 (hot rod/surf)
7Jan & Dean: The Little Old Lady from Pasadena; Liberty LST-7377 (hot rod/surf)
7Jan & Dean: Command Performance--Live in Person; Liberty LST-7377 (hot rod/surf; live)
7Jan & Dean: Filet of Soul; Liberty LST-7441 ("Honolulu Lulu")
6Bruce Johnston Surfing Band: Surfers' Pajama Party; Del-Fi DFST-1228/DFLP-1228; 1963 (live dance-rock LP with "Surfers Stomp" only real claim to surf music)
7The Malibu's [Play]; Scenic EAB-101574; 1974 (Maine lounge act/country-rock quartet; "Wipe Out")
8Gene Moss: Dracula's Greatest Hits; RCA Victor LSP-2977; 1964 ("Surf Monster"; horror/novelty/exotic/surf/dance rock; with Fred Rice & Billy Riley)
8The Ramones Leave Home; ABC/Sire SA-7528; 1977 ("California Sun")
7The Rip Chords: Three Window Coupe; Columbia CS-9016 (hot rod/surf/bongo rock)
8The Surfaris: Hit City 64; Decca DL-74487 (hot rod/surf)
9Takeshi Terauchi: Nippon Guitars; Ace/Big Beat WIKD-297; 2011/1966-74 (Japan/guitar/surf/space rock; compilation of Takeshi Terauchi & the Bunnys/Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans on Japanese King)
Various: The Big Itch; Mr. Manicotti MM-328
6Various: The Swingers; Columbia CSP-176 (Bruce Johnston: "Surfing's Here to Stay")

Surf 45s

7The Atlantics: Bombora/Greensleeves; Columbia 4-42877
8Les Brown, Jr.: Swingin' & Surfin'/Drum's Safari; Crescendo GNP 191x (great tracks from rare LP)
9The Centuries: The Outer Limits/Polynesian Paradise; Cleopatra C-2 (surf or space-rock/exotic rock guitar)
5Bruce Johnston: Do The Surfer Stomp Part One/Do The Surfer Stomp Part Two; Donna 1354
8Freddie King: Surf Monkey/Monkey Donkey; Federal 45-12509 (mod soul/guitar)
8The Menzies Family: Country Drums/My Last Goodbye; CMC 1007 (yep, it's private-press "Wipeout"-ish surf madness)
8The Rivieras: California Sun/H.B. Goosestep; Lana 136 (great even before the Ramones cover; also as USA/Riviera R-1401)
7Tommy Roe: A Wild Water Skiing Weekend/Dance with Henry; Paramount 45-10555
8The Roemans: Misirlou/Don't; ABC-Paramount 45-10671
7Milt Rogers & his Orchestra: Let's Go Trippin'/Lonely Road to Damascus; Dot 45-16296 (surf/percussion)
7The Royal-Tones: Black Lightning/Surfer Junction; Titanic 5014
8Tim Tam and the Turn-Ons: Opelia/Wait A Minute; Palmer 5002
7The Tornadoes: Bustin' Surfboards/Beyond the Surf; Aertaun 45-100
8The Trademarks: Baha-Ree-Ba! Parts 1 & 2; Jubal J-100
7The Trashmen: Surfin' Bird/Zam: Da Da Da; Maxi MX-764 (import reissue 12" single)

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