3 October 2011

The Surfaris - Shake

Label: Paramount
Year of Release: 196? (This reissue 1973)

Now here's a puzzler for your collective minds. The Surfaris are, I would hope, familiar to all readers of this blog as the authors and performers of the legendary "Wipe Out" single, a song originally composed as an off-the-cuff B-side which subsequently went on to sell in terrifying quantities as the radio play favoured track. Only yesterday I had the television on and an advert using "Wipe Out" as its soundtrack was burbling away in the background - if The Surfaris signed a reasonable contract at the time of its original release, I shudder to think how much money they've made from it since.

In 1973 Paramount acquired the rights to The Surfari's catalogue in the UK and decided to issue the evergreen single once more in the hope that it may enter the charts again. There's absolutely nothing unusual in that. What is unusual, however, is what they opted to place on the flip side. Contrary to the label's "1963" credit, their cover of Sam Cooke's "Shake" originally emerged on the Dot label in the USA in 1967 during a period when nobody much cared about the band anymore. As such, it sank like a stone. That's a bit of a shame, as the track now sounds like a mean old garage track which would sound completely at home on any compilation such as Pebbles or Nuggets - it swaggers confidently, grooves mightily and sounds more of its moment than any Surfaris record issued in the late sixties has a right to sound. Instead of sticking with the surf guitar twang, it would seem the boys diversified towards the end of their careers.

Despite all this, the track is still a bafflement to me. The Surfari's official website suggests that they disbanded around August 1966, which makes the 1967 release date seem strange. It also makes no mention of "Shake" at all, as if the damn thing never happened. But - unless there's something strange going on - it surely did, for here is the audio proof below. I've already begged you lot on Facebook and Twitter, and I'm begging you again now - anyone with the full facts surrounding this track should definitely drop me a comment. It's ace, and I'd appreciate it if I had a bit more background knowledge about how it dropped into the world.


kool_au said...

The recording history of the Surfaris is somewhat bizarre. To start with there were two Surfaris groups. The first one recorded Surfari/Bombora on Del-Fi 4219 in 1963. Then came the other group of the Wipe Out fame. That record was first issued on two small labels (Princess and DFS) than was picked up by Dot for national distribution and became a huge hit. The first Surfaris group lost the legal battle to keep the name and had to change to Original Surfaris, though they released some singles under the Surfaris name (Felsted 8688, Chancellor 1142). After Wipe Out the Surfaris signed to Decca and released 11 singles, the last one issued in 9/1966. So the first question is, why didn't Dot sign them after the success of Wipe Out? During the same period Dot released 4 singles credited to the Surfaris. The last one was Search/Shake (Dot 17008) in 4/1967. So the second question is, was this the same group? It's hard to imagine that their Decca contract would have had allowed them to record for Dot. Is it possible that Dot retained the rights to use the Surfaris name and that group was totally different from Decca group?


23 Daves said...

Thanks for the information.

I also asked about this over on the 45Cat website, and was told the following by dogear:

"Producer Martinek was their manager then, the session for the 45 was engineered by Richard Podolor at his American Recording studio on Venrura Blvd. in Studio City. The session was produced when The Surfaris' personnel had totally changed with only Jim Pash (guitar) left from the original line-up. The others were Steve Johnson (vocals), Ron Pelletier (drums), Jack Oldham (bass). Release date: April 1967"

So this would seem to be an answer, although your answer adds further pieces of information to the puzzle! A bit of a tangled web, really.