Too Cool For Words!
K. Brown | Walnut, Ca USA | 05/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've listened to The Challengers' "Killer Surf," one of their greatest hits compilations, for nearly ten years now. It's been one of my favorite surf CDs, but in recent years I've gone from casual surf music fan to mega-surf music fan. A few months ago, I decided to try one of The Challengers' non-compilation releases, "Surfbeat," and it was good...good, but nothing I would spend much timr writing home about. Now, I know when labels issue "Greatest Hits," they often scoop up the very best tunes, sprinkle a few so-so songs on the album, and leave the multitudes of vapid filler songs on the shelf. But "Killer Surf" was such a excellent compilation, I found it hard to believe that their non-comp releases were "just okay" albums like "Surfbeat."So I took a chance and picked up K-39, and have been cranking this CD over and over since receiving it a week ago! I have heard very few surf albums (excluding "Greatest Hits" comps) that are as solid from start to finish as K-39. This is absolutely a phenomenol album.K-39 begins with the title track, which best exemplifies the sound of The Challengers, starting with that "Surfing Rhythm Guitar" complete with that cool 60s super-sleuth guitar twang, followed in the second overture belting out an attitiude-packed
saxophone (which gives any surf band a wicked edge!). I wondered why I never realized what a great song K-39 is, especially when it is featured on the "Killer Surf" comp. I then read another Amazon.com review that mentioned it the K-39 featured on "Killer Surf" is a completely different recording of the tune. This is reason enough to pick up this non-comp CD, because this cut of K-39 is one of the coolest surf instrumentals I have ever heard anywhere. Less than three minutes long, but it's cool-effect is infinite! I know we all throw the word "cool" around liberally, but this song is a higher threshold of cool than others!"Wipe Out" is one of those songs I have heard one too many times, but they take the classic surf tune in such a different direction, I actually find myself listening to the entire song. "Telstar" is one of those songs I can listen to over and over, and again, The Challengers did their own take (ie minus keyboards) which gave the song a raw (but still melodic) flavor.My most awesome surprise came with the bonus tracks. With CD reissues of classic LPs, I think we've all found these bonus tracks can be hits & misses. I absolutely loved the final three "Hot Rod" tracks. The reason I was so surprised how much I enjoyed these songs is they are are surf music with vocals, and for every ten "surf vocals" I hear, only one of those will grab my attention. I was floored to find I loved ALL THREE VOCALS on this CD!!!My favorite of these bonus tracks is "Hot Rod Show." I can't quite put my finger on it, but the song is so funky, and the lyrics so flakey, that somehow it winds up being an absolute work of art! The lyrics and tune are so catchy that I find them running through my head when I'm miles away from my CD player, and the lyrics run instinctively through my lips almost like they have become a great American mantra!The Challengers' unique hep-mood music has an aura that is all their own, and based on what I have heard of their albums, K-39 shines that aura brighter than any other. I cannot emphasize it enough: this is one of the greatest surf CDs I have ever heard. Spread the word, because folks who have not heard it are missing out on a great piece of work!"
Johnny Heering | Bethel, CT United States | 02/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the fourth album by prolific surf band the Challengers. It is named after their best known song, "K-39". Most of the rest of the album features cover versions of (then) recent instrumental hits. This is good stuff. The songs are well played in the classic surf music style. The version of "Wipe Out" is especially interesting, because it has a very different arrangement than the Surfaris hit version. The CD has three bonus tracks that were not on the original album. These songs are a lot different than the rest of the CD, because they aren't instrumentals. They are vocal songs about cars. These songs are a lot of fun, too. I would recommend this CD to all fans of surf music. But I have to say, the cover of this album is one of the worst ever."