Saturday, November 23, 2013

Jack Nitzsche - The Lonely Surfer (1963)

 Jack Nitzsche had one brush with greatness early in his career, apart from his job as Phil Spector's arranger -- "The Lonely Surfer," a classic of the surf music genre. This album attempted to extend his solo career beyond that of a one-hit wonder, with mixed success. The best cuts are songs that are in the same surfer mold: "Puerto Vallarta," "Baja," and "Beyond the Surf." Nitzsche had a gift for melodramatic, ascending arrangements that rose to dramatic crescendos, underpinned by rumbling basslines and clanging percussion. Less successful are a super-slow take on "Da Doo Ron Ron" and remakes of easy listening and soundtrack hits such as "Ebb Tide" and "More," which are given a precious sheen of strings. The one exception is a rather rocking version of Elmer Bernstein's "Magnificent Seven," which sounds like it was made for dancing. This is a pleasant, if not exceptional, set of music for fans of surf instrumentals.


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