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Beach Party: Garpax Surf 'N' Drag, CD (£11.50)
Cliche it may be to say so, but they really don't make 'em like Gary S Paxton anymore.
At least, they don't as far as record men go. Today's A&R representative has it positively cushy by comparison with 60s guys like Gary, who had to spot the trend (or, in some cases, actually start the trend!), then write the songs, find the talent to perform them, hire the musicians, supervise the session, shop the masters and - more often than not - put the tracks out themselves when unanimously turned down by the major labels. And more than most, Paxton was the master of all trades, jack of none where the music business was concerned - he could do all that and more.
In a music biz career than now spans five decades, Gary Paxton has been a performer, musician, producer, songwriter, trend and talent spotter. Literally hundreds of recordings have featured him in at least one of these capacities, including several bona fide Hall Of Fame classics. Let's just check a few off for you now - Cherry Pie, It Was I, Alley-Oop, Monster Mash. You get the picture?
He's been responsible for everything from the novelty of Bobby Boris Pickett to the serious hardcore country of the Gosdin Brothers, so it should come as no surprise - even to those who have heard none of the records - that Paxton had many fingers in the musical pie of surf and car music. Well, based in Los Angeles it was inevitable somehow that he would have.
Although not a surfer himself, Gary knew several men who did surf, and among them was Bruce Johnston, former Hollywood Argyle, future Beach Boy and something of a one-man surf music industry from the early 60s onwards. With friends like Johnston, Gary was there at the epicentre of the surf music explosion, and thus it was only natural that he would start running sessions aimed at the California crowd.
The best sides from these sessions can be found in Beach Party: Garpax Surf 'n' Drag. Compiled by Ace's own (land-locked!) man on the West Coast, Alec Palao, with the usual amount of passionate expertise that Alec brings to all his projects, Beach Party" hangs ten on all counts and will wipe out even the most ardent Surf collector with its mixture of astonishing rarities and unissued masters. Every kind of surf style is here, from Dick Dale-style instros by the Torquays and Kenny & The Sultans, to solid black girl vocal group records, by the Fashions, masquerading as hymns to bronzed beach types. And then there are the novelties, of course. The less enlightened might argue that surf 'n' drag music is itself a 'novelty' but, of all the major producers affiliated with the genre, only Gary Paxton managed to combine all the genres successfully - and if you don't believe be, check out the man's own Two Hump Dual Bump Camel Named Robert E. Lee where Gary manages to reference his own classic Alley-Oop and its close cousin Ahab The Arab and yet still sound like he's on his way to the nearest Ford dealership to drool over the new line in Mustangs!
You don't have to be a surfer or racer to enjoy these 26 tracks of top-quality early 60s American Pop, Heck, you don't even have to like water or grease. At Gary Paxton's "Beach Party" anyone can get on board without actually getting on a board.
Welcome to the Village Of The Tanned!
by Tony Rounce
Your Boy On The Board!"