Agony Shorthand

Monday, March 24, 2003
TRASHMEN "SURFIN' BIRD"....After year of worshipping the title track like everyone else, I looked around the house & realized I didn't even own any TRASHMEN records save for "Surfin' Bird" on a couple of Cramps-related comps. Well, I set out to rectify the matter and came up with this CD of the 1964 debut record. Old news, I'm sure, but the Sundazed CD version I picked up comes with four extra tracks: a demo version of "Surfin' Bird", another demo of the obligatory take-advantage-of-the-craze follow-up "Bird Dance Beat" (which absolutely rules), a mediocre 45 called "Walkin' My Baby" and a skipable Xmas song called "Dancin' With Santa". The guy with the horrid croak that made "Surfin' Bird" such an amazing track? He's like the secret weapon that gets brought out to rock the house -- he's barely on any other tracks here. The rest is party-time, fun-in-the-sun surf and frat rock, with very pleasant vocals and a learning-to-play style of guitar (comparing their version of "Miserlou" to listening to, say, Dick Dale, rip it up is quite a humbling experience). For many, this record is the apotheosis of musical genius. For the rest of us, it's a good time rock and roll dance record with one or two godlike numbers.