Historical Revisionism and the Surf Aesthetic: Part One

Lets begin with an IQ test.

What were the seminal events of the 1960s?

1. JFKs (aka The Haircut, 60 Second Jack for James Ellroy fans) inauguaral speech in January 20 1961:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

2. The photos of US troops landing at Da Nang (shades of Mogadishu), South Vietnam in 1965, the first of (some 40 plus) imperial ventures to be reported as a visual television event.


3. The first man on the moon.

The Canned Heat version

The Canned Heat version

4 How about Charlie Manson and/or The Stones when they croaked the Sixties Dream at Altamont Speedway?

Okay, so I cheated, since the seminal event of this watershed epoch was the invention of this contraption.

Farfisa organ manufactured in Osimo, Italy.

Farfisa organ manufactured in Osimo, Italy.

Now, if you were the last member to join your local garage band and really hoped to pull hot babes after the gig, chances are that you got the following instruction: “go buy a Farfisa and perfect the two hand-two finger technique of playing a simple melody, and if you can play in time, you’ve joined the band”.
However, this wasn’t the complete story, since there were other intructions.
Your were told to be well dressed, even if the drummer looked like an escapee from a hog farm. Furthermore, there were those choreography instructions. Remain relatively immobile, no fucking jumping round, since all posturing, scowling and stage leering was the sole property of the singer and guitarist. With the exception of Sly Stone, these simple advices to organ players persist to this day.

Technology is nothing without human imput, namely Bobby, the Franks and Roberto aka Question Mark and the Mysterians.

96 Tears exemplifies my above remarks as well as being one of the seminal moments in the formation of Garage Band Culture, not to forget a royality stream to die for.
The Young Rascals were brilliant understudies with organ melody lines which set the bar, until the appearance of Prog Rock in the late Sixties, when the whole organ sound turned to shit. (See my negative views on Prog Rock via Musicology (One Of Three) – archived 19.6.2012).

There is no logical leap here, but I’m concluding with some Japanese surf tracks which recently caught my attention.
We have already noted that Japan embraced the surf band sound soon after The Ventures toured in 1962 and 1965.
Love the classic two finger melody line in this 1967 track by Takesha Teriuche and the Bunnys.

Terry meets the fan club.

Despite its industrial transformation since WW11, Japan remains very much a traditional society, so it isn’t surprising that the Japanese surf twang persists into this new century.
Chicche covering Pipeline in 2005

A few years later, Chicchi as a teenager. Note the classic organ players stance left side… neatly dressed, little body movement etc.

Now, if you’ve followed this nonsense thus far, you will also have noted that Ms Chicchi plays a Mosrite, so she is not a complete traditionalist as most surf reverb artists rely upon Fenders: Strats, Jaguars and Jazzmasters, and here I refer you to the highly specialised site SurfGuitars101.com and this particular post which gives you all the technical information you need to form your own band.

Look, if I continue in this vein, I’ll need counselling.

And, a warm welcome to the recent Japanese readers.


6 Responses to “Historical Revisionism and the Surf Aesthetic: Part One”

  1. jsfb Says:

    Esteemed KT: I am stoked.
    The post is pure genius and you have impeccable taste in music. I would also add “The El Caminos”, “The Surf Coasters”, “The 5,6,7,8’s”… and continue on with the relationship of historical revisionism to “Kill Bill” and its portrayal of Chinese stereotypes.
    If you go deep enough maybe you could inspire a Fenqing campaign against Quentin Tarantino… That would be rad.

    Dummo Arigato Gozaimasu.

  2. kingtubby1 Says:

    Glad someone got a spark out of my musical lunacy.
    Yes, it was a toss of a coin whether to include The Surf Coasters and I do have a soft spot for Kill Bill 2.

    Recall the scene with the sheriff driving to the blood bath – all those raybans on the car dash – Charlie Feathers playing in the background, – well, the next is on rockabilly. And again, the Land of the Rising Son has a rockabilly scene.

    Your preview jsfb

    Cheers, and any Nipponese links I should know about, pls advice.

  3. jsfb Says:

    KT, two words: Guitar Wolf.

    Or should I say Guital Worf 🙂 ? You have to see them live. I will start being hopeful about the middle kingdom sub-culture when I see something as visceral as guitar wolf out of Beijing or Shanghai. Maybe I have missed it all of these years. If you have any pointers I’d appreciate it.

    PS: I take it that as an eclectic connoisseur you know that:
    1) The 5,6,7,8’s had a cameo in Kill Bill Vol. 1, where the blonde “bride” slaughtered 88 “Japanese” yakuza and ultimately the Chinese katana wielding chick.
    2) Daikaiju are really from Alabama USA – post-modern cultural cross-pollination does not get any stranger than that (uhm well maybe Gangnam Style is a recent example but perhaps too mainstream to qualify)

    PS2: Since it seems to me that you are posting from down under and this is stream of consciousness, I should mention that I just got an urge to listen to Radio Birdman’s “Aloha Steve and Danno”.

    And no, you don’t need any counseling. Cheers.

  4. kingtubby1 Says:

    jsfb. Thanks.
    Little Wolf. Aw, the old amp climb and jump
    PS1. Sure
    PS2. That one knocked me sideways.
    Radio Birdman. Still got an old cassette sitting in a box behind me.

    Did quite a bit of net search on the Beijing underground….Michael Pettis etc, and god, the bands were beyond fucking awful….amp screech and posturing is just not my thing. Looked like the CBGB 30 years later minus talent.

    What are your musical interest areas…..my email kingtubbyblog@gmail.com

    I want to move my site towards serious Asian surfing matters, but have hit a brick wall in terms of moving beyond bower birding through know sites.


  5. jsfb Says:

    I return to this thread more than a month later to submit the only Chinese punk song I I have ever liked.

    But this is is only one song and admittedly it is far from a knockout, but still there is hope..

    I enjoyed your rockabilly posts by the way… Brought back associations:
    1) A few keywords on transcending musical boundaries. in the
    post 50’s era. Planet Rockers, Sonny George, Eddie Angel,
    Los Straighjackets, Big Sandy seem to be carrying the torch..

    2) Kimchibili => takenoko zoku :-)..


  6. kingtubby1 Says:


    Thanks for the kind words and I shall check out your recommendations.
    You are probably the only person who read the rockabilly three. I thought I was hiccupping and yelping to an empty theatre, but Johnny Burnette knocks me out.
    Oh hell, I scribble about things that enthuse me, and when people respond that’s a real bonus.
    At the mo, I forcing myself to complete three on post WW11 Japan and just had to call in the herb to provide velocity.
    Lost the capacity to scribble with loud music behind me though.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: