Prior to the early-to-mid-'60s British Invasion, the West Coast surf craze led the charge of innovative artists who were filling regional ballrooms and beaches and issuing as many 45s and LPs as the ravenous teen-driven market could handle. The comparatively small Del-Fi indie label was home to several of these acts, one of the most proficient were the Lively Ones
, an Orange County based quintet with Jim Masoner
(guitar), Ed Chiaverini
(guitar), Ron Griffith
(bass), Joel Willenbring
(sax), and Tim Fitzpatrick
(drums). By the time their debut LP, Surf Rider!
(1963), made it to store shelves in 1963, they had already issued a handful of singles, the most successful being a reworking of the Ventures
' deep LP cut "Spudnik," rechristened as "Surf Rider." Although it made little impact nationally, the catchy tune and beguiling beat became a local smash, prompting Del-Fi to compile an album's worth of material with previously available sides, a few new originals, as well as some songs that would have been familiar to the audience. During an era marked by a plethora of nominally talented and ersatz sound-alike cover bands, in retrospect the Lively Ones
' music remains noteworthy for their strong self-penned numbers. Among those highlights are the bouncy mid-tempo "Happy Gremmie," the driving rhythm behind "Walkin' the Board," and above all the gritty "Goofy Foot." As was customary, they also retooled and personalized concurrently popular melodies, including obligatory interpretations of Dick Dale
's "Misirlou," "Let's Go Trippin'," and the solid opener "Surf Beat." Buoyed by incisive interplay between Masoner
, other standouts are "Guitar Man" -- a Top 20 hit for Duane Eddy
-- and the darkly brooding "Caterpillar Crawl." [In 2004 The Surf Rider!
was coupled with the Lively Ones
' subsequent full-length effort, Surf Drums
(1963), onto CD by Collectors' Choice Music.]