With the enormous success of the new James Bond film, Skyfall, we are reminded that the original Bond theme was most definitely in the surf mode. Surf-Age Nuggets includes a “James Bond Trailer,” followed by the song “.007” (1965) by The Twilights. The Batman TV show was also very popular at the time. While Neil Hefti’s theme for the program is not included, we do get the wild “Batman (Freefalling)” (1965) by a group called the 4 of Us. There is also the interestingly spelled “BaTmoBILE” (1966) by The Squires. 1966 is the cut-off year for the set, and another very interesting tune from that year is “Tarantula” from a group calling themselves The Elite UFO.
Although the vast majority the groups on Surf-Age Nuggets are quite obscure, there are a few well-known artists included. Dick Dale & His Deltones make an appearance with “Jungle Fever“ (1962). You may remember the Bobby Fuller Four, who had a big hit with “I Fought the Law” in 1966. Before the Four though, Bobby Fuller recorded solo, and his “Stringer” (1963) is on the set.
Surf-Age Nuggets was obviously a labor of love for James Austin, although I imagine that tracking down all of these songs was quite a task. It is intended as a companion to the excellent (and long out of print) Rhino Records box set Cowabunga! The Surf Box, which he co-produced with Jon Blair in 1996. The Rhino collection was awesome, and contained many well-known surf songs such as “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris, and “Surfin‘ Bird“ by The Trashmen.
For the most part, Surf-Age Nuggets contains undiscovered gems that evoke a time and a place that is now simply a part of history. It is definitely one of the finest collections of this sort I have seen though. In closing, allow me the indulgence of flipping the title of a great tune from The Ventures, “Walk, Don’t Run.” In regards to Surf-Age Nuggets, I suggest that you “run, don’t walk” to your local record shop to get it.