Life on the Bottom, Upstart Records CD 033, 1996
What we have here is a failure to communicate. I jumped at the chance to review
The Halibuts Life at the Bottom because it was surf music.
My (much more clued-in) partner bought me a Dick Dale album after I expressed
interest in the sound track to Pulp Fiction. Then came the last
cut on Junior Browns Semi Crazy. After those two I was
But Life on the Bottom isnt at home in that company.
Its strangely distant. At first I thought it was the cheap rig I use at
work that made the guitarist sound as if hed been forced to play in
another room, and playing it on a real stereo did help. But, Dick Dales
"Miserlou" on a cheap eight-track can add fifteen m.p.h. hour onto
any speeding ticket, plus the temptation to rip it up in front of the cop.
Compare that to "Suicide Bay" on this album and youll see what
Im getting at. The musicians seem skilled, the mix professional, but this
is clearly music played by nice boys. She who shares my bliss, who still
cant wear clothes with shoulder pads because she spent too much time
paddling out, says its background music. Shes right. This is good
music to write marketing plans by, not to pretend that youre wild, young
and capable of anything.
So skip it. Get some original Dick Dale (like The Best of Dick Dale
& his Del Tones on Rhino,) or go post-modern like the Mermen. Then if
youre completely hooked, and you need all that great surf feel without
all the angst, you can pick up Life on the Bottom
later. Gregg Brown