Monday, September 6, 2010

New Wave for the New Week #82

It's Labor Day, kids.  Last night, temps around here dropped into the 50s (beautiful sleeping weather if you ask me).  The local rugrats are all either back in school or headed back this week.  It all means summer is just about over. Not complaining much about that this year - far too many days over 90ยบ  and 90% humidity for my liking - but it's always sorta sad to see the summer end. So, before the cool breezes turn to jacket weather, how about one more bit of summery fun, in the form of this week's NW4NW?

And what better band to fit the bill than Malibu's own The Surf Punks? The band originally came together in 1976, with a pair of celebrity-related surf-n-sand enthusiasts at the core: Dennis Dragon (brother of Daryl Dragon, better known as "The Captain" of The Captain and Tennille) and Drew Steele (son of Gavin McLeod, better known as Captain Stubing of The Love Boat) began writing and recording in a little garage-based studio across the street from Zuma Beach.  John Heussenstamm and John Hunt rounded out the band, with the late Scott Goddard lending occasional vocals.

They were goofy, wickedly funny, and made great music. Their songs covered the topics they knew and loved best: surfing, tanning, drinking beer and chasing girls. Their incredibly awesome debut album, My Beach (1980), contains classics like "My Beach," "My Wave," "Beer Can Beach," "Teenage Girls," "Big Top," and "Punch Out at Malibu." Deep, intellectual stuff it's not.  But it is the perfect soundtrack to summertime on the beach.  With a sound falling somewhere between The Beach Boys and The B-52s with a strong seasoning of LA Punk Rock and Jeff Spicolli attitude, The Surf Punks were the musical equivalent of the rock-n-roll/T&A movies that used to be shown late nights on the USA Network in the early '80s. The whole thing seemed like it was going to be a one-and-done novelty act record.  Only problem was, someone forgot to to tell that to the band or their fans.

The Surf Punks actually found enough depth in the shallow waters they were surfing to release another collection of songs about surfing, beer and girls in bikinis.  Locals Only was released in 1982 and found a fan base eager for more of this stuff.  Not quite as consistently sharp or funny as the debut, it does have its moments - notably the title track.

After disappearing for a few years, The Surf Punks reappeared on record store shelves in 1988 with Oh No, Not Them Again! and, later in the year, Party Bomb.  They were still mining the same lyrical and musical veins, but the joke was finally wearing thin.  They were now basically a parody of themselves, which is a doubly bad thing when your band was built on the edges of self-parody in the first place.

Nonetheless, those first two albums  remain essential summer listening material.  So, as the summer of 2010 comes to close, we celebrate The Surf Punks in all their glory with two picks: first up, a clip of them performing "My Beach" taken from the movie Urgh! A Music War; after that, an audio-only clip for the second LP's title cut, "Locals Only." Enjoy!