our score: 3.5 out of 5.0
This collection is a steal: 96 minutes of instrumental
surf-rock, and all of it excellent. These performances were taken
mostly from four different radio shows; the first was in 1992,
the last in 1998, and I'll be damned if I hear any difference
between any of them. The Aqua Velvets know how to create drama
and wonder without saying a single word, and they do it in high
style. Their covers of "Walk Don't Run" and "Pipeline"
are iconic on these radio shows, but their own original stuff,
written by guitarist Miles Corbin, is wonderful too: "Swampabilly
Hop" is beachabilly madness, laid-back and edgy at the same
time, and I want "Gringo" playing the next time I walk
into a small village with guns at my hips and a score to settle.
Corbin also has a sense of humor about the kind
of music his band plays -- "Surf Nouveau" hints at a
B-52s influence, and "Nervous on Neptune" has some fun
with about six different riff rip-offs from Creedence. But this
is mostly just about how good a band can sound together. The rhythm
section of Michael Lindner and Donn Spindt is about as tight as
it can be, Spencer Chan's organ lines are graceful and crucial,
and the guitar interplay between Corbin and Hank Maninger recalls
-- dare I say it? -- the Ventures. If that's as good as they'll
ever get, then that's good enough for them.
There is a
bonus disc here, with non-radio show stuff, recorded in May 2001.
A lot of people are going to want this because of its cover of
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" done surf-style, but to tell
the truth it's kind of anemic. The real winner here is the seven-and-a-half-minute
"Green Sunshine"; this epic spans psychedelia, alt.country,
jangle pop, "classic rock," jam-band noodling, and (of
course) surf music. It's a great way to cap off this great record.
liked Radio Waves...
2. Diamond Head
3. Spanish Blue
5. Martini Time
6. Green Sunshine
9. Surf Nouveau
10. Holly Tiki
12. Swampabilly Hop
13. Nervous on Neptune
14. Walk Don't Run
16. Pipeline/Auld Lang Syne
1. Smell Like Teen Spirit
3. Spanish Blue
4. Green Sunshine