JERRY COLE and HIS SPACEMEN – Surf Age (Vinyl Rip!)

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Jerry Cole was a first-rank studio guitarist who, like many members of the Wrecking Crew, cut a few instrumental albums under his own name during the 1960s when he wasn’t busy playing hot licks on other folks’ records. Cole’s 1964 LP Surf Age featured a dozen wordless rock tunes in which he laid out some impressive twangy leads over rather generic-sounding melodies, with a tight rhythm section behind him (Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer both played drums on these dates) and some honking sax thrown in for good measure (courtesy of Steve Douglas). Cole and co-producer Jim Economides wrote all the songs on this set, which tend not to have a lot of personality of their own (and “Racing Waves” bears a curious resemblance to Lonnie Mack’s “Wham”), but this isn’t an album about songcraft — this is a blowing session where a bunch of talented studio cats have some fun knocking out rock & roll that’s polished and frantic at the same time, and on that score, this album delivers the goods. Cole’s guitar work lacks the feral intensity of Dick Dale, but he’s an agile picker and his tone choices are excellent, ranging from the bright cleanliness of the title track to the reverb-soaked “Deep Surf” and the raunchy fuzz on “One Color Blues.” And this album is a testament to the effortless skill and enthusiasm of the great Los Angeles session players of the ’60s, who could knock out records this good as easily as some kid at McDonald’s flips a hamburger. If you dig vintage surf sounds or classic-era instrumental rock, then Surf Age is right up your alley. [Mark Deming]

Vinyl rip from Sundazed vinyl reissue in Surfadelic <360> stereo. Check it out!

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