Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Fantastic Baggys - Tell'em I'm Surfin (1964)

Although packaged and promoted as a bona fide group, the Fantastic Baggys were actually an L.A. studio project by the duo of P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri. Sloan and Barri wrote many first-rate (and second-rate) pop-rock and folk-rock tunes in the mid-1960s, but were at this point, as evidenced by the name of the group, doing surf and hot rod material. 

The similarity of the Fantastic Baggys material to Jan and Dean in particular should come as no surprise, since Sloan and Barri not only wrote some songs for Jan and Dean, but also did some vocals on Jan and Dean records of the era. The Fantastic Baggys did one album for Imperial in 1964, Tell 'Em I'm Surfin', as well as three singles in 1964 and 1965 (which included three non-LP songs); there were also a couple of Fantastic Baggys albums issued in South Africa. (Although there were four Fantastic Baggys pictured on the sleeve of Tell 'Em I'm Surfin', the two other guys were just friends who were not on the records.) The album, in both songwriting and performance, was a pretty close but ultimately derivative and inferior facsimile of circa 1964 Jan and Dean and (more distantly) Beach Boys records. The Fantastic Baggys stopped making records in 1965, when the surf faded and Sloan and Barri were more interested in writing and singing more serious and sophisticated material.

Phil ‘PF’ Sloan (falsetto, alto and bass vocals, guitar)
Steve Barri (tenor harmony, percussion)
 Hal Blaine (drums)
Tommy Tedesco (guitar)
Glen Campbell (guitar)
Ray Pohlman (bass)
Leon Russell (keyboards)

Tell'em I'm Surfin (1964)

The Fantastic Baggys' sole American album release sounded like a missing Jan & Dean LP. It's passable surf and hot rod music, but it would be foolish to pretend it's very original. You can hear blatant echoes of the Beach Boys throughout, whether it's passages that sound close to "Surfin' U.S.A." ("Surfin' Craze") or Brian Wilson ballads like "The Lonely Sea," "Catch a Wave," and "Little Deuce Coupe." It's superficial, sure, but it's pleasant, hitting its highwater marks on "Summer Means Fun" (which Jan & Dean recorded themselves) and the unexpected descending chord hook on the chorus of "Surfin' Craze.
1. The Fantastic Baggys - Tell 'Em I'm Surfin' (2:07)
2. The Fantastic Baggys - Let's Make The Most of Summer (2:03)
3. The Fantastic Baggys - Surfin' Craze (2:13)
4. The Fantastic Baggys - Big Gun Board (2:32)
5. The Fantastic Baggys - Alone On The Beach [Imperial 66092] (2:12)
6. This Little Woody
7. A Surfer Boy's Dream Come True
8. When Surfers Rule
9. Wax Up Your Board
10.Summer Means Fun
11.Surfin's Back Again Surf Impersonations

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