Listen: The Lonely Surfer / Jack Nitzsche
The Lonely Surfer / Jack Nitzsche
Somewhere in this collection a US copy of ‘The Lonely Surfer’ lurks. Must have taken it out to dj with, because my recollection of it sounding huge and rather scary through the sound system at Brooklyn Bowl is quite vivid.
The sport of surfing was not big in the UK, nor was the musical genre, unsurprisingly. Given that UK pressings of surf singles are thin on the ground, finding this Jack Nitzsche 7″ in a tattered box of 45′s on a freezing October morning along the Portobello Road market indeed felt quite the anomaly.
Jack himself, well he was so entrenched in LA’s recording scene during the early 60′s that coining the ultimate surf anthem isn’t really a shocker. His many credits often included arrangements, something no one really does these days, not exclusively and certainly not for money. The guy kept a lot of plates in the air, working with Phil Spector at Philles, organizing THE TAMI SHOW, taking Doris Day to #1 in the pop charts, arranging for The Rolling Stones when they were at the RCA studios and managing to keep up a solo career on Reprise. There alone his array of releases included Chopin style renditions of then current pop hits to, well, surf anthems like ‘The Lonely Surfer’.
Having arranged and orchestrated Ike & Tina Turner’s ‘River Deep – Mountain High’ would be a pretty daunting accomplishment for anyone to top, but in many ways that’s exactly what he does on ‘The Lonely Surfer’. From the title to the eerie horns, he’s captured a dark and alarming side of the supposedly sunshine and fun theme. Sorry but this record has always reminded me of seedy old Hollywood, the unsolved Bobby Fuller murder and Sal Mineo’s as well.
By the way, ever noticed that some of the best surf records have the most unhappy horn bits on them.