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Dick Dale - Guitar Legend: The Very Best Of (Shout! Factory)

Dick Dale - Guitar Legend: The Very Best Of (Shout! Factory)
17 January 2011

Fifty-five years is a hell of a long career (albeit with several long breaks for serious illness and injury), but few have earned it more richly than Dale; not only because he is one of the greatest, most distinctive lead guitarists in history (an admitted influence on the openly admiring Jimi Hendrix, even), but because along with The Ventures, he was also the prime pioneer and exponent of an entire genre that is still beloved so many years later. To illustrate how long he’s been vital, Dale & his Del-Tones were already a big attraction in the late ‘50s playing this surf music before the youngest Beach Boys and Jan & Dean popularized the sport in more lyrical song, and before a host of early ‘60s groups followed in Dale’s and the Ventures’ original instrumental blueprints, such as The Pyramids, The Chantays (whose incredible 1963 #4 “Pipeline” Dale covered, included here), The Sufaris (“Wipeout”), and Davy Allen & the Arrows, helping to turn an L.A. phenomenon into a national pop craze. (That Dale himself was a surfer, unlike many in the above list of bands, is significant as well.) Interestingly, Dale’s recent tours shows he still lacks for none of his original style and execution, filled with his initial experimentations with reverb, non-western raga scales, and staccato picking that ended up defining surf guitar playing for half a century now. And though this writer prefers to recommend original albums by the greats rather than the usual cop-out of best-of collections (if you do, want to go beyond this, try 1963’s King of the Surf Guitar and Checkered Flag , both for Capitol), this 16-song outing (13 oldies and three recordings of more modern vintage) can serve as effective introduction for those thrilling to Dale’s reworking of the 1920’s Greek song “Miserlou” (one of the most memorable movie-opening tunes ever, when the 1962 hit led off 1986’s Pulp Fiction ) or 1961 landmark “Let’s Go Trippin’,” or otherwise need to understand all this red hot picker has given or meant. And go see him while we still have him. Even at age 73, the man can still flat out play! (