Supersonic Guitars In 3-D
Los Straitjackets are the second-best instrumental group in the world, only because crown-bearers the Ventures — well into their sixth decade — refuse to quit rockin’. Besides a great deal of talent and a reverence for rock history, the key to Los Straitjackets’ success is the will and the ability to mix things up a bit, as evidenced by their daringly fabulous guest-vocal disc, Sing Along With… With their new release, Supersonic Guitars in 3-D, the masked marvels once again demonstrate that, like the Ventures, they’re much more than a surf band. But the call of the big waves is irresistible…
Supersonic Guitars begins with the frenetic bumblebee drone of “Squid,” before launching the listener on the rest of this guitar joyride. Billy Zoom contributes some Farfisa-echoing flute on a semi-tribute to the Standells, the grinding “Giggle Water”; Zoom’s X bandmate DJ Bonebrake lends some nifty vibraphone to the slinky, martini-lounge feel of “Jungleaya.” “Isn’t Love Grand?,” one of the most irresistible tracks on the disc, might just as well have been an old Shadows tune, with great, chiming guitar melodies. Zoom adds some swooning sax to “Can You Dig It,” another track reminiscent of the Shadows’ catalogue of obscure movie themes. Speaking of movie themes, guitarists Eddie Angel and Danny Amis try some Ennio Morricone spaghetti in the surf-roots “Midnight In Salerno,” take a journey to the stars with the relentless sci-fi number “Galaxy Drive” and add some creepy sound effects (and Jon Spencer’s Theremin) to their fuzzy axes on “Tarantula.” Supersonic Guitars’ best track has to be “San Diego Shutdown,” featuring Zoom as Boots Randolph and Angel as Duane Eddy — as well as Jimmy Lester’s rumbling drums — in an epic guitar-sax tale of dragstrips and pipelines. However, everything on this record (produced by SoCal god Mark Neill), from the mean bump-and-grind of “Time Bomb” to the tremolo-washed nod to Santo & Johnny, “Dreamland,” is absolutely superb. 1963 never sounded better. Oh, and the cover art is in 3-D, with glasses included (hence the name). But don’t misinterpret Los Straitjackets’ many gimmicks — this quartet certainly doesn’t need them.
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