Psycho Beach Party
Unforscene / Nettwerk Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/20/2001
Dick Dale is alive and well... and the spirit of his beach-party-from-hell music has turned into a movie about - well, a beach party from hell.
Psycho Beach Party is a soundtrack that will surprise you in just how kitschy and catchy it is. Almost having a Tex-Mex flavor, the score that was created by Ben Vaughn sounds like it could have been lifted from any movie in the '60s. He has captured the essence of the genre well - and could be in line to become one of the next kings of this style of music.
He'll have some tough competition, judging from the selection of guest artists who appear on this soundtrack. (Did this film ever make it to America?) Los Straitjackets seem to have the throne well in hand, turning in two absolutely stunning performances, "Tailspin" and "Tempest". But even Los Straitjackets have to fend off the musical power of such groups as The Halibuts ("Night Crawler"), The Fathoms ("Overboard") and Four Piece Suit ("Bombasteroid"). You might never have heard of these groups, but after just one listen to Psycho Beach Party, you'll want to hear more.
Of course, something needs to serve as the glue that holds these performances together - and Vaughn's score is just that. Admittedly, the score doesn't serve the purpose of shaping the action of the movie (it's hard to be sad when you're playing surf music), but tracks such as "Chicklet Wipes Out," "Mournful Surfers" and "Neenie's Famous Weenies" are so infectious, you don't much care.
Psycho Beach Party is so well packaged, it could easily stand on its own just as a collection of surf music to put on the stereo on a cold winter day. I happened to be freezing my ass off in the Pierce Memorial Archives before I slapped this disc in the player. The next thing I knew, I was dangling my feet in the surf - okay, it was the bathtub, gimme a break - and lounging in my chair (the less you think about that, the better), a margarita in my hand and zinc oxide on my nose. (At least, I think it was zinc oxide; later in the day, I saw a tube of Pepsodent on the sink.) This is the kind of music that helps to warm the blood, making almost any winter day more bearable.
Even if you've never seen the movie, Psycho Beach Party is a wonderful assortment of tunes that helps to remind people that surf music is not dead - and is still as enjoyable in today's form as it was back in the '60s.
2001 Christopher Thelen and "The Daily Vault". All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Unforscene / Nettwerk Records, and is used for informational purposes only.