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MP3 The Surf Cowboys (USA) - Collection (1984-1986)

The only original "Surfabilly" band in the world.

15 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Surf Rock, ROCK: Rockabilly

This band, "The Surf Cowboys (USA)", are in no way affiliated with the other "Surf Cowboys" also listed on this service.

Tim Otto has had his own story in the music business, going back to his alliance with Norman Petty (the man who discovered Buddy Holly and co-wrote many of his early songs). Petty, whose untimely death cut short Tim''s ambitions to become the next Buddy Holly, recorded three of Tim''s songs in his auditorium/studio in Clovis, New Mexico. But after his death, the tape could not be located.

After Petty''s death, Tim came to Portland, forming the Surf Cowboys shortly after his arrival. The band was, for the most part, a quartet with Otto in the role of frontman singer/songwriter, rhythm guitarist, while lead guitarist Greg Paul, who later went on to play with Sing Sing Sleepwalker in the later ''80s, and the Speedin Ferlinghettis in the ''90s, bassist Chris Charles and drummer Brad Pharis were his backup band.

These recordings were culled from the three year lifespan of the band, over which time there were some personnel changes in the lead guitar and drum positions. But, as many of the fifteen songs collected here clearly attest, Otto was the centerpiece of the Surf Cowboys. His odd, idyllic vision of the "Surf" motif, was clearly influenced by Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, whereas the "Cowboy" aspect seemed more a product of the Eagles'' "Desperado" character. Together, the two images proved to be a fertile source for material.

What is really surprising is how fresh and clean these recordings sound, nearly twenty years after their conception. The songs are fun and well performed. "Rattlesnake Whip" slithers on a snakey riff, while the rhythm section holds down a pulsating beat. "Shoulda Run Away" and "Don''t Doubt My Love" Bad Dream" and "Asking Too Much" are pure Holly, the latter a good-natured plea for the good life "Hang out with the duke, make love with the duchess/Swing on chandeliers, hey hey with the monkeys/Take a movie star for my wife/ I could be happy for the rest of my life."

A powerful change of pace is "Jaguar" a Reggae upstroke inflected piece of molten rock, somewhat reminiscent of Elvis Costello''s "Watching The Detectives." "Dizzy Little Rich Girl" takes it''s musical cues from Devo and Gary Numan ("Cars"), with Julie Nunez'' elemental Farfisa lines. The desperado/Armageddon number "Final Showdown" has more political pertinence today than it had in those Reagan-era days of Iran and Contra battles.

Tim Otto and the Surf Cowboys were a good band in their day, playing on bills with all of Portland''s finest Pop bands. This album affirms that the band was no fluke. Their songs are catchy, if for the most part a little light; and ultimately true to the spirit of the music of their time. A fun walk down memory lane.

- S.P. Clarke
Two Louies Magazine

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