Challengers, Killer Surf: The Best of the Challengers

Don Waller

By Don Waller

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Killer Surf: The Best of the Challengers


Led by drummer Richard Delvy — like guitarists Eddie Bertrand (Eddie & The Showmen) and Paul Johnson, a former member of seminal South Bay surf-band the Bel-Airs of "Mr. Moto" fame — the Challengers released nine LPs between 1963 and 1965, whose highlights are collected here. While locals may remember them as the house band for KHJ-TV's weekly half-hour Surf's Up show, where they provided instrumental backing to surf films, Delvy is better known for his business acumen, recruiting top sessionmen such as drummer Hal Blaine to play on the Challengers 'discs, which feature polite, slightly rearranged versions of virtually every hit instro from the period, including their own "K-39." (The cryptic title refers to a famous Baja California surf spot.) At worst, these sound like something you'd hear during the inevitable "party scenes" in '60s films. At best, they're simple twang-fests reminiscent of the Ventures or English instrumental legends the Shadows.