Friday, August 05, 2005
The Persuaders: Grunion Run/Tijuana Surf (Original Sound OS-39)
From the Paul Buff solo 45 we had just a few entries ago, we now go to one of Buff's collaborations with Frank Zappa in his early years. This 1963 45, released on Art Laboe's Original Sound label, came a few years before the formation of The Mothers of Invention. Like duhhhh, right? Anyway, Zappa fans have always known what a virtuoso he was on the guitar. Well, if "Grunion Run" isn't the first time he showed off his guitar prowess, it certainly must be one of the earliest. Over a stroll beat with blasting saxes, Zappa simply wails away all over the 2:20 minutes of the tune. Not only that, it becomes clear he used a fuzztone, which must also clarify this as one of the earliest uses of fuzztone in a rock recording. (It's beat by a year by Ann-Margaret's "I Just Don't Understand.") Need I say it's a killer instro? Sadly, if the idea of Zappa rockin' out on a surf instrumental sounds intriguing to you, "Tijuana Surf" is going to seriously disappoint. It's a Paul Buff composition in which the sax and the keys are the main instrument. And no guitar is present anywhere on the track. None. Instead it's just a typical poppy 60s instrumental, nothing all that special. If it's wailin' guitar you're seeking, stick with "Grunion Run."
This 45 was also released as by The Hollywood Persuaders. The following year, that Buff-produced studio concoction would have a minor hit with "Drums-A-Go-Go." Buff also sold the studio he and Zappa had built and worked to Zappa. The "Freak Out" album would appear in 1966 and we all know the rest.