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Dick Dale - Tribal Thunder/Unknown Territory

  by Lisa Torem

published: 18 / 3 / 2012

Dick Dale - Tribal Thunder/Unknown Territory
Label: Retroworld
Format: CD


Explosive surf rock on splendid double CD reissue of influential guitarist Dick Dale's 1993 and 1994 albums, 'Tribal Thunder' and 'Unknown Territory'

His first album was 'Surfer’s Choice' in 1962 and by the time his second album was released a year later he had become an icon. Therefore that album was called 'The King of the Surf Guitar'. He was befriended by the legendary Leo Fender, who would routinely watch Boston-born Dick Dale blow out amps night after night. He was a left-handed guitarist who was known for using heavy gauge strings and even playing the instrument in an unorthodox way, but his signature sound was stupendous partially due to his staccato picking and explosive runs. Dale’s ancestors were Belarusian, Polish and Lebanese, so growing up in a multi-cultural universe may have greatly influenced his choice of scale tones. Though the first leg of his career came to a halt during the British Invasion, he has kept performing live and recording, despite setbacks with cancer. His work was featured on the soundtrack to 'Pulp Fiction' in 1994 when his brand of surf music got revived. Now he’s back with a double disc reissue of his 1993 album, 'Tribal Thunder' and his 1994 album, 'Unknown Territory'. The first 'Tribal Thunder' track, ‘Nitro’, is a frenzied ride. His electric throbs like the snapping jaws of a crocodile. ‘The New Victor’ continues the high-octane assault but adds some saucy modal tones. ‘Esperanza’ has a festive sensuality. ‘Shredded Heat’ is a pop tornado with an absolutely killer hook. ‘Trail of Tears’ has hefty percussion and, though it is not as full of pyrotechnics as the former tunes, its skeletal melody is beautiful. A fantastic retelling of the American classic, ‘Caravan’, follows. Dale strolls high up the fret board here, but leaves plenty of room for the sexy skins. The contagious dance tune, ‘The Eliminator’ follows suit. ‘Speardance’ underscores Dale’s clever modulations. The Hot Links medley and some raw vocals follow, but the disc ends dynamically with the famed ‘Miserlou’, a traditional folk song – though it’s anything but traditional here. Dale jams flourish after flourish in between the notes of the haunting melody. 'Unknown Territory' is equally feverish. ‘Scalped’ is another wild ride. In ‘Mexico’ the skittish runs merge with the south of the border sensuality. ‘F Groove’ is sheer fun and features Huey Lewis on blues harp. (You’ll also hear him again on ‘Ghostriders in the Sky’…) ‘Terra Dicktyl’ finds bassist Ron Eglit fully engaged. ‘Ghostriders in the Sky’ is bold, rich and builds compellingly. ‘Fish Taco’ is one of the most imaginative of the brood, only matched by the embracing riff of ‘California Sun’. ‘Maria Elena’ is stately and melodic and a good resting point before the sizzling 'Hava Nagila'. Be prepared for plenty of tribal chanting thoughout. ‘Unknown Territory’ pays tribute to the Spanish classic, ‘Malaguena’. The cover of ‘Ring of Fire’ (Merle Kilgore/June Carter) is definitely incendiary. You can imagine Dale, back in the day, blowing an amp out during this one as a shocked Leo Fender foots the bill. Dick Dale is a one-of-a kind artist. These two discs will certainly please collectors of the surf genre and leave us wondering how one man could pull so much sound and texture out of six normal strings, heavy gauge or otherwise.

Track Listing:-
1 Nitro
2 The New Victor
3 Esperanza
4 Shredded Heat
5 Trail Of Tears
6 Caravan
7 The Eliminator
8 Speardance
9 Hot Links Caterpillar Crawl
10 Hot Links Rumble
11 The Long Ride
12 Tribal Thunder
13 Scalped
14 Mexico
15 F Groove
16 Terra Dickity
17 Take It Or Leave It
18 Ghost Riders In The Sky
19 Fish Taco
20 California Sun
21 Marie Elena
22 Hava Naglia
23 The Beast
24 Unknown Territory
25 Ring Of Fire

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