Sometimes, it’s difficult to find the right words that express just how much you care for that special someone in your life. This year, let Didi Wray’s guitar do the talking. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, the Santiago, Chile-based surf rock torchbearer offers an enchanting instrumental take on the Ramones’ classic crush song, “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.”
True to form, her cover clocks in at just under two minutes, rendering the Ramone’s most sentimental number in rose-colored hues of reverb and tremolo. Here, “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” drifts in a breeze of Didi meets Dee Dee, taking shape as a tender and campy redux that hones the Southern California surf influence underscoring the Ramones’ sound. It’s the often overlooked element that adds depth and texture to the brothers from Forest Hills’ signature rock ‘n’ roll blitzkrieg, and it’s brought to the front and center here. Press play and fall in love again!
Didi Wray was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but has spent much of the last decade living in Mexico, Brazil, and in Santiago, Chile, where she currently resides. Surf music and wild rock ‘n’ roll are coursing through her veins, and if her travels have revealed to her one universal truth about music it’s that the most powerful recordings harness the energy of everyone playing in the room together, feeling the energy, and sharing the moment. It’s the chemistry between players—the strength of the performance itself—that turns so much reverb, rhythm, and tremolo into the stuff of magic heard throughout her second album Misión Tango Surf.
The CD was released by Surf Cookie Records in 2019. Two years later, Augusta, GA’s Missing Fink Records has reissued the CD and pressed the songs onto vinyl with new cover art by Stephen Blickenstaff, who’s best known for creating the artwork for the Cramps’ Bad Music for Bad People LP. Misión Tango Surf harbors 13 cuts of traditional surf sounds and old-school rock ‘n’ roll played with taut authority and nimble dexterity. The album’s opening title cut moves at a measured, psychedelic pace, blending classic kerrang and reverb with Latin flourishes. Songs with titles such as “Amazonic Hully Gully” and “El Sombrero” find balance in subtle restraint weighed against the full-throttle tremolo picking of “Por Una Cabeza,” and “Terremoto Stomp!” When placed side-by-side here, each song carves out a smooth and cohesive body of instrumental jams.
All told, there are nearly 40 musicians and engineers dubbed Liga Americana del Surf coming in and out of the frey. It’s a fellowship featuring a survey of South American and Mexican musicians including members of Brazilian acts the Dead Rocks and the Pulltones; Chilean groups Los Kanibales Surf Combo, Sindicato Tango Surf, and Los Yawares; Peruvian group Los Protones; Estereofónikos from Argentina; and the Tango-Surf Combo from Mexico.
More guests are sprinkled throughout the album as well. “The Godfather of Mexican Surf” himself, Daddy O Grande of Los Straitjackets brings winding grooves to “Blue Tango” and “Cielito Lindo.” Fellow Los Straitjackets guitarist Gregorio El Grande amps up the pace in “Pisco Saico Twist.” Caleb “Sr. Ramírez” Franco of Lost Acapulco brings steel-string heat to the closing number “St. Katharina Twangwest.” Each of these players dutifully serve the unified, oceanic ambiance of Wray’s vision.
With so many players lending a hand, though, the most Herculean feat here is Wray’s ability to rein in such an impressive cavalcade, and focus on creating unfettered, uncluttered music. Misión Tango Surf pushes the heavily-mined waters of surf and rock ‘n’ roll to thrilling and mysterious new places, while bolstering her flair for Latin cadences and melodies, offering a little shoreline beach break for the hodads and the hardcore alike.
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My review of Missing Fink Records‘ Creature’s Surfin Shindig compilation LP is in this week’s Flagpole Magazine. It’s the culmination of the landlocked Augusta, GA label’s dedication to probing the outer limits of where rockabilly, punk and surf sounds collide with sci-fi cinema and monster movies from the 1950s.
There’s a ton of great stuff on this comp. Didi Wray, Fred Schneider and the Superions, Messer Chups, and more. Check it out at Flagpole!
Check out some new releases from Missing Fink Records on the Friday Night live stream, June 26. The label is spinning some new vinyl offerings from Zombierella, the Hurricanes, Silent Horror, and more. Tune in at 9 p.m., and keep your eyes and your ears peeled for some free giveaways.