Friday, January 8, 2016

Crazy Aces "Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go" CD review

Review by Noel Squitieri, taken from
What do you do if you’re a quartet of Nashville Cats who like to play music for the sheer fun of it? You might just play more country music. It sometimes seems like it’s what everyone does in Nashville. But what if you want to create and play something else, something completely different, just for the sheer pleasure of playing joyful, catchy, fun music? You might be a Crazy Ace. And what if you wanted to make a record that conveyed the fun you have playing the music you create and perform? You might record Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go by Crazy Aces. So they did!

Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go is the follow-up to their first record, Crazy Aces - Greatest Hits Volume 2. Recorded in a home studio, it replaces the Hi-Fi sound of their first record with something aiming to recreate their live sound while, according to Jeff Senn, also “… hinting strongly toward some classic first wave Surf, ‘60’s Abbey Road, classic psychedelia, and Go-Go sounds.” So… what’s it all sound like?

Thrown Away
I don’t know what was thrown away, but I’m glad this song wasn’t it. It’s got what is almost becoming a signature Crazy Aces sound - a series of distinct short melodic phrases with a variety of catchy beats and orchestrations that repeat until it suddenly ends with a humorous phrase that caught me by surprise the first time, and for which I waited with anticipation on subsequent listens. This is fun music for the sake of being fun music. It is fun, and I like it.

This is one of my favorite songs on the record. It reminds me of sixty’s British television spy programs like The Prisoner and The Avengers for some reason. I always like anything that reminds me of those wonderful series. It could be music from an unaired episode of either of those series or a theme song for a pilot of an unproduced program. In my opinion, Kiko is pretty bella.

Big Dog
This starts out as one of the most traditional surf songs on the record, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. The song has swagger and a great beat to go with the fantastic tone of the lead guitar. The melody is something that could be spaghetti, but other elements turn the overall effect into something else entirely, something modern - car-chase, not horse-chase, and that tone at the end straight out of The Outer Limits isn’t remotely Nineteenth Century. Very, very cool!

Rain For Sunday
This is probably going to become my favorite song on the entire record. I like it that much. And it’s that good. I’m just a sucker for a lovely melody and the song’s exotic elements that recall island getaways. The song creates a vivid image of a small cottage on a deserted beach, rain quietly falling so we stay inside and dance to the sound of the rain falling on the roof and palm trees outside. A perfect song for a perfect evening in a perfect location. Very romantic. Perfect.

Temple of Cool
It is, you know! It’s got an ultra-cool groove on that is foot-stompin’ jumpin’ ‘round the room infectious like anything and more than most. Plus it has a wonderful, deep tremolo going for it that just adds to the cool factor. I like tremolo. It isn’t used here for everything, so when it comes back with the chorus, it’s welcome and not tiresome. This is a song that makes me want to dance to it, or just jump around a lot to the beat and hope I don’t knock something over. Cool!

Millions in Prizes
Kaleidoscopes on the TV screen, fast in-out zooms, swirling images, Pop-art graphics and pop-up comedians saying very silly things, Go-Go girls, Mod-fashioned folks decorated with giant paisleys in bright colors. Girls with short hair and shiny vinyl micro-mini skirts. Boys with long hair and shirts with oversize collars. This might be the most fun on the record. Just go ahead and sock it to me!

Holy Batman! Bang! Zoom! Crunch! Where’s Robin? Waiting in the Batmobile of course. And right in the middle of music that sounds like it could be from that iconic TV series comes an interlude that momentarily suggests New York after dark above 96th Street, in the rain, with only a dim streetlight in the distance to show the way. Who’s that in the shadows? Funny you should ask?

Happy Shadow
I love The Shadows. There’s something about their music that was the beautiful calm before the storm. But this is The Shadows on Crazy Aces. There are lots of touches that make sure this song doesn’t just copy the mood and style of the originals. It feels different, maybe more frenetic and garage band-like. In a good way. No one’s crying for this Shadow.

Agent Yellow Jacket
Cheese it – it’s the Fuzz! Lots of attitude and bravado mixed with a swinging vibe of funky, slinky, edgy, driving beat. This song just rips into cheap detectives driving beat-up cars and cheaper girls going along for the ride. Is anyone in this story the good guy? Is the victim simply the slowest bad guy? You got to have a lot of confidence to play this game, and a lot of skill to play this song. Want to dance to it? Do the boogaloo!

Busted & Broken
My second favorite song on this album by the bulge of a worn out fighter’s nose. If there’s a genuine noir song on this album, this is it. The melody is right out of dimly lit bars with cheap whisky, bad days and worse nights, desperate women with nothing to lose, down on their luck men who’ve already used up their last chance. This is not the place to look for salvation, a fair shake, or even sympathy. This is the dead end of life and you’re busted and broken. This song is fantastic! I want to watch any movie that has the nerve to use this as its theme song. It’s that terrific!

The Long Ride
This is a lovely song. It’s a gentle, lilting spaghetti-western with a touch of humor that shows great fondness for its subject. The melody is beautiful and romantic, and the rhythm, well if you’ve ever ridden a horse slightly faster than a walk, you’ll recognize it. Horses can cover ground at this speed for long periods without tiring, and it’s easy on the riders, too. This song is a perfect way to end the record, riding off into the sunset.

Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go by Crazy Aces is a very worthy successor to their debut release. It’s different-sounding while being true to their sound and feel. The material is fresh and unexpected, yet who else but Crazy Aces would have made this record?

I’ve enjoyed every minute of listening to this record over and over for hours while writing this review. There’s so much variety, I never once got bored or tired of it. I can’t wait to just play it and be surprised all over again by how much fun it is to listen to.

Crazy Aces (on this recording) are:
Jeff Senn, Guitars and Keys
Tom Hoey, Drums and Percussion
Justin “Oscar” Cary, Electric and Acoustic Bass
Kiwuamu Stewart, Guitars

Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go
Produced and Engineered by Jeff Senn and Crazy Aces
Mixed by Jeff Senn
Mastering by Alex McCollough at Yes Master, Nashville, TN
Graphic Design by Glen Hannah at StudioGoongah, Australia
Back cover and inside photos by Alex McCollough

The following gear was used to record Surfadelic Spy-a-Go-Go, and while they don't make up for all the time and talent that went into making this record, they did contribute significantly to the sound and feel.

1959 Guyatone LG-50
1966 Harmony Rocket
A handful of mid-‘60’s Teiscos
Rickenbacker 325 and 330
1953 Gibson CF-100
1972 Mosrite Mark I
Reisssue 1962 Epiphone Sorrento

Rickenbacker 4001
1966 Teisco Decca
Epiphone Rivoli
Eastwood Sidejack VI
Upright Bass

1973 Princeton Reverb
1966 Princeton Reverb
1960 Supro small single 6V6 with 8-inch speaker
Supro 1624T
1953 Fender 5C3 Deluxe

Crazy Aces are on
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On Facebook at
Email Crazy Aces at

For Ace, who is the best dog I never met.

1 comment:

  1. Is the burning drum for real? Sure your performance is spectacular. SUP Red Deer