Adrian & the Sunsets

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  • Adrian & the Sunsets - Breakthrough (CD)


    It’s a stretch to call Adrian & the Sunsets one of the major acts on the Southern California surf music scene of the ’60s, largely because they weren’t around long enough to make a lasting impact — Adrian Lloyd, the group’s drummer and leader, estimates they were together all of 11 months before the band fell apart thanks to disputes with manager and aspiring music mogul Bob Sheets (who had put the combo together in the first place). But the album they made in 1963 during their brief run is certainly one of the better and more idiosyncratic efforts to emerge in the latter days of the surf music boom. Breakthrough opens with a bracing crash of reverb and the thundering title tune, dominated by plenty of sharp guitar interplay between Ron Eglit and Clyde Brown and the forceful drumming of Lloyd, and it sets the tone for most of the rest of the album. While guest vocalist Bobby Forest (who was just 13 at the time) doesn’t bring much to the table (especially on an ill-considered cover of Richie Valens’ Donna”), the band is tight and lively, and Lloyd’s vocal spots are considerably stronger. Tunes like ”Stomping Time” and ”I Don’t Need You No More” show Lloyd was also a pretty good songwriter, and while no one needs two different tracks titled ”Nothing But Drums” (especially when they live up to their billing), Lloyd was a solid and thoughtful drummer who could do lots more than just keep time. Covers dominate the set, and while these versions of ”Wipe Out,” ”Justine,” and ”Pipeline” don’t surpass the originals, they still hold their own, and Lloyd and his bandmates had the admirable nerve to tackle ”Boss,” the hit by the Rumblers that Lloyd had played on a year before. Breakthrough has become a top collector’s item among surf music mavens, and while it’s something short of a classic, it’s fine, consistently pleasing stuff from a band that should have stuck around a bit longer. [Sundazed’s reissue of the long out of print Breakthrough adds some cool non-LP single sides (including the fine ”She Treats Me Better Than You”), as well as a few of Lloyd’s post-Sunsets solo efforts, most notably the feral garage rocker ”Lorna.”]”

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