Folks have outfitted Merrell Fankhauser with a lot of labels throughout a career which has found him moving through rockabilly, surf, folk, and psychedelic singer/songwriter fare to his so-called “surfadelica” phase and beyond, and he’s sampled and been all of these things, both as a solo artist and with his bands through the years, which include the surf outfit the Impacts, Merrell & the Exiles, Farardokly, H.M.S. Bounty (arguably his creative high point), Mu, the Fankhauser-Cassidy Blues Band, and in 1995, he reunited the Impacts. In truth, he sounds like a songwriter and musician who has adapted to the changing whims of the music business, trying to fit in at the edges of each new sound each new decade, until he finally returned completely to his surf roots. This set surveys these changes, and it includes some wonderful tracks like the fuzz classic “Drivin’ Sideways (On a One Way Street),” the modal “Blue Jay Blue” (full of wonderful, floating harmonies), the drive anthems “Workin’ in the City” and “Goin’ South,” and a pair of late surf sides, the joyous and raucous “Surfin’ Pismo” and the bouncy and Jimmy Buffett-like “Tiki Lounge.” He may not be quite as exploratory and out there as his reputation holds, but Fankhauser is still never less than quirky and interesting. His career is concisely sampled and surveyed here. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi
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