Music Review: Ready Set Go!

Only in the ‘90s could you have a Swedish band named after a famous Florida beach city and playing both vocal & instrumental surf music that originated in Southern California during the early ‘60s. Daytonas were a leading surf band that were able to strike the perfect tone that crowned them as the successors to the Chantays (of “Pipeline” fame) and slotted them with top-tier contemporaries like the Huntington Cads. Furthermore, it’s amazing they released this album in 1993 - an entire year before the Pulp Fiction soundtrack arguably launched the third wave surf revival of the mid-'90s. Equally important, they continued the grand and challenging surf vocals tradition of Bruce & Terry, Fantastic Baggys, the Sunrays, Jan & Dean, and those Pendleton-wearing kids from Hawthrone, CA - the Beach Boys. Somehow, someway, this group and their music, so perfectly evocative of the Pacific Coast, made its way across the Atlantic Ocean from such an unlikely locale as Stockholm, Sweden. Their debut Ready Set Go! perfectly introduces their sound built on lavish reverb, soaring harmonies, and precious remnants of '60s surf & hot rod culture.

Covers such as “Geronimo” by Jon & the Nightriders are indicative of their deep knowledge of surf instrumental music, while original vocals numbers “I Love California” declare their yearning for the Golden State. This standout features a captivating organ solo on par with “Kind of a Drag” by the Buckinghams before floating into space like “Telstar.” Across the record, their guitars sparkle like sunlight reflecting off the onrushing sea. I didn’t think I ever needed to hear another cover of “Hawaii Five-O,” but when the Daytonas’ version burst from the speakers sounding like it came from the Pacific shores of Peru with the organ prominently on the forefront, it quickly became my favorite rendition. Vocals numbers return with the title track “Ready Set Go,” which reimagines the Fantastic Baggys’ “Tell ’em I’m Surfin,” while “Baked Beans & Chicken” features cool South of the Border guitars and lyrics highlighting hidden but perilous surf spots under the Baja, California sun.

Daytonas certainly deserved wider exposure during the brief time before “The Great Surf Crash of ‘97,” when some surf outfits were even signed to major labels. Today, their legend lives on through their recordings, delivered with an emphasis on melody and total attention to tone.  Ready Set Go! allows listeners to hear where it all began, when an unlikely but determined group of Swedes were able to momentarily recapture the elusive California Dream. - Ted (Downtown)

Ready Set Go! on Freegal

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