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The Top 10 Surf Songs of the Sixties

It is commonly understood that the period of the mid-1950s was a time of enormous change in American music. Even one of the mildest of Elvis Presley’s early hits -- 1956’s “Hound Dog” -- is obviously a very different thing than Patti Page’s 1953 hit “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window.” It is also commonly understood that the mid-to-late sixties was also a time of change, with almost as large a difference between the Beatles' 1964 hit “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and Hendrix’s 1967 recording of “Purple Haze.”

But to many the in-between period appears to be rather bland and blank. In fact it was anything but. In the very early sixties, for instance, several musical styles were vying for attention and some of them were very inventive and exciting. One of these styles was called “surf music,” and arguments about it -- which recordings, artists and styles are “best” -- still continue to this day.

Let’s look back at some of the top surf contenders and see just what the fuss was about. Let’s also see if we can separate the truly great surf songs from the “almost.”

10. “Penetration

1963’s “Penetration” by the Pyramids is a good starting point. It reflects the basic qualities that make for good surf music. Driving guitars saturated with heavy reverb, a strong beat, and a catchy melody. Surf bands still play it, and audiences still love hearing it.

Is it “good”? Certainly. But is it truly great surf music? We put it in 10th position.