Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Garage Rock Classics: Surfin' Bird

"Surfin' Bird" is one of the great, wigged out songs of the early '60s. It's also debatably the first great garage rock song. Doo-Wop group The Rivingtons had scored a few hits on the R&B charts with the nonsense songs "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" and "Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow." In 1962, they followed them up with "The Bird Is The World," an equally nonsensical, and incredibly raucus number about a surfing bird. "Bird" was covered by Minnesota surf group The Trashmen, who renamed it "Surfin' Bird." That song hit #5 on the U. S. charts in January, 1964 and was even wilder than the original. Naturally, it became a standard during the punk years. The Ramones revived it on their 1977 record "Rocket To Russia." It's also been recorded by Silverchair, Sodom, and R. Stevie Moore. There have been novelty versions by Pee Wee Herman and Sesame Street's Big Bird.

I've included the versions by The Rivingtons, The Trashmen, The Ramones, and an extended (and uncharacteristic) freak out version by The Cramps.

Surfin' Bird


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