ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK – Follow Me (Uni Records, 1969)
Hear me now: Groovy is not an adjective to be used lightly. No, it took quite subtle talent to create a studio smorgasbord of 60’s sound that straddled modern orchestral pop and psychedelia in a way that allowed parents to feel pleasingly hip while not entirely embarrassing their kids. And even if it did entirely embarrass, it was in a giddy, cannabis-induced way – one that left a big, stupid grin on the faces of everyone not made of stone. Quite difficult to achieve, that.
Composer Stu Phillips has rightfully earned Groovy Sainthood for giving us some of the most fabulous exploitation soundtracks of all time, including Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (a desert island disc IMO) and the less heralded but equally great Run, Angel, Run score. In this pantheon must lie his soundtrack to the surfing flick, Follow Me. Here the camp factor is tuned down, but late 60’s kaleidoscopic dynamism is in full effect, with tracks inspired by farflung oceanside destinations the world over – India, Morocco, Ceylon, Portugal, Hawaii. Not unlike how Les Baxter and Martin Denny reimagined ethnic sounds a decade earlier, Stu incorporates regional sound effects and instrumentation into his fanfares that were proto “world music” in all but name. And he always did it with a crazy glee that boring ol’ Peter Gabriel never knew existed.
Best of all, are the cuts here Stu wrote for DINO, DESI & BILLY. For the first and only time in their horrid career, DD&B gave us something worth telling mom about: a lushly produced, baroque form of soft beach pop that, for my money, surpassed anything Brian Wilson lent his name to that year. The ease with which those tracks – particularly “Thru Spray Colored Glasses” – have slid deep into my warmest thoughts is just, well, sick. It’s a darn shame they were left off Stu’s Surf, Sex And Cycle-Psychos comp CD that came out on Cherry Red a few years back.
So while nothing here really captures the thundering power of breaking waves or the awesome grace that is surf riding, it’s aok by me. What Stu has done is get me believing beach culture the world over really is one gloriously intoxicated, all-year-round swinging party. And that’s no mean feat.