Caught a wave upon the ocean
Saw a way to life’s devotion
Have you ever heard of John Zambetti?
Neither had I.
Have you ever heard of Walter Egan?
Well, if you were a teenager or in your twenties in the late ‘70s then I know your answer to that second question is “Yes”.
Walter Egan, of course, is the One-Hit Wonder whose ballad ‘MAGNET AND STEEL’ (with Stevie Nicks doing background vocals) climbed to Billboard’s number 8 spot in 1978.
Walter Egan w/ Stevie Nicks - Magnet And Steel
If you bought Egan’s ‘Not Shy’ album in the Summer of Seventy-Eight, like I did, you noticed a picture on the LP sleeve that showed Egan and his bandmates posing around a big ol’ American-made car. Egan and the bloke to his right were wearing T-shirts that said “The Malibooz” on them.
As gin-soaked as my memory is, I can still remember, back in '78, wondering who or what “The Malibooz” was.
Now I know. The Malibooz is a band that Walter Egan has been a part of for over 30 years.
Two or three years ago, I somehow became aware of an album by The Malibooz titled “LIVING WATER (The Surfer’s Mass)”. I’d never heard it - only knew that it was supposed to be a sort of prayerful, meditative collection of Surf Songs sort of correlated to the Catholic Mass. I’ve never been Catholic, but
In the blog bits “Motel, Money, Murder, Madness” and “The Firefly In The Belly Of The Beast” I told you about a recent 3-day trip I made to Los Angeles. I had been planning that trip for a few months, and part of the plan was to visit the record stores Soundsations and Amoeba.
I determined that I would buy a few compact discs that were missing from my collection, but with the stipulation that what I bought should have some distinct Southern California association for me.
[For example: I bought Van Morrison’s “Moondance” which includes the song “Brand New Day”, the song that my screenplay “Billy ‘N’ Billie” – which I wrote in ’91, when I was an Angeleno – concludes with.]
One of three albums that I was absolutely determined to pick up while on this trip was “LIVING WATER (The Surfer’s Mass)” by The Malibooz. I’d heard some audio clips at the CD Baby website [a GREAT music source, by the way!] and I was sure I would enjoy the whole thing. ("LIVING WATER" was chosen one of the Top 5 Albums of 1999 by D.J. Johnson of C.D. Magazine.)
Malibu . . . my oldest friend, Eric, lived in Malibu when we were students at Santa Monica High School (Samohi). Some weekends I would stay at his house near Zuma Beach. He was living in that same Malibu house when he drove down to pick up me, my brother Nappy, and his best buddy, Mike, on our way to ‘Cal Jam 2’ in 1978.
[But Eric had forgotten to bring the tickets! They were still sitting on a coffee table in Malibu. While Eric drove all the way back to Malibu to get those pieces of paper, I walked up and down my street - Sunset Avenue - wearing boxing gloves, and beating the unliving sh#t out of every wooden post supporting a street sign that I could find. Nappy’s best friend, Mike, STILL talks about that!]
Believe it or not, even the superstore Amoeba Records on Sunset Boulevard didn’t have “Living Water (The Surfer’s Mass)” by The Malibooz. So a few weeks after returning to Airheadzona, I got on the CD Baby website and ordered it.
OH . . . MY . . . GOD!
I wasn’t prepared for this! I was pretty sure I would like it but . . . this is the best new music [released in 1999] I have acquired in, like, ages!
Now think about this: Walter Egan is the “big name” in the band, and yet the relatively unknown John Zambetti is the lead singer and principal songwriter. In other words, Walter Egan is perfectly content to be more of a “background” member of this group simply because . . . it’s a TRUE LABOR OF LOVE!
[And think about the incredible talent – like John Zambetti - that is out there in “this world”, but which we rarely learn about because these artists refuse to compromise their vision and gift by kowtowing to “the talentless, suit-wearing system” that dictates who does and who does not have “It”. What a load of Bullshevik!]
“LIVING WATER (The Surfer’s Mass)” is one of those albums so
A few minutes ago, I was sure that “Caught A Wave” (not to be confused with the Beach Boys’ “Catch A Wave”) was my favorite track. Three hours ago, it was “Lamb Of God” [I challenge you to refrain from singing along with that “Ahhh-AHHH-Ahhh!”]. Five hours before that, I was certain it was the instrumental “Crest, Then Broken”.
Had you asked me late yesterday what my favorite song was, I would have told you the best song in the set is “Bitter Water” (which, according to CD Baby, ended 1999 as the #1 MP3 download at Indiespace.com), but earlier in that day it was “Holy, Holy”.
Oh, wait, track 6 is playing again – “Crest, Then Broken” – yeah. Yeah! Oh, yeah! Definitely the best . . . if it’s not “Caught A Wave”.
HOKEY-SMOKE AND HOLY GOD!
I’ve shut off my completely beloved traditional Christmas songs and have devoted my ears to The Malibooz’s “Living Water” – which works equally well for background music to decorate a Christmas Tree to or music to contemplate and forgive by. Or just stuffs to dig no matter what you’re doing or what you believe.
The first thing you will notice in listening to “Living Water (The Surfer’s Mass)” is that The Malibooz love and respect the great music of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys; this is very Beach Boys-ish in style – with the wonderful, intricate, mellow harmonizing we’d expect from that Classic vocal group. But these songs are all spiritual in nature. Which is NOT to say that one must be spiritually-minded or dogmatically devoted to any particular religion in order to appreciate them.
Regardless of your spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof) this is simply breathtaking music that mostly ranges from the extremely pretty (“Bitter Water” and “Lamb Of God”) to the absolutely gorgeous (“Crest, Then Broken” and “Caught A Wave”).
[Who is playing that Classical guitar lead in “Crest, Then Broken”? It’s either Egan or Zambetti, but whichever of them it is, it breaks my heart into a Godzillion pieces! And how about that bass line in “Bitter Water”? Whoa! Du-uuu-de - gnarly!]
I’ve had “Living Water” for about a week, and my first time through the disc I thought it was very good, quite nice, but not necessarily “all that”. But by the 7th or 8th time through it, my mind had been shattered and blown away by it.
I like to tell myself that I’m a fairly good writer, and I’m seldom at a loss for words, but this record – all 33 minutes of it (33, that figures!) – I can hardly describe. The five reviewers at Amazon.com have probably said it better than I can. I suggest you read THESE reviews . . . but BUY the album at CD BABY.
Overall, this is extremely mellow – you’re not going to crank this up on the stereo when The League Of Soul Crusaders is coming over to drink beer and knock holes in the walls – but there are a few upbeat tracks. “Kyrie” and “Doxology/Amen” do rock, but not for long. And “Alleluia” sounds just like Dick Dale or The Surfaris trippin' on God, which, in fact, is quite cool (I wouldn’t even mind having an entire album in THAT style, too), but those three tracks - accounting for three minutes and thirty-seven seconds COMBINED - scarcely make a dent in the lushly layered, beautiful mood that the other songs set.
I know most people perceive us Southern California surfer-type dudes to be shiftless and dimwitted, but I’m here to prove those perceptions to be, like, mostly . . . pretty true. ...Nevertheless, these dudes – these musicians from ‘Surfrider Beach’ in Malibu – definitely dove deep and came back to the beach to tell us of the wonders they’ve found below the Spirit’s surface.
What a Christmas gift I gave myself! (Well,
Malibooz Band Benediciti
Malibooz Band Summer Wind
Malibooz Band Caught A Wave
The ‘Fat City Cigar Lounge’ Review
I’m “Not Shy” Now . . .
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.