CD Review - The Malibooz: Beach Access
by Matthew Greenwald
Originally formed in 1963 by guitarists/vocalists John Zambetti and Walter Egan, the Malibooz were, for a few years in the early to mid-'60s, the pride of the New York City surf music scene. Although this may seem like an oxymoron, Right Coast indeed did have a thriving audience for the music, and the group is lovingly remembered in the area. After changing the band's name to Sageworth, they went their separate ways, with Egan garnering the most success with his move to California in the mid-'70s, working with such luminaries as Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne. His 1978 album, Not Shy, yielded the million-selling single "Magnet and Steel," which was later included in Boogie Nights and the subsequent soundtrack. However, the Malibooz reunited periodically in the 1980s and '90s for a series of fine albums. Beach Access features former Knack drummer Bruce Gary, who has also periodically pounded the skins for Love architect Arthur Lee and former Cream bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce. Filled with mellifluent ballads (such as the gossamer "Our Summer Love") and some positively stinging, Ventures-styled instrumentals ("Shredder" may just be one of the finest modern-day songs of the genre), the album is a well-balanced and engaging affair. Aside from excellent musicianship throughout the album, it's the group's harmony vocals that will probably capture the listener first. Drawing on obvious influences such as the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean, among others, the impact of these voices coalescing cannot be overstated, and the end result beguiles the heart as well as the ear. Far more than being a simple "revisionist" band, the Malibooz have taken the best elements of the California surf music genre and distilled them in a way that virtually writes a viable chapter of the form for the 21st century.