Release date: 1971
Genre: Folk, Californiana, Hawaiiana
The debut. Originally released on Rural Records, 1971.
Laid Back by Corky Carroll & Friends is a warm-hued snapshot of the musical life of one segment of the American surfing world, circa 1971. This album, the first ever recorded by true surfers, captures the relaxed, truly laid back feeling of the surfing life. The album features none of the tropes of "surf music": no reverb, no sugary vocal harmonies. Simply recorded with warm fidelity, what we hear is pro-surfer Corky Carroll and his surfer pals in various combinations delivering songs and instrumental pieces, perfectly capturing the sultry seaside atmosphere and their idyllic oceanic lives. All the performers were, in Corky's words, "real surfers" (unlike the Beach Boys), well-recorded in casual circumstances in California in 1971. Beginning (and closing) with Hawaii-born master board-maker Raymond Patterson's joyful slack-key guitar fantasias, the album features the famed Denny Aarberg on guitar (with Kathy Dragon of the legendary Dragon family), the articulate folk picking of David Lyons, Al Oakie's affable acoustic blues (with some fine harmonica), and the folky guitar playing of Carroll himself. A blend of vocal and instrumental pieces, the album is largely acoustic, and even the two tracks with electric instruments (from the band Hana, with electric pianist Jon Close, guitarists Dave Rullo and Herb Torrens, and bassist Dave Shoffner, surfers all) do not break the serenity of the calm, Pacific mood. Laid Back was Carroll's first recording, released independently on Rural Records (jointly run by Carroll and Dennis Dragon) while Carroll was still surfing professionally. Dragon, a skilled engineer, and Carroll "travelled up and down the California coast with (Dragon's) mobile recording setup and recorded this music in these people's living rooms and garages." You can feel the ocean nearby. Laid Back, a long-prized treasure, is an oceanic balm retrieved from the waves of time
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