Delightful Rain
The Story

“Not a sound, but a soundscape”
By Stephen McParland

  At Freshwater Beach on Sydney’s north shore, on Sunday, January 15, 1915 Olympic swimming champion Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku introduced surfboard riding to Australia. Without a surfboard at his disposal, the Duke simply shaped his own from a slab of sugar pine provided by a local timber yard. The end product was 8ft 6in long with a flat deck, rounded rails and a concave bottom. This icon of Australian surfing now resides in a glass case in the Freshwater Surf Life Saving Club’s beachfront room, the very room that was selected for the May 2006 recording sessions of DELIGHTFUL RAIN, “A Celebration Of Australian Surf Music.”  

   The Duke’s antics on that Sunday morning took place nearly 50 years before the refrains of The Denvermen’s Surfside and The Atlantics’ Bombora introduced Australia to a home-grown form of surf music, the original of which surfaced in 1961 in southern California.

  While it was the guitar sounds of Dick Dale & His Del-Tones and the vocal strains of The Beach Boys that set the American music charts alight, Australia seemingly ignored this early burst of the surf sound, somewhat more enamored by an English instrumental quartet known as The Shadows, who had first hit the Australian charts in late 1960 with Apache. It was The Shadows’ sound that was to influence the majority of Australia’s burgeoning surf bands, rather than the reverb laden sounds of the originators.

  In late 1962, a local Sydney band, The Denvermen, began working on a Sleepwalk styled instrumental (conceived by their lead guitarist Les Green and producer/manager Johnny Devlin) that was eventually christened Surfside. It was a title that seemed to fit the tune once Devlinhad added the sound effects of breaking waves to the recording, oblivious to what was happening on the other side of the Pacific. Released in December 1962, Surfside hit the Sydney Top 40 during the second week of January 1963, eventually topping the charts. It was not surf music as such, but became indelibly linked with the genre once the American surf hits began to achieve local success.

  A short time later, another young Sydney combo, The Atlantics, reacted more forcefully when group members Peter Hood and Jim Skiathitis put their heads together to create a driving guitar and drum pounding instrumental that they considered needed a “big” name. In the wake of the local success of The Chantays Pipeline, it was decided to call the new tune Bombora, an Aboriginal term denoting large waves breaking over submerged rocks.

 The sound was immense and within weeks the group had a #1 hit on their hands. To this day Bombora still resounds with the same vitality first evident with its debut in mid-1963

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