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The Allen Oldies Band: Ride the Wild Surf

Allen Hill and friends sweat to the summertime oldies on Ride the Wild Surf.

In the British government, there's a cabinet-level Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport position. Nobody calls it that; instead, they call the holder of that post "the Minister of Fun."

If Houston had a cabinet of soul, in addition to being Houston's High Priest of the Oldies, Allen Oldies Band singer Allen Hill is Houston's Minister of Fun, the Emperor of Exuberance, the Rajah of Cheer.

With this characteristically delirious tribute to the fast-disappearing, vintage (mostly) American rock and roll of the early '60s, Hill and his tightly anarchic band do nothing to disgrace any of those positions.

There's a concept here: Summer, to Hill, equals freedom. School, after all, is out. And that's when you get to surf (here represented by the title track, "Miserlou" and "Surfin' Bird"), love ("Summertime Love" and "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'), eat ("Peanut Butter") and, um, eat love ("Yummy Yummy Yummy").

Along the way, you're treated to a delightful children's chorus on "Sweets for My Sweet" and you'll learn the exact time that's hottest in "Summer in the City." And ye gods but that cover of "Miserlou" is as positively narcotic as bodysurfing a tropical storm on 'shrooms.

Throughout, the summer concept is delivered with Hill's characteristic sincerity, one that often crosses over into a sort of infectious dementia, something akin to a mantra-like state of enlightened Oldies-ism. (Hell, on the outro to his devilishly manic "Surfin' Bird," he's way, way over that line, speaking the Pentecostal tongues of old-school rock and roll.) Hill's voice might not be much, but this man's got a fever and all that can cure it is more oldies.


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