Worldwide CD debut for one of this surf vocal outfit's two albums, originally released on Columbia in 1964 & now with three rare bonus tracks: 'Karen', 'Bunny Hill' and 'Don't Be Scared'. 15 tracks total. 1996 Sundazed release.
The Rip Chords were essentially a false front behind which lurked future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and Byrds/Paul Revere & The Raiders producer Terry Melcher. "Hey Little Cobra," a wimpier-than-usual hotrod record that benefits from Johnston and Melcher's full-bodied vocals, was their first big hit, generating a first album filled with unnecessary Beach Boys/Jan & Dean covers (four of 'em, plus an instrumental that basically rips off "Little Deuce Coupe") and a pretty good Melcher/Johnston, Spector-in-drag car tune, "Trophy Machine."
Much more intriguing is their guitar-heavy non-automotive material. "Here I Stand," their first single, updates Wade Flemons's 1959 Chicago R&B cha-cha with piercing, fruity falsetto and some vicious, loud guitar. "The Queen," which sadly isn't about a hotrodding RuPaul--she's a stuck-up Sting Ray driver--is vintage Dion goosed by queasy heights of falsetto. "Gone" sounds like the Isley Brothers' "Shout" with more tuff guitar, while "Ding Dong" is a doo-wop anticipation of "I Fought the Law." Post-album single/bonus track "Don't Be Scared" combines the Beach Boys' "Little Honda" and "Dance Dance Dance" with heavy fuzz. "She Thinks I Still Care," the Dickey Lee/George Jones country classic, is sped up Four Seasons-style with shredding guitar. And "Karen" (featuring the fabulous pun "I'm a fool for Karen") spices a mild Buddy Holly tune with killer destructo guitar from some anonymous L.A. Wrecking Crew stalwart. Fascinating genre-bending experiments, sadly never followed up. --Ken Barnes