Barefoot Adventure: The 4 Star Sessions 1962-66

by: Gary Usher

This collection encompasses the first incarnation of Gary Usher's multiple studio projects recorded between 1962 and 1966 focusing on surf, sun, and hot rods. During that four-year span, numerous LPs and singles were released using a core of studio musicians who were under contract to Challenge/4 Star: Dick Burns, bass and vocals; Dennis McCarthy, keyboards; Randy Thomas, drums and organ; and Usher on guitar and vocals. As collectors of the genre are well aware, not all of the material waxed has withstood the test of time. Usher, however, had talent that went beyond simply cranking out generic tunes to capitalize on a passing fad. Across the board, he produced superior recordings that continued after the surf and hot rod era evaporated. His post-1966 work with the Byrds, Sagittarius, Chad & Jeremy, Curt Boettcher, and many others is highly favored. Among the 38 tracks are 17 -- minus the interviews -- previously unreleased demos and alternate takes issued under the monikers the Four Speeds, the Sunsets, and the Competitors. Most fans will already be familiar with standout tracks like "R.P.M.," "Cheater Slicks," "Four on the Floor," and "My Little Surfin' Woodie." The extra treats are the two cuts by the Honeys, which are straight outta the Phil Spector girl group sound, and the Bobby Fuller Four-like "Harder and Harder." As usual, the folks at Sundazed have done excellent work. The four-part audio interview segments with Usher will satisfy anyone who is more than casually interested in surf and hot rod music. Also included are several rare photos, label artwork from the singles, and informative liner notes by surf author Stephen McParland. ~ Al Campbell

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