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Pipeline Review of Sandstorm

It was a sad day for RI fans when The Space Cossacks went their separate ways. Since then lead guitarist Ivan Pongracic has been back to his Shadows roots with The Troubadours, but now he is pushing the boundaries again with a new outfit The Madeira. As he describes it: “What we are doing is continuing the evolution of surf music that was so regrettably ended in ’65 with all the British Invasion stuff… If you think of what The Atlantics were doing with their entire second album for example, their really-out-there songs like Stampede or S.O.S. (Stomp On Stomp) or their later stuff like War Of The Worlds or Giant, or say The Fender IV with Margaya or Everybody Up!, it was just amazing stuff that very few modern surf bands have explored in any sort of depth. So this is where I see The Madeira continuing as though the ’66-'06 period had never happened and Surf Music was the only, and best, music around!”

The Atlantics’ influence extends to one of their titles being the only cover on the album. And a very fine version of Express To Baghdad it is too, full of dash and excitement yet still built around its evocative theme. Rogue Wave also displays The Atlantics’ hallmark driving rhythm, stinging lead, unison crescendo-building and dramatic melody with a dynamic and inventive arrangement. It’s the best thing The Atlantics never recorded. El Caliph betrays The Fender IV’s influence as it develops around that great Margaya beat, anyone wishing that Randy Holden had laid down a few more instrumentals should check this out.

And it’s pretty fiery stuff like this throughout most of the album. The mid-tempo Secret Route halfway through and the ballads Crescent Moon (beautiful) and The Oasis (dramatic) at the end provide the necessary contrast. The strong melodies, great arrangements, superb playing and exciting echo guitar sounds all contribute to the irresistible nature of this album. It’s one that demands playing straight through, over and over again. Wonderful.

- Alan Taylor
Pipeline Magazine

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