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Pacific Longboarder: The Atlantics “Still Making Waves” 60 years on!

Believe it or not, Australia’s surf-music super group The Atlantics has just released a new album of all-new original songs. Jim, Martin & Bosco – even Peter Hood can be heard on the closing track. What makes this release truly remarkable is that it’s 60 years since The Atlantics first topped the charts with “Bombora” – Australia’s true surf music anthem. All the magic is there. Check out the video for “Surfing The Wedge” – and find the album at

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ABC News: Australian surf rock band The Atlantics are Still Making Waves, six decades later

By Mark Bannerman

It was 1961 and two boys from Maroubra Bay High in Sydney are talking after school.

One is Peter Hood, the drummer in a new band called The Atlantics. 

The other, Jim Skiathitis, is an up and coming guitarist who sings songs like Sweet Sixteen at parties. 

They chat for a while, until Hood suddenly asks a question that sounds more like ultimatum. Could Skiathitis learn barre chords on his electric guitar? And if he does he can then join the band.

Telling the story this week 60 years on, as The Atlantics release their latest album, Still Making Waves, Jim Skiathitis laughs at the memory: “I said I could, of course … in fact, it took me a couple of weeks to do it and it wasn’t easy.”

Still Making Waves by The Atlantics is out January 26.(Supplied: The Atlantics)

But did they immediately have the sound we now associate with The Atlantics — of echo-drenched guitar making fans think they were surfing, with perfect waves breaking on an endless beach? Well, not quite, Skiathitis says.

“As we got better instruments — like our Fender guitars and amps — we did. At first, we covered songs by bands like The Shadows from Britain. But then we started writing songs. Peter Hood and I had this affinity for writing songs together.”

Better still, the crowds that turned up to see them liked what they wrote.

“It was exciting, we had our share of screaming girls, we were a powerful band, no pussy-footing,” Skiathitis says. “We were loud and different to other bands. We were more forceful.” 

Australia’s first global rock act

Playing live and playing in the studio to make a record are two very different things. CBS, though, were confident the band could make the transition and gave them a contract. 

Skiathitis can still remember what it was like going into the studios for the first time. “Scary,” he says, laughing loudly. “For young guys, being in the studio was exciting but there was pressure. You had to play live and record it and mistakes were a big no-no.”

Their first single was well received — well enough for the record company to allow them to record a second single. Their choice of song was crucial the second time around. That song was Bombora, a surging surf instrumental. 

“We virtually lived at the beach. Peter [Hood] did surf and we all lived at the beach,” Skiathitis recalls. “As we heard the American bands the sound just evolved.”

Taking its subject matter from the growing surf craze and its title Bombora from the Indigenous word for a submerged rock that sits out of the line-up, making waves break in bigger surf, it immediately grabbed producer Sven Libaek’s attention.

The track quickly established itself in the top 40 then kept going all the way to number one. It stayed there for eight weeks. Then, in a move that stunned the band and the record company, audiences overseas heard and it and loved it. In response it was released in Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. It even charted in Italy. Suddenly The Atlantics were Australia’s first international rock act.

Today, Bombora is considered one of the top five surf guitar tracks ever.

“We were a different sound,” Skiathitis says. “The American bands used reverb units, we had echo units. It’s very different sounding. We had a stronger sound than many bands.”

When everything changed

The Atlantics were different in another way, too. Not surprisingly given their Greek and European backgrounds, their compositions had a different feel. Fans and critics felt they heard the sound of the bouzouki in Skiathitis’s playing and the feel of eastern Europe in his compositions with Peter Hood.

“I think it was just in-built,” he says. “I think everything I wrote had the sound of the East, with those minor chords. It was in our upbringing. Perhaps not all of the songs but quite a few.”

There was, however, a drawback to being migrants in Australia during the 60s. “We got a lot of the old ‘wog’ thing, it was rampant in those days,” Skiathitis says. “We were all Europeans, of course, and we weren’t everyone’s cup of tea or flavour.”

Their next song, The Crusher, did nearly as well as Bombora. Their fourth single, called War of the Worlds, was an attempt at a sci-fi opera. It was a bold move, taking them out of the surf, and not all the fans liked it. 

But then came The Beatles with their voices, inventive songs, different chord structures and three-part harmonies. The impact on potential audiences was profound.

“When the Beatles arrived, everything changed … we discovered we could sing. It was easier to adapt to what people wanted and we ended up a covers band,” Skiathitis says.

The evolution of the ’60s could have been The Atlantics’ death knell. It wasn’t. The band morphed and in a masterstroke engaged a singer called Johnny Rebb. He could sing up a storm and Peter Hood delivered the perfect song for him, called Come On.

The track delivered an impassioned vocal that encapsulated the sound of lust and longing that 55 years on, stills sends shivers up and down your spine. 

As Skiathitis recalls, it didn’t sell big at the time but as the years rolled by, Come On became one of rock music’s greatest “garage” tracks, played by other artists and included in the ground-breaking Down Under Nuggets Collection.

The Atlantics – Come On (1967)

A twist of fate, an unexpected revival

As the ’60s became the ’70s, music changed again. Singer-songwriters were all the rage and “glam” rock was just around the corner, along with disco. In 1971 The Atlantics stopped playing and recording. Band members found other things to do and, except for a brief re-union in 1987, that’s the way things stayed until the late 1990s.

Enter guitarist Martin Cilia. An accomplished musician, he had grown tired of current musical trends like techno and dance music. Instead he decided to make a guitar-centred solo album based on the kind of music he liked. What he needed was a bass player and, in a curious twist of fate, the man he had in mind was Bosco Bosanac, formerly of The Atlantics.

“We were loud and different to other bands. We were more forceful,” Jim Skiathitis says of The Atlantics’ sound.(Supplied: The Atlantics)

“I went into his record store at Annandale and said, ‘I’m going to make this album, would you like to play bass on a few tracks?’ I then gave him a cassette,” Cilia says.

A few days later he had his reply. Bosanac said he didn’t want to play on Cilia’s recording but could he play live — would he be interested in joining The Atlantics? “I said, ‘Are you serious?'”

Cilia was interested but suggested they get together and see if the chemistry worked. “It was like we had been together forever,” he says. “The next thing you know we had made an album, called Flight of the Surf Guitar — that’s what brought the band back.

Jim Skiathitis says he, too, felt the energy and the rapport immediately — that Cilia had “rejuvenated” the band.

‘People were genuinely excited that we were still going’

The revival Martin Cilia inspired also happened to coincide with a revival of longboard surfing and a desire to go retro. Suddenly, The Atlantics had many of their old fans and a whole new bunch of supporters.

Bombora was played at the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Then, in 2006, when David Minear from Bombora Records and producer Kerryn Tolhurst wanted to record and film a concert in the Freshwater surf club to showcase the history of surf music, the first people they asked were The Atlantics. Atlantics – Surfing the Wedge (2023)

Freshwater was the first place in Australia where a surf board was ridden and the country’s greatest surf band didn’t let him down, with a searing version of Bombora that became the centrepiece of the concert.

Suddenly, people were listening not just here but across the globe. “I was shocked at how we were known in different countries,” Skiathitis says. “People were genuinely excited that we were still going.”

The band’s latest release, on January 26, includes only one track with original drummer Peter Hood, who sadly passed away in 2021. Still, the album doesn’t stray too far from the sound they pioneered. The first track is called Surfing the Wedge, in reference to a break at Newport Beach in California. If you close your eyes you can sense the sun, the pounding surf and the smell of salt on the air. 

“It was great fun,” Skiathitis says of his 60-year ride. “There were things we didn’t do when we should have and, regretfully, there were some casualties along the way. But I’m just really pleased that we left an impression on the world.”

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Surfer Gary Birdsall on hand to see Cronulla Point big wave ride re-created at Walk the Walls

By Murray Trembath
Updated December 12 2022

Gary Birdsall, the surfer whose big wave ride at Cronulla Point in 1963 was captured in an iconic photo and paintings, was on hand to see the moment brought to life in another art medium – a mural at Cronulla Walk the Walls.

The festival attracted many visitors over the weekend and the chamber of commerce says it will have ongoing benefits for businesses over summer and beyond in bringing people to Cronulla.

Birdsall, a Cronulla Point pioneer who visited the festival on Sunday, said street artist Jez Westblade (art name Mickwest) had done “a fantastic job” with his painting on the side of a building in Surf Lane, behind Hoyts.

Photographer Bob Weeks took the photo of Birdsall on the six metre wave, which was used on the cover of The Atlantics’ LP record Bombora and was later re-created by Birdsall, a renowned surf artist.

Birdsall, who now lives at Bulli, recalls it was “a weekday, and there weren’t many people about”.

“It was a big day, with a perfect line-up,” he said.

Birdsall said Bob Weekes photographed him as he took off “before I got absolutely wiped out”.

“I had a single fin board, which was the only reason I fell out of the face,” he said.

“We didn’t have tri-fins back then. If I had a tri fin, I would have stayed on the wave.”

Among the 40-odd art works in the festival is one by Kirrawee artist Bronte O’Shannessy, depicting the natural beauty of the former fisheries site at Hungry Point.

O’Shannessy described it as “an ode to the fisheries”, a message against developing the site.

Lettering artist Gillian Dinh (street name The Marker) took on one of the biggest challenges.

Her work, Too Nice, on the rooftop of the Croydon Street multi-level car park, is made up of extracts from about 100 anonymous messages of care, which she gathered from like-minded people on social media.

“I want to encourage acts of kindness when people say we shouldn’t worry or care,” she said.

Sutherland Shire Council staged the festival, using an $88,500 graffiti management grant by the state government.

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Reverb Central: The Atlantics – Bombora …The Next Generation ****

This is the 12 inch single from the …The Next Generation album. There’s something fascinating about the merger of Oz surf and discotheque production. While it’s not as adventurous as the Surf Coasters remixes, it is nonetheless plenty of fun if you just don’t screw your trad hat on too tight.

Picks: Bombora …The Next Generation, Bombora (Banjo Mix), Bombora (Nylon Mix), Atlantica, Blackberry Blossom Stomp

Track by Track Review

Bombora …The Next Generation ****

Discotheque Surf (Instrumental)
Heavily processed with programmed sequences, and a long intro, they eventually get to the classic riffs of their great “Bombora.” This is a fascinating blend of the extreme credibility of “Bombora” and the dance floor. I found it hard not to like this. Its adventurous and brave excursion into the strobe lit world of the disco is attractive in a strange way, perhaps similar to the Surf Coasters industrial remix of “Miserlou.”

Bombora (Banjo Mix) ****

Discotheque Surf (Instrumental)
Heavy intense guitar twango, bumpy disco rhythms, and that banjo… it’s like a surf journey into the backwaters of Deliverance backlit by strobes and lasers. Yikes! The banjo break is priceless, especially the banjo glissando… I can’t resist!

Bombora (Nylon Mix) ****

Discotheque Surf (Instrumental)
“Bombora (Nylon Mix)” is way more compact, more direct, and more tightly pop structured. The arrangement is brilliant! Amazing!

Atlantica ****

Discotheque Surf (Instrumental)
High flying, spacy, whale-call echoed, and very modern, “Atlantica” is exotic, Latin, infectious. The scream of the guitar is very modern and intense. A bit noodly at times, but quite cool.

Blackberry Blossom Stomp ****

Discotheque Surf (Instrumental)
Heavy and thick, bumped beat backed, this circular country hoe-down is like Roy Clark at the disco. Way too fun!

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Reverb Central: The Best Of [CD] ****

Phil Dirt 

These guys are amazing! This CD includes tracks from the early sixties and recent gems as well. A grand cross section of their work. I think they have more power today than ever before, and they sure have retained their ability to create frantic raging instrumentals.

Picks: Bombora, Mirage, Reef Break, Surfers Paradise, In The Shadows, Moon Man, The Crusher, Gremlin From The Kremlin, Bluebottles, Transatlantic, Glassy Walls, Flight Of The Surf Guitar, Giant, Teddy Bears’ Picnic, Rumble and Run, Greensleeves, Point Zero, Gatecrasher, Shark Attack, War of the Worlds, Night Star, Atlantica, Stompin’ Time, Warp 5, Saturday Night

Track by Track Review

Bombora * * * * *

Surf (Instrumental)
This is great! The damped chops are more grodie with big room reverb, and rhythmic rumble very powerful. The lead is less piercing, giving the track a fuller more US period sound. Exceptionally cool and infectious! Worth the price of the disc all by itself!

Mirage ****

Surf (Instrumental)
“Mirage” has an almost Eastern European melody line, and creates picture of Gypsies and optimism. Quite a nice track!

Reef Break ****

Surf (Instrumental)
Solid Atlantics surf, with powerful drums, a melodic guitar line, ample twango, and much charm. Great rockin’ energy. The low-E verse is pure surf. Excellent. Your melodic guitar lines require ample twango and charm, and you’ll need to power that low-E verse!

Surfers Paradise ****

Surf (Instrumental)
In a strange way, “Surfers Paradise” has an “Endless Summer” feel to it, with a beautiful flow and easy attitude. Lovely and quite tasty.

In The Shadows ***

Surf (Instrumental)
As you might expect from the title, this seems inspired by the Shadows’ “Dance On.” It’s very tasty, and haunted in a playful way.

Moon Man ****

Surf (Instrumental)
An Outer Limits intro and the trademark whammy of the Atlantics come together for a fine instrumental with appeal and edge. Great drums, solid bass, and boss guitars. This is simply fine.

The Crusher ****

Surf (Instrumental)
Twangin’ cool Aussie-Shadows one-upmanship with the Atlantics’ signature rapid drums. Written by drummer Peter Hood and guitarist Jim Skiathitis, you’ll need to play it loud. Really strong!

Gremlin From The Kremlin * * * * *

Surf (Instrumental)
Tuff vintage Aussie surf with fine guitar work and great drums. Lots of energy and fiery playing. And, did I mention those drums?

Bluebottles ****

Surf (Instrumental)
Boss vintage Atlantics with a sound that’s a cross between their aggression and the more subdued Euro styles. The muted guitar parts are simply superb!

Transatlantic ****

Horror Surf (Instrumental)
At seeing the title, I had visions of the Aquamen’s “Ride A Pale Horse” set to reverb. It was not to be. It was not to be. “Pale Rider” is a slow sludgy surf dirge, a morose death march with reverb. The down nature of the song is an inversion of what surf usually is, yet it is quite compelling. Chilling vibrato, distant chorus, and that ultra slow pace stretched out for 5-1/2 minutes. It ends up being a perfect funeral march for a fallen rider.

Glassy Walls ***

Near Surf (Instrumental)
An attempt at surf, but a Shadows sound and little surf feel. The damped echoplex bits are nice.

Flight Of The Surf Guitar *****

Surf (Instrumental)
Yikes! What a great album opener. Somewhat like a Jon and the Nightriders number, this spectacular track has Dusty Watson-like drum drive. Imagine your furious guitar work and great glissandoes out front of this monster. Lots of power and finesse.

Giant ***

Surf-like (Instrumental)
Intense racing tune. Big whammy chord dramatic. If it were double picked, it could be a grand surf tune.

Teddy Bears’ Picnic ****

Surf (Instrumental)
This is just too fun! The classic children’s song gets the full tilt Atlantics treatment while retaining the requisite grins. Simply a joy to listen to! Believe it or not, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded a fine version in 1967. They were being cute, this is rockin’ cool!

Rumble and Run *****

Squad Car Surf (Instrumental)
Fade in intro with sirens, and your ominous lead belting out stinging notes. Much like the original, except a much better recording and more wisdom. Inspired by the Shadows, driven by Aussie lager, and quirked into perfection with your demented pick-foolery. A really cool song. Intense. Written by drummer Peter Hood and guitarist Jim Skiathitis.

Greensleeves ***

Surf (Instrumental)
This traditional song sounds very good in the atmospheric wash the Atlantics have created for it. Lush, delicate, and beautiful.

Point Zero ****

Surf (Instrumental)
Unlisted, this is past a long silence at the end of “The Crusher.” The sea shore sounds and yakking of party goers precede a “Surf Beat” intro. Surf riff rock with an eye on the tribal dance of the Rendezvous Ballroom. Fun and primal surf.

Gatecrasher ****

Surf (Instrumental)
the Halibuts’ catchy “Hammerhead” is an interesting vehicle for the Concaves. It’s energetic and pumpin’, and the melody line is optimistic as are all Pete Curry songs. Great stuff!

Shark Attack ****

Surf (Instrumental)
Heavy low-E number with Shadows twang all over it, and those speeding drums. Very nice.

War of the Worlds *****

Guitar War (Instrumental)
This is a superb new version of one of their fine vintage instros. Where the original did not capture my attention, this does. Thick racing pace and stinging guitars, dark energy, atmospheric danger, psychedelic edge… need I say more! Wonderful!

Night Star ****

Surf (Instrumental)
Slow and silky, “Night Star” floats across an evening sky with a fluid and intense guitar. Both moody and pretty, yet powerful as well.

Atlantica ****

Discotheque Surf (Instrumental)
High flying, spacy, whale-call echoed, and very modern, “Atlantica” is exotic, Latin, infectious. The scream of the guitar is very modern and intense. A bit noodly at times, but quite cool.

Stompin’ Time ***

Rock (Instrumental)
“Stompin’ Time” features chunky chords and a basic riff. It’s manic, frantic, and like frat rock for instro buffs, with superb drums. Yikes!

Warp 5 ****

Surf (Instrumental)
“Warp 5” is an aggressive song in the classic Atlantics mold, but with thundering drums and a thick sound that’s everywhere at once. Stinging guitar work and pummeling drums and bass. Quite good!

Saturday Night ****

Surf (Instrumental)
The melody line here is mighty close to the Nobles’ version of Link Wray’s “Black Widow” while still not being derivative. Punchy and driven, with powerful drums and spunky guitar work over solid bass. A tight and fun track.

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Sydney Morning Herald Obituary: Peter Hood: Drummer with The Atlantics on international hit ‘Bombora’

By Glenn A Baker

September 24, 2021

PETER HOOD: 1943–2021

In 2013, a surging instrumental rock song was added to the National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia registry. It was named after an Aboriginal term for large waves breaking over submerged rock shelves and had what has been described as a “monstrous, pounding, driving sound”. Penned by drummer Peter Hood and guitarist Jim Skiathitis, Bombora went to No.1 in Sydney while the follow-up The Crusher was almost as successful, denied the summit by the Beatles’ chart onslaught.

By September 1963, Bombora had been released in Japan, Italy, Holland, England, New Zealand and in South America. It was nominated as Record of the Week by US Cashbox magazine and reached No.2 on the Italian charts (where there was even a vocal version released).

Peter Hood with other members of The Atlantics, including Jim Skiathitis at right. 

It charted in southern California. The song was covered by a number of overseas bands, which made The Atlantics Australia’s first internationally recognised rock act. They went on to cut three albums for CBS, followed by a “best of” compilation which remained in the company’s catalogue for many years. In the closing ceremony of the 2000 Olympics, Kylie Minogue’s arrival in the parade atop a giant rubber thong was accomplished to the strains of Bombora.

The Atlantics was a seemingly odd name for a surf band that assembled along Australia’s Pacific coast, though it makes sense when you understand that it was inspired by a popular brand of petrol.

They weren’t prepared to just cover Shadows and Ventures tracks but had their own exciting sound to pursue. There was no shortage of instrumental acts in Sydney in the early ’60s, before the British invasion exploded – The Statesmen, The Starlighters, The Midnighters, The Telstars, The Dee Jays, Dave Bridge Trio, The Joy Boys, The Leemen, The Sierras, The Nocturnes and The Denvermen among them. But almost none were writing their own material.

Bombora played as Kylie Minogue stood astride a thong during the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Matched with the production skills and enthusiasm of Sven Libaek, their recordings possessed a particular energetic presence, right from their first single Moon Man. They developed an efficient studio association. In a four-hour session they could turn out an entire album. Although songwriter/guitarist Jim Skiathitis says that the success of Bombora took the band somewhat by surprise he can recall Libaek “jumping up and down” about the song when they laid it down. As one online tribute expresses it: “That pounding surf drum beat. He inspired many a teenager to beat the skins!”

The members’ European cultural influences (largely Greek with some Yugoslav and Hungarian), with all members having come to Australia as child migrants, gave their music a passionate edge over other local bands of their day. The members were schooled at Maroubra Boys High, with Theo Penglis coming through Sydney Grammar.

From the start Hood was, as Skiathitis, terms it: “The driving force. He was a powerful character, both creatively and as a muscly, imposing drummer. He always drove us forward.” Apart from the anchor and engine room that Hood provided, the band had the advantage of twin lead guitarists, both highly proficient on solo work and both capable of pushing the band along with a zinging rhythm. Their stage act included them playing their guitars behind their heads and Penglis and Skiathitis on opposite sides of the stage swapping lead lines with one another.

The Atlantics, 1961.

They even found acceptance in Melbourne, at a time when that rarely occurred. There The Thunderbirds ruled the roost but The Atlantics won many friends when they played a residency at Earl’s Court alongside the highly regarded Strangers. Their repertoire was not entirely linked to the ocean; they were also well known for tracks such as Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

Their fourth single, War of the Worlds, was a total break with the surf sound. Released in March 1964 it was a bold and ambitious attempt at a mini sci-fi space opera, it had a dramatic building intro, tempo shifts and dynamic changes. It was way ahead of its time, featuring a battle in space using echo and guitar effects, the like of which would not be heard, according to some chroniclers, until the arrival of Jimi Hendrix.

Penglis switched to keyboards in 1965, they added a vocalist in rock’n’roll hero Johnny Rebb and released a number of tough-sounding singles, most notably, in 1967, the song that is now widely regarded as a classic punk/garage track, Hood’s Come On. They also transformed Screaming Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You into a live drawcard.

They were one of the first Australian bands to set up their own independent label. From late1967 all their recordings (laid down in their own studio) were released on their Ramrod label. They moved with the times. For their instrumental release Take A Trip/Flowers the band worked under the pseudonym Gift Of Love. Their association with Russ Kruger lasted for eight singles and with Colin Cooper for 10.

Like England’s Shadows, The Atlantics were perfectly capable, in all phases, of recording vocal tracks, though radio programmers made it plain that they were an instrumental band to them and to their listeners. That is why, when they formally reunited in 2000 for another string of albums with new members Martin Cilia and original bass player Bosco Bosanac, they saw that particular writing on the wall and became the hottest, sharpest instrumental outfit in the country. Once again with Hood the engine under their hood.

The Atlantics: Jim Siathitis, Johnny Rebb, Theo Penglis, Bosco Bosanac and Peter Hood.

A new audience got to see them in arenas across the country on the Long Way To The Top Tour in 2002. With original tracks on the Flight Of The Surf Guitar CD and songs such as Reef Break they were redefining their unique position in Oz Rock.

In 2006, they participated in the CD/DVD project Delightful Rain. Filmed at Freshwater Life Saving Club, it celebrated Australian surf music and beach culture. In 2013, they were invited to a surf music festival in Livorno, Italy, to which they tacked on shows in Italy, Finland and Greece. It made up for the tours that never eventuated during their peak years.

Hood’s battle with progressive aphasia confined him to bed and made him gravely ill for the past year. He died on September 22 at Robina on the Gold Coast. Jim Skiathitis was by his side, as was Carol, his wife of more than 50 years.

Peter Hood is survived by his children David, Daniel and Michelle, who is a musician and music teacher, and by four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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Peter A Hood 1943 – 2021

26th June 1943 – 22nd September 2021

It is with a saddened heart that we announce the passing of our dear friend and Atlantics’ Drummer, Peter Hood.

Peter passed away at 11.00am, Wednesday 22nd of September 2021 at Robina on the Gold Coast. Peter, who had been gravely ill for a quite some time and was under professional care, lost his battle with illness and died peacefully with Carol, his wife of over 50 years by his side.

He was also closely attended by family members, and long-time friend and fellow band member, Jim Skiathitis.

Peter will be cremated and a memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at the Gold Coast at a date to be announced/advised.

The Atlantics
Jim Skiathitis, Theo Penglis, Martin Cilia & Bosco Bosanac

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The Best Of…

Buy from Bandcamp. This is a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more and includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app.

A great compilation of The Atlantics greatest hits on one great CD!

“On the world’s stage of Rock Instrumental music today there are very few bands that can say they have held up their heads and fought through the onslaught of different trends in Pop music and still survive to play amazing gigs and Studio record stunning albums 4 decades later.
40 years on, and the legendary Atlantics are doing just that.Sadly, my teenage years left me awhile back and I now live in the cold, cold North East of England

However I tell you something … when I play the new CD by The Atlantics, I will mentally be down there on Bondi Beach with the rest of them – falling off my surfboard, but still enjoying the music of one of the Greatest Instrumental units in Rock history.
The fabulous Atlantics!”

Davy Pecket – Editor
New Gandy Dancer Magazine

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Cream Of the Crate Album Review # 201 : The Atlantics – Great Surfing Sounds of The Atlantics

By Rob Greaves -August 2, 2020 10:00 am90 1

  These reviews are provided to help maintain a connection with various genres of popular music extending from the 1940’s through to present time.

“Virtually the only successful surf instrumental band, not from America.” – [] .. .. .. “THE ATLANTICS-BOMBORA . . . May be the Greatest Surf Instrumental ever put on Wax. – [Australian rock bands 1960’s and 1970’s] .. .. .. “(Bombora)… became Australia’s first international hit and made The Atlantics famous all around the world” – [100 Greatest Australian Singles of THE ’60s]”

This is album review number 201 in the series of retro-reviews of both vinyl LP’s and Cd’s, in my collection.

The series is called “Cream of The Crate” and each review represents an album that I believe is of significant musical value, either because of it’s rarity, because it represents the best of a style or styles of music or because there is something unique about the group or the music.

Links to the previous 200+ reviews can be found at the bottom of this review.

Summer in Australia is associated with sun and sand. – the beach!

The beach is associated with Surfing and for this review I have taken out of my crate, an Aussie group that will forever be associated with surfing and, surf music.

The group is The Atlantics and the album is “Great Surfing Sounds

Released on the mpf (Music For Pleasure )label in 1970, it has the code MPF A8121 and has 10 tracks.

Album label

Most people would be familiar with the band name, The Atlantics and might even remember the track, Bombora! Then it gets sketchy for most.

In fact they were one of Australia’s most talented rock groups and started out in 1961 as a purely instrumental group taking to heart first the music of the Shadows, and then groups like the Ventures.

The group initially consisted of:

  • Theo Penglis – on guitar
  • Eddy Matzenik – on guitar
  • Bosco Bosonac – on bass
  • Peter Hood – on drums

Very early in their formation Matzenik was replaced by James Skiathitis.

The Atlantics 1963

The name Atlantics would suggest that the group named themselves after they great, and often dangerous ocean. in fact, the name was far more innocuous – it was the name of a then local petrol brand.

Echoing the Shadow’s Twangy Atmospheric Instrumental Sound, they were snapped up by CBS Records and became a household name with the release of their Giant Hit Bombora.

This led them to being the first Australian rock band to write their own hits!

Their unique twin lead guitar sound caught the attention of CBS who released the track Bombora in July of 1963. More on that track later.

The Atlantics went on to record seven more singles and released six LPs for CBS, all of which are now regarded as classics of the Surf Instrumental Genre. They also recorded a string of vocal singles with various recording companies and these songs are now considered as outstanding examples of Pre-Punk Garage Rock.

Their first record was the 1963 single – Moon Man backed with Dark Eyes with their last release in 2011 on CD titled, Collectables.

The album “Great Surfing Sounds” was never released by CBS – one of its advantages is the track listing is not replicated on any other vinyl album released by the group.

Track Listing:

Side ONE

  1. Bombora
  2. Surfer’s Paradise
  3. Free Fall
  4. War Of The Worlds
  5. Tahitian waters

Side TWO

  1. Stompin’ Time
  2. Coral island
  3. Stampede
  4. Glassy walls
  5. Bluebottles
Rear cover

Track 1 – Bombora.

This just had to be the introductory track. Anything else would have been a let-down as this was their most sucessful track and frankly, with good reason.

It was THE big hit of Australian surf music, making it to the No. 1 spot on the Aussie charts in September 1963 and it announced a powerful, but short lived 6 months of surf‘n’stomp.

The Atlantics

There was a very good reason for this – the band were as powerful as ever, but, in early 1964 the British Invasion had really hit the shores – kinda like a Bombora – The Beatles were No. 1 in Australia and surf music was over except for a few dedicated souls.

A crashing set of wild sounds created largely on the guitars, it has it all – energy, pulse, slick play and that “certain something”!

THAT Fender

It is unlikely that the sound of Bombora could have been created on anything else but a Fender.

In fact that guitar became so iconic is was donated and now resides permanently in the Powerhouse Museum.

According to The Atlantics, on their web site – “

This iconic guitar is an early 1961 slab board Fender Stratocaster in original Dakota Red finish, serial number 69250. It is the guitar that was responsible for the fabulous sound of the classic song Bombora, Australia’s biggest ever No. 1 Instrumental hit which was released in 1963 by The Atlantics, who are now thought of as Australia’s greatest ever Instrumental Band.

The name Bombora? Bombora is an indigenous Australian term for an area of large sea waves breaking over a shallow area such as a submerged rock shelf, reef, or sand bank that is located some distance from the shoreline and beach surf break.


The guitar was originally purchased jointly by Atlantics Guitarist Jim Skiathitis and Drummer Peter Hood in 1961 from J Stanley Johnstons’ Music Store in Sydney.”

The guitar played a big part in many other tracks including  Crusher, War of the Worlds, Rumble and Run and Come .

So we move to Track 2 – Surfers Paradise.

While the often frantic if not frenetic pace of the faster tracks such as Bombora and Crusher were fan favourites, the slower more moody instrumentals also played an important part of this music genre.

Tracks such as the Lonely Surfer by Jack Nitzsche represent that period in the life of a surfer when the surf isn’t pounding. It’s not so much “Hangin’ Five” as just hanging around. Waiting in the water or watching from the shore, those almost still waters to change and the swell to rise.

This is the theme of this track – an early summers morning, with off-shore winds and glassy swells slowly moving through the early crystal morning.

Surfers Paradise

Track 4 – War of the Worlds.

This is a most un-Atlantics track, inasmuch as it is not a surf-based track.

There are no breaking waves, there are no tubes to ride.  This is a galactic space collision again demonstrating how the Fender can be shaken, bent, twisted and cajoled into providing serious “out-there” sounds.

Skiathitis shows that in the hands of a player with true skill, the Fender can provide sounds that while be easily created today with all forms of digital dovver-lackies.

There are a few subtle deference’s to other instrumental tracks, like the Ventures Walk Don’t Run. The track moves from the frantic, to the out of space, and then around the 1:50 mark to a more gentle theme, still with effects, before flying higher and higher into the strat-o-sphere!

It is some indication of how the track was viewed as being “out there” when it appeared on the album “Sounds Of The Unexpected”.

However, in the days of the early 1960’s there was nothing but the guitar, and in the hands of skilled players the Fender excelled at this, as this track demonstrates.

War Of The Worlds

The final track that I am examining, is the only track I am featuring from side 2 of this album.

Track 5 is Bluebottles.

As most of us know, a Bluebottle is a jelly fish with a sting – a powerful sting.

So, how do the Atlantics provide a sting in this track?

Easy, they call upon the skill of and benefit of having what amounted to dual lead guitarists. Although the track was composed by bassist , and featured Theo Penglis and James Skiathitis.

Compared to the complex guitar work of the guitarists who were to come later in that decade and the decades to follow, this track might seem tame. But we need remember the period we are in and, where music was at.  


Great Surfing Sounds of The Atlantics” represents the pinnacle of this style of music in Australia in this period of our music development.

In various forms The Atlantics have continued on with SkiathitisHood, and Bosanac remaining as the key players.​

More recent picture of Skiathitis
A more recent picture of Bosco Bosonac

Their ongoing popularity has seen them appear on Australia’s “Long Way To The Top” 50’s and 60’s Rock revival shows, the ABC-TV show – Studio 22.

In a final tribute to how they have impacted upon the Australian music scene, Bombora was used in the Closing Ceremony at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

More recent picture of Peter Hood

May The Atlantics ride the ‘waves” for as long as we can appreciate that they did it first in Australia, and, arguably did it best.

This album is available on Discogs for about $30.00 upward (including postage).


It wasn’t difficult finding some live footage of The Atlantics, so here are some clips from the 1960’s and one of a little later on.

Bombora 1963

The Crusher 1963

Flight of the Surf Guitar (released 2000)

Posted on

Guitar World: 10 Instrumental Surf Rock Songs You Need to Hear Now

Posted 03/10/2016 by Damian Fanelli

Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

I spent the good part of 10 years as the guitarist (and chief songwriter) in an instrumental surf-rock band.

We played for very little money … drove for hours looking for gig parking onManhattan’s Lower East Side … had people scream at us to turn down the freakin’ reverb …

As Slacktone’s Dave Wronski asked in a column a few years ago, will surf guitar be the last electric-guitar genre to earn some long-overdue respect?

Sure, Pulp Fiction elevated surf guitar from under the seaweed to a spot on the party-song playlists of hipsters around the universe.

But what is surf guitar? How does it differ from other styles of guitar playing? What equipment is used to get the sound?

“Fender-style guitars with single-coil pickups have typically been the weapon of choice, while vibrato bars are used to help express the rolling of the surf,” Wronski wrote.

“Sometimes the vibrato bar is used very smoothly; sometimes it is shaken to the point of breaking off–enough to make Ike Turner proud! (Check out his instrumentals from the early 1950s). Big, gnarly guitar strings that, when played loud and proud through a huge Fender amp, could shake the building, even when drenched in reverb from a tube-driven Fender Reverb unit. Even with all that reverb, there’s still enough bigness to the sound to do some major crowd control.”

A lot of you—most of you, in fact—have heard the usual batch of surf-rock instrumental classics from the early Sixties. Things like “Pipeline,” “Out of Limits,” “Wipe Out” and my favorite, “Penetration.” However, it’s probably safe to surmise that millions of you might know almost nothing about the modern brand of instro-surf rock that you’re likely to witness in a club in 2016. Or about the bands that play it.

Below, check out a guide to 10 surf-rock tunes—played by nine different bands or artists—that should be on your reverb-drenched radar. The good news is, most of these bands still exist! In fact, my band even performed with a lot of these guys back in the day. Ah yes, Slacktone at Asbury Lanes in New Jersey in ’06 … Insect Surfers at the Purple Orchid in El Segundo, California, in ’07. Ah, the memories.

Anyway, enjoy!

P.S.: Dave Wronski, who is mentioned above, is the guitarist in Southern California’s Slacktone. You can check out two of their songs below.

CALHOUN SURF | Los Straitjackets



SURF! SURF! SURF! | The Aqualads


FATHOMIZED | The Fathoms


NITRO | Dick Dale


MOJAVE | Insect Surfers

Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado. His New York-based band, the Blue Meanies, has toured the world and elsewhere. Fanelli, a former member of Brooklyn jump-blues/swing/rockabilly band the Gas House Gorillas and New York City instrumental surf-rock band Mister Neutron, also composes and records film soundtracks. He writes’s The Next Bend column, which is dedicated to B-bender guitars and guitarists. His latest liner notes can be found in Sony/Legacy’s Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Complete Epic Recordings Collection. Follow him on Facebook,Twitter and/or Instagram.

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