Rock Historian Glenn A Baker has called The Atlantics “one of the most extraordinarily talented rock groups Australia has ever produced”.
The band’s sound encompassed surf instrumentals and sneering garage-punk and, as well as issuing 18 singles under its own name, the band also backed Aussie rocker Johnny Rebb for a series of fine singles between 1964 and 1969.
The Atlantics formed in Sydney during 1961, with Jim Skaithitis replacing Eddy Matzenik on guitar a year later. The band’s first single for CBS, Moon Man, in February 1963, echoed The Shadows’ twanging guitar sound.
Subsequent singles Bombora (#1 in Sydney in July that year) and The Crusher (Number 4 in Sydney in November) established the band as bona fide leaders of the burgeoning surf music craze.
CBS issued Bombora (an Australian Aboriginal word for large waves breaking over a rock shelf) in the USA, UK, Europe, Japan and New Zealand. Alongside The Ventures’ Walk Don’t Run, The Surfaris’ Wipe Out, The Chantays’ Pipeline and Dick Dale’s Miserlou, the song is now considered a classic of the surf music genre.
The Atlantics recorded seven more singles for CBS (including one with vocals, called Surfin’ Queen – recorded as Kenny Shane & The Atlantics) before moving to the Sunshine label in 1966.
Reinventing themselves, The Atlantics added a vocalist (Johnny Rebb) with Theo Penglis switching from guitar to keyboards. During this time, Johnny Rebb continued to release a number of singles under his own name with The Atlantics backing him.
Over the next year, the band recorded three remarkably tough rock singles, It’s A Hard Life (July 1966), I Put A Spell On You (January 1967) and Come On(March 1967) – all of which are highly regarded by aficionados of 1960s garage-punk. Re-issue specialists Raven Records included Come On on Ugly Things(1980), the seminal collection of Australian 1960s punk artefacts.
The Atlantics recorded five singles for the Ramrod label; Waiting Here For Someone (Sept 67); Sunshine & Roses (Dec 67); A Girl Like You (April 68); What Is Love? (Sept 68); and Light Shades Of Dark (Sept 69).
Their last recording was the Johnny Rebb single Ding Dong before they called it quits at the end of the decade.