Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Fireballs - Torquaydotdotdot
artwork"Torquay" is a great album dating from 1963. All but the last 3 tracks are in stereo. While their genesis predated the recognized launch, the Fireballs were contemporaries with the heroes of the hey day of surf music when this album hit the streets. Here you'll find prototypical surf-to-be in the trademark Fireballs sound and structure. It's funny, but I'm beginning to take the high quality of Sundazed reissues for granted. Long live Sundazed!!! George Tomsco wrote the liner notes.
Picks: Torquay, Alone, Joey's Song, Last Date, Chief Whoopin' Koff (Chief Whoop-In-Koff), El Ringo, Wheels, Honey, Rawhide, Tuff-A-Nuff, Dumbo, Quite A Party, Clink Clink Classics, Spotnick, Power Packed

Track by Track Review


Torquay dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

"Torquay" is still a great tune, even 37 years after it was committed to tape. It was borrowed by the Challengers for their debut album Surf Beat, and by the Lively Ones for the Surfin' South Of The Border album. It's primal near-surf sound and rim shot percussion is quintessential Fireballs. The song's power is testified to also in the name being used for numerous bands, including San Jose's circa 1963 surf band the Torquays.

Alone dotdotdot
Shadows-like (Instrumental)

This track is very reminiscent of many Shadows tracks, single note leads, light weight chord accompaniment, and a UK twang in the guitar. It pretty, mid tempo, and unmemorable.

Joey's Song dotdotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

This super familiar Italian influenced tune has always been a spunky MOR number, with a flippant melody line, and an old farts party sound.

Last Date dotdotdot
Country (Instrumental)

This is a guitar arrangement of Floyd Cramer's brilliant piano tune. It's pretty enough, but lacks the beauty and charm of the original. Pristine playing does not overcome the MOR appeal, or raise it above the background music level.

Chief Whoopin' Koff (Chief Whoop-In-Koff) dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

"Chief Whoop-In-Koff" has a definite tribal coolness about it, a primitivity that transcends the sophisticated and quiet performance. The melody line is quite infectious, and the rhythm is very cool. It is now a regular part of the Eliminators & Splashback's sets.

El Ringo dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

"El Ringo" has a great cowboy feel and a rolling rhythm about it that just carries you down the road. The quirkiness of the melody, the cowboy feel, the rhythmic nature, and the ringing tones combine to create an irresistible track.

Wheels dotdotdot
Pre Surf MOR (Instrumental)

"Wheels" is the same tune that the String-Alongs had a hit with. They were also produced by Norman Petty who wrote this, but their version was much less plucky. This is quite MOR in character.

Honey dotdot
MOR (Instrumental)

Plucky MOR looking for a bachelor pad or elevator to lurk in. Not very interesting.

Rawhide dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Link Wray was probably quite surprised when he first heard the Fireballs' "Raw Hide," because their quiet arrangement completely changed the character of the song. It somehow maintained all it's power, but traded edge for pristine beauty.

Tuff-A-Nuff dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

A light weight funk with a cowboy's sensibility. You can just see a saddletramp shuckin' and jivin' - it's quite a vision, but not much of a track, and certainly not tuff in the vernacular of the day. From March 1961, and previously only issued in Canada on a single.

Dumbo dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

"Dumbo" is a very quirky and memorable melody, and the double picking is perfect and clear as a bell. It has an incredible likability about it, and a magic all its own.

Quite A Party dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This track displays the first really nice panoramics on a drum kit that I am, aware of. The toms are panned, with snare and kick in the center. The bass is left and the rhythm is right, but because it's a gentle performance, it works ok. "Quite A Party" has been covered as "Quite A Surf Party" by Jerry MacNeish. Quite infectious.

Clink Clink Classics dotdotdot
Pre Surf MOR (Instrumental)

A bit of piano plinkery, some so-so guitar, and an empty elevator do not make for a very interesting track. I suspect that with the deletion of the piano and a more aggressive approach, this could be a rippin' surf track.

Spotnick dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

With a military snare, a marching cadence, and a plucky oldsters party sound, this just doesn't cut it, and certainly doesn't issue forth any space imagery.

Power Packed dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

"Power Packed" is an unreleased track from 1961. It's the sort of song Paul Johnson would do wonders with. It's rhythmic, funky cool, and fun.