Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
3 Balls Of Fire - Friday Night at Ego'sdotdotdotdot
artworkThis is marvelous glimpse into the live energy and the edge of instros in Austin. Tonally, it is much like Paul Johnson and Eddie Bertrand together in 1984 at the South Bay Surf Band Reunion. Lots of covers, plenty of fun, and some nice simple arranging. 3 Balls of Fire are an Austin tradition. They've been the Friday night band at Ego's for a year, and still bring 'em in.
Picks: Wild Weekend, Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White, Caravan, Yellowjacket, Sunset Beach, Pink Panther, Peter Gunn, Island Girl , Woolly Bully, Jet Black, El Malpais, Harlem Nocturne, Music To Watch Girls By, Please Please Me, Light My Fire, Perfidia, A Taste Of Honey, The Lonely Bull, James Bond Theme, Girl From Ipanema, Slaughter On Tenth Avenue, Ram-Bunk-Shush, Bust Out, Rebel Rouser, Report From The Oort Cloud, Ego's Theme

Track by Track Review

Wild Weekend dotdotdotdot
Surf Rock (Instrumental)

Extra crunch permeate this delivery of the classic Rockin' Rebels hit. Extra smooth and crunchy. The edginess of the guitar tone brings it a different feel from the original.

Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White dotdotdotdot
Surf Lounge (Instrumental)

Well, I've been wondering how long before someone picked this up and ran with it. Retained and exaggerated are the exquisite stops and fun, and the edge just makes it all the sweeter. Extra cool!

Caravan dotdotdotdotdot
Surf Lounge (Instrumental)

Yikes! This lies in some no man's land between Duke Ellington and Al Casey, with grand forties arranging and spiffy modern edge. In some ways, it's powerful like the Casey version, and in other ways, it relishes the suave schmoozing of the Ellington version. Jazzy and more than a little fun! Too much fun!

Yellowjacket dotdotdot
Ventures (Instrumental)

With the Ventures stripped out of the tune, 3 Balls of Fire take this Venturism into a more fluid and textured place, where it has a more bluesy life, especially with the harmonica verse. Nice track.

Sunset Beach dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Amazing! I can't quite figure the mix of influences here. Oh sure, there's the Sentinals' original, but also within lies the Paul Johnson edge, the grodiness of Category 5's version, the mystique of the Surf Piranhas' reinvention, and then with the bongos... well, it's just too cool.

Pink Panther dotdotdot
Lounge (Instrumental)

OK, so you can't quite see the pink pussy cat in this tongue in cheek treatment of Henry Mancini's lounge lizard epic. It's jazzy and smooth.

Peter Gunn dotdotdot
Rock Surf (Instrumental)

The exotic bongos add suave to the rumbling bass and drums, while the guitar pours out a fluid stream of melody lines. Quite a cool track. Lot's of energy.

Island Girl dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Slow pristine and scenic sounds and melody lines bring forth a vision of sultry palms and breezy sarongs. Very pleasing, quite pretty, and it gets into your soul.

Woolly Bully dotdotdot
Frat Rock (Instrumental)

Instrumentally presented with edge and a groove of sorts. Bluesy and edgy.

Jet Black dotdotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

I haven't heard this Jet Harris tune sound this cool. The audience is really into the chorus. An obvious fave. It's funky, suave, and darn cool.

El Malpais dotdotdotdot
Spanish Surf (Instrumental)

This is cool! Right from the ringing entry chords, this carries an open country road feel and sound, and warmly uses whammy to convey a loose laid back warm breeze kinda day. Very nice.

Harlem Nocturne dotdotdotdot
Moody Surf (Instrumental)

Not just dramatic, but edgy and sporty. This uses vibrato to create a kind of demented shimmer instead of the moody shimmer of the Viscounts treatment of this Earl Hagen tune. Really nice.

Music To Watch Girls By dotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

Playful fooling around with a top forty anthem... lots of fun and smiles in this one.

Please Please Me dotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

A whammified intro right from Ron Woods guitar intro to "Around The Plynth" precurses an edgy deliverance of the Beatles' early hit. It lumbers towards the sundown adventures of Lonesome Cowboy Bill. Feedback and drama throb and weave a tale of dark optimism.

Light My Fire dotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

Boy oh boy. This reminds me so much of the live Trini Lopez version where he's backed up the Ventures on the Nancy Ames TV special, only this rendition has life. Too cool. The Doors didn't mean this to happen.

Perfidia dotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

The Ventures' arrangement fluidly drips out the band's performance. Tasty.

A Taste Of Honey dotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

With a nod to the Halibuts and an arrangement true to the soundtrack, 3 Balls of Fire grin their way through this familiar theme.

The Lonely Bull dotdotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

What an interesting arrangement. Bongos and subtle guitar work, making it all seem deceptively easy. Vibrato and finesse, and fluid clean tone.

James Bond Theme dotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

Speedy homage to little Jimmy Bond and John Barry. The bongos give it a distinctively different edge, a more jazzy feel.

Girl From Ipanema dotdotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

Now this is an interesting choice. The fluid guitar takes Astrud Gilberto's flat delivery out of the way, revealing a warm and engaging melody and a friendly delivery. Quite a nice track.

Slaughter On Tenth Avenue dotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

With the Ventures in mind, 3 Balls of Fire give a solid rendition of the show tune.

Ram-Bunk-Shush dotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

This seldom covered tune finds a warm reception at Ego's. It's a pretty straight delivery.

Bust Out dotdotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

An odd, if not impromptu intro brings the Busters' classic into rockabilly territory. It's not the least bit like the original (which was first called "Typhoid" when issued under the band's actual name the Northern Lights). This is a real raving pounder.

Rebel Rouser dotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

Duane Eddy lives here. Twang is the order of the day. Both band and audience dig the performance.

Report From The Oort Cloud dotdotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

Slow and moody, this is a really nice piece. There's a hint of the Mermen in the composition, and a mystique all it's own. Dramatic and unlike anything else here, "Report From The Oort Cloud" builds on a theme and meanders through slow gentility and harsh contrasts. Big and engaging. I think this may just be the highlight of the disc.

Ego's Theme dotdotdot
Lounge Surf (Instrumental)

"Ego's Theme" is a playful excursion into lounge, with a chanted call of "Ego's" punctuating the verses. Very cool, maybe even suave.