Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Vara-tones - Repeto 97dotdotdotdot
artworkBill Epps is a current member of Splashback, whose recent CD features a couple of these tracks, and is quite good. Bill was a member of the Vara-tones in the early sixties, and they recorded and released a very single called "Repeto." With the rising tide of surf music, and Bill's active involvement via Splashback, it was only a matter of time before he gather the original lineup together for a reunion or two. They committed some tracks to DAT for their own amusement, and I cajoled Bill into a copy. What a solid package this is. New and old songs, all performed well, and with a lot of oomph. Bill seems to be the master of the dribbled double pick here, creating a virtual waterfall of notes and sounds. As a bonus, the original version of "Repeto" is included. I really hope this sees release somewhere. It is good!
Picks: Surf Blaster, Varafied, Invasion Of The V-People, Midnite In Mazatlan, Over The Edge, El Sereno, Surf Rider, Repeto 97, Repeto, Vara-tone Stomp, Rendezvous Run, Foot Patter

Track by Track Review


Surf Blaster dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Upper mid tempo number with vibrant picking and a playful melody line like the new Chantays might do, and Splashback often do. It also has elements of Eddie & the Showmen's Spanish flourishes and major glissandoes. A very hot track, totally solid.

Varafied dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A slow bluesy number, like maybe the Surf Kings might wanna cover. It is ominous and melodic, with lots of finger work and wham!

Invasion Of The V-People dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Cool pick slide mangled cacophonous intro and big notes with space sound effects creates an appropriate air for the title. It's simple, hot, effective, and big fun. This mid tempo grinder hints at the possibility that they could become the airs to the trad thrown vacated by the Woodies.

Midnite In Mazatlan dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Slowish flowing Spanish number, with ample romantic imagery and smooth tones. Very catchy and pretty.

Over The Edge dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the same song Bill does with Splashback, but a different arrangement, with hot leads and dribbling notes that beg for relistening. It is an infectious and intriguing song.

El Sereno dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Also a Splashback song, this is more Spanish then their version. The lead guitar is great, damped notes exquisitely wet, very melodic and pretty.

Surf Rider dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A very wet and smooth version of this surf classic, with lots of cool dribbling notes and chords. A great version, just different enough to ward off the "cover blues."

Repeto 97 dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This updated version of their 1964 single uses Bill's guitar to replace the sax lead of the original arrangement. Like the original, they are screaming out their joy as they revive, relive, refresh and out do their only instro from their original line up. I think they have a winner here.

Repeto dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is the 1964 original (there are two updates from 1997 and 2000), with sax lead and great vintage surf rage. It is a really solid single, played with plenty of energy and teenage exuberance. The melody is solid, the energy good, and even under a bad mix, with the bass too hot, and the sax too loud, this is one fine tune. ItŐs played with plenty of energy and teenage exuberance.

Vara-tone Stomp dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A mid tempo really cool thing that is sorta like Dick Dale's "Motion." It's a cool and funky low rider surf tune with plenty of endearment and screams of joy from the band.

Rendezvous Run dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The title should tell you that this is a bow to Dick Dale's reign at the Rendezvous Ballroom. As such, it's a stompin rompin' R&B surf jam dance number. It has the feel of the hall and time it's named for.

Foot Patter dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

A very good surf cover of a great Fireballs tune. Lots of reverb and grind, like maybe the Space Cossacks might do. Very original interpretation.