Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Vara-tones - Jetty Subject To High Surfdotdotdotdotdot
artworkAfter a 36 year lapse, the Vara-tones have finally issued a full new CD. Lead Guitarist Bill Epps (Splashback) has previously enticed me with DAT's of this band in rehearsal and demos as well. I've been waiting impatiently since then for this C D to come out. The wait is over, and it was well worth it. If you like the chunkier side of Splashback, you'll LOVE s this CD! All of these songs were written by Bill Epps, except "Repeto'" which comes down from them early days of the Vara-tones.
Picks: Surf Blaster, Over The Edge, El Sereno, Invasion Of The V-People, Midnight In Mazatlan, The Jetty, Rendezvous Run, Vara-tone Stomp, Varafied, Repeto 2000, Sunset At The Wedge, Groo-V-Chicken, Drumbox, Repeto

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.

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.

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.

Midnight In Mazatlan dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This fine tune is Spanish luxuriant, with rich tone and swimming whammy chords. Really nicely delivered, and very warm. Makes you wanna sit on the beach at sunset. The melody riff reminds me of a line from "A Fool Such As I."

The Jetty dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Big crunch and churn, like a storm surge bowling over a jetty. It's a huge and driven tune, with a monstrous power. Mean, nasty, and very dangerous.

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.

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.

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!

Repeto 2000 dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Like "Repeto '97," this is even more updated with rhythmic chunk and spectacular drive. Fun, spunky, melodic, playful, and power jived. This is a remake of the Vara-tones's 1964 single. Infectious.

Sunset At The Wedge dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Waves lap at the shore as the guitar paints images of orange spies and swaying palms. Beautiful, romantic, and gorgeous. The warmth in this track is almost physical. Hard to forget, eager to listen again. Stunning!

Groo-V-Chicken dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

That great chicken boppin' clucking, a surfabilly fun fest, and playful, almost laughing riffs. The glissandoes are very fun.

Drumbox dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Suave and fluid, warm and groovy, and shimmering with vibrato. "Drumbox" displays a charm and unique structure. The drum solo is delicate and tribal. Quite a nice track.

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.