Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Vara-tones - Headin' Outdotdotdotdotdot
artworkMy first reaction on seeing this was "it's about time!" Once in the player, I turned to "remarkable!" As I wrote the review, I shifted to an utterly satisfied "superb!" This is simply grand!

One of the endearing things about the Vara-tones is their tendency to use their name in their song titles in ways that bring a grin.
Picks: Headin' Out, Pipeline, The V-Factor, Tickler, Prima Vara, Ramrods 'n' Hotrods, Surf Rider, Surf Man, Mrs. Moto, Ocean Meets Land, Reverberator, Rockin' The Beach, Thingamajig, Beyond The Blue, Soupy Sez, Nite Creatures, Siboney

Track by Track Review


Headin' Out dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Headin' Out" is a heavily reverbed track with a chunky sound and punch. The melody riff is both unusual and intriguing. There is mystery, surf, and danger here. The heaviness of the chunk really commands attention.

Pipeline dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This version of "Pipeline" features really strong balance between the pumpin' rhythm guitar and the rich long vibrato shimmer of the lead. The double picked verse adds variety, as does the shimmer of the lead in the break. The power and the throb of "Pipeline" with the stark beauty of "Pipeline." Magnificent!

The V-Factor dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

You might ask, "just what is the v-factor?" Simply put, it's the heavy chunk of the reverb. "The V-Factor" is mysterious and kinds desert surf meets alien invasion with drama. This song is not only alone in it's sound and structure, it's very cool. Magnificent!

Tickler dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

The Sherwoods' "Tickler" gets the full Vara-tones treatment. Perfectly matched to their style and flair, and arranged as if they wrote it, this obscure sixties gem seems somehow made for them. Totally cool, and the drums rock!

Prima Vara dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Heavy stomp and thick chomp, Bill's deluxe glissandos, and more. "Prima Vara" has an infectious sound born of dark fury and optimism. It's lovely, it's heavy, and it's spectacular.

Ramrods 'n' Hotrods dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Inspired by a merger between Al Casey's "Ramrod," the Duals' "Stick Shift," and the Fireballs' "Bulldog," this is so smoothly and completely merged that it just melts together into one seamless new song. Brilliant! Also called "Ram Shift Dog."

Surf Rider dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It's a pleasure to hear a cover of this lush surf epic that's both reverent and trad, and also sparklingly full throated and richly textured. The fine performance and perfect reverb, along with some liquid flights of fancy and dribbling glissandos round out "Surf Rider." Totally cool!

Surf Man dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

With a nearly ska rhythm brought in, Richard Podolor's splendid "Surf Man" (a.k.a. "Cave Man") gets new life and sultry vibrato. The shimmer and heavy richness of Bill's guitar played against the great backtrack creates a splendid listening experience. Superb!

Mrs. Moto dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

It's nice to see that the Vara-tones have cut a solid version of the song Bill Epps brought to Splashback a few years back. The durable melody and rich tone, and the grumbly damped rhythm bring a new dimension to "Mrs. Moto."

Ocean Meets Land dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Wonderful muted rhythm in this melody and fluid track. The wonderful melody has an island mystery about it that lures you in. Beautiful and very seductive.

Reverberator dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Reverberator" is a heavy track with splendid glissandos and fire in its bones. A great forward moving beat and wonderfully original melody line, coupled with very compelling sound, create one heck of a surf instro!

Rockin' The Beach dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Slightly reminiscent of the Toys' "A Lover's Concerto," this becomes instantly likable. references to the ventures and a very warm melody brings "Rockin' The Beach" to the grinning side of the aisle.

Thingamajig dotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

"Thingamajig" is a Freddy King-ish jam with a beach party R&B styling. Groovin' with bluesy cool, and purely fun for the party.

Beyond The Blue dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Bill Epps' "Beyond The Blue" is a song he has recorded with Splashback before. This utterly gorgeous song is richly Spanish flavored, tropically breezed, and lazily drifting... a magnificent sojourn to an undiscovered cove. Very pretty.

Soupy Sez dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Thunder and the kind of rich power that Dick Dale's vintage rhythm monsters generated, and a catchy riff somewhat like a pre surf epic rage. Very powerful and ultra rich surf tone!

Nite Creatures dotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

Pure trad... whammy... dribbling guitar... surf rhythms... and that recognizable Bill Epps sense of structure. A mere wisp of the fragrance of Jon and the Nightriders. Really nice track!

Siboney dotdotdotdotdot
Surf (Instrumental)

This is a gloriously wonderful version of Ernesto Lacuona's classic "Siboney," with the arrangement based on Johnny Fortune's, but all reverbed out and with a gently chunk. Splendid!