3 Balls of Fire
Jet Set Guitars (Deep Eddy)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., April 11, 2008
3 Balls of FireJet Set Guitars (Deep Eddy)
With their latest shaken-and-stirred salvo, local surf-rock institution 3 Balls of Fire takes a more sophisticated tack that evokes Palm Springs as much as Redondo Beach. Guitarist Mike Vernon and crew prove their endless summer mettle right off the bat with staccato-fueled "Wild Fire," but they also take a cue from venerable instrumental rockers like the Ventures and branch out. The vibraphone-heavy title track cultivates a boozy, adult-contemporary mood that wouldn't be out of place between Les Baxter and Herb Alpert. "1970" acknowledges the hazy echo of psychedelia as a flash-fried drive-in movie score, then p(l)ays tribute to West Texas-bred proto-surf rockers the Fireballs with a jaunty version of "Las Vegas Scene" featuring pianist Earl Poole Ball. A wordless cover of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" sounds cherry-picked from a vintage LP of 1960s instrumental gold. As its title implies, Jet Set Guitars goes to places a surfboard can't take you to.