Ace Records has issued more Fireballs and Fireballs-related compilations than anyone might have thought possible when the CD era popularized catalog raids. Even by the standards of their other Fireballs projects, however, Exotic Guitars from the Clovis Vaults stands out as particularly fanatical, or barrel-scraping, depending on your view. About half of the 30-track, 74-minute anthology was previously unreleased. A dozen other cuts appeared on a 1968 LP actually credited to another primarily instrumental group that recorded at Norman Petty's studio in Clovis, NM, the String-A-Longs. But though that LP, Wide World Hits by the String-A-Longs, was credited to the String-A-Longs, it was actually recorded by the Fireballs under the String-A-Longs' name. Got all that? If not, the story's explained by Ace's typically conscientious liner notes. Only major Fireballs fans, however, are likely to be enticed by this compilation, built as it is around the Wide World Hits album, dominated by late-'60s hits performed in the String-A-Longs' idiosyncratic Tex-Mex instrumental rock style (even to the point of the Fireballs playing through Magnatone amplifiers to simulate the String-A-Longs' style, with some embellishment by Petty on keyboards). The unreleased cuts include five outtakes, all of them lacking keyboard overdubs, from Wide World Hits; all of the five are covers of late-'60s hits, though the LP itself did include some original material. There are also other unissued odds and ends from the Fireballs' vault, none of them too earth-shattering or different from their official output. Other rarities include the 1969 non-LP single "Popi," another Fireballs track issued under the String-A-Longs' name, and the 1963 single "Little Toy"/"Holiday Love," issued as credited to Guitars, Inc. and performed in the String-A-Longs' style (though performed by the Fireballs).
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger