San Franciscoâ€™s Flaminâ€™ Groovies broke into the underground with a string of critically revered records – Sneakers, Supersnazz, Flamingo and Teenage Head – whose lack of commercial success drove the band to musical itinerancy. By 1971, founder Roy Loney had left the band, and his co-founder, Cyril Jordan joined with Chris Wilson to shift the band from retro- and blues-influenced rock â€˜nâ€™ roll towards British-invasion styled pop. They resurfaced in the UK five years later, releasing the iconic â€œShake Some Actionâ€ and three albums full of solid originals and covers of the Beatles, Byrds and others.
But much like the bandâ€™s original lineup, the revised and revitalized Groovies garnered critical accolades, but didnâ€™t break through commercially. Chris Wilson left the band in 1980, and though various configurations and editions of the group have reunited and toured off and on, itâ€™s been nearly forty years since Cyril Jordan and Chris Wilson have collaborated on new material. For this reunion, they recorded with original Groovies bassist George Alexander and latter-day drummer Victor Penalosa over the course of three years, laying down ten originals and covers of the Beau Brummels and NRBQ.
The band charges out of the gate with the Stones-ish â€œWhat the Hellâ€™s Goinâ€™ On,â€ reaching back to the bandâ€™s bluesier roots (though oddly crossed with the central riff of John Mellancampâ€™s â€œHurts So Goodâ€) and playing to Jordan and Wilsonâ€™s guitar chemistry. There are numerous moments that rekindle memories of the bandâ€™s jangly 1970s Sire albums, including the harmonies of â€œShe Loves Me,â€ the hopeful â€œLonely Hearts,â€ the Shadows-styled instrumental â€œIâ€™d Rather Spend My Time with Youâ€ and a cover of NRBQâ€™s â€œI Want You Bad.â€ The chime reaches its apex with the Byrdsian closer â€œCryinâ€™ Shame.â€
There are dabs of psychedelia on â€œEnd of the Worldâ€ and the jammy coda to their cover of â€œDonâ€™t Talk to Strangers.â€ Thereâ€™s also a defiant anthem, â€œLet Me Rock,â€ that would have sounded at home at the Grande. Jordan and Wilson lean to the groupâ€™s British rebirth, but give their due to the bandâ€™s full range of blues, R&B, rock, rockabilly and pop roots. Jordanâ€™s original cover art pays tribute to Jack Davisâ€™ cover for Monster Rally and RCAâ€™s Living Stereo logo, and the CD is screened with an homage to the Laurie Records label. The retro touches are nice, especially for an album thatâ€™s a great deal more vital rock â€˜nâ€™ roll than nostalgic rehash. [Â©2017 Hyperbolium]