Sunday, October 31, 2010

BLOG TO COMM: Flamin' Groovies Re-dux

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You hated the fanzine, now hate the blog!

Sunday, October 31, 2010
You're gettin' another ramble-on this week. Chalk it up to the economy drive (which I'll get around somehow, so don't worry Kyoko) and a general yawn-inspiring existence that's typical of this 21st century miasma we're now wallowing in. If you think that I'm a particularly slothful person the rest of the year you should see me now...I think it all has to do with the change in the weather and the impending lack of sunlight that gets those ol' brain syntaxes snappin', but I've been wrong before and could be again.
Since there ain't been any new material scooting its way to my door thanks to the self-imposed depression here at BTC HQ, I've been digging further and further into the archives for tasty treats that I've somehow let slip to the back ot the bus. And considering the hefty Flamin' Groovies homage paid last post I figured why not dig up a few more of their platters which I must admit to having ignored these past coupla years, rockism ingrate that I am. A shame too, since the Groovies were just as important to the early-seventies bubbling under the surface hotcha rock scene as the Stooges and Dolls, and the fact that most wonks out there don't rank 'em up with those acts only goes to show you what short shrift the Groovies continue to get even from the kinda folk you thought would be front and center cheering on the lads like they did with every other outta the garage combo of the seventies and onwards! And hey, some of those groups weren't even worthy of the slightest "rah" let alone their own cheerleading section, and that gets me blood boiling mad!

It's as important to define the difference between the early Flamin' Groovies and the latter variation just as much as it is to do the same regarding the Velvet Underground. The early Groovies were born of mid-sixties San Francisco at its best with a heavy influx of Detroit high energy and perhaps some Velvet Underground for good measure. The later group was a return to the British Invasion roots which yielded a number of highly entertaining albums which also made for wondrous late-seventies cut out consumption. And yeah, I guess we can argue from here to Odessa and back as to which version of the Groovies was the best'n all, but right now I'm concentratin' on those early recordings where the Groovies were doing a three-way teeter between fifties homage, mid-sixties goodtimeyness and late-sixties high energy. Quite a combination to mix up there, and believe it or not but the Groovies were able to do it all with relative ease 'stead of ending up looking like a doof cross between Sha Na Na and the Jefferson Airplane'r somethin'!
Although it may seem like heresy to some of you regular readers I absolutely positively did not cozy up to FLAMINGO when I first gave it a spin way back in that transitional in more ways'n one year of 1978. Looking back from a gulping thirty-two years it's hard for me to understand why considering how this sleeper really said way more 'bout rock as an up-and-throbbing entity than anything hitting the airwaves but I gander it was my own nebbish nervousness combined with a lack of direction (after all, I was feeling out music of all sorts by myself on my lonesome w/o any sibling or peer guidance unlike the vast majority of you) which eventually led to a whole number of stupid gaffes and other goofs especially when it came to picking the right records to pick up at flea markets. Excuses aside I can't see how FLAMINGO would fail to satisfy a great many rock & roll maniacs of the day who sorta got their teeth cut on old instrumental rock 45's and came of age with the Stones and Byrds then got left in the dark with the hippoid upheaval of the late-sixties. Just what Doc Rock ordered stuff here with an overall mood that was pretty alien to the mode of the music changing to Melanie in the earlier portion of that decade. With a rockabilly base shuffled through the Stones and strained through the best that San Fran was offering. Served up on a Detroit-inspired platter too making me wonder how those legendary gigs with the Stooges, Alice and MC5 went over with the teen polloi of the day.

The Big Beat reish I'm spinning also has a flurry of bonus tracks including a take of "Walking the Dog", "Louie Louie", "Rockin' Pneumonia" obviously laid down a few years prior to the United Artists waxing and even Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else", a deed which seems pretty reactionary considering that this was recorded in '70 and not even those Sha Na Na types'd think of covering anything as radical as that!
Seventy-one's TEENAGE HEAD's the album that did it for me...still remember starin' at the cover in the cutout bins of '76 (which is, due to financial restraints, a place where I spent a whole lotta time) wond'rin' what these guys with the teenybop name sounded like. That cover shot was the eventual selling point and probably thee single most important pic that relayed to my bean what punk rock was in look and overall snot teenage pout...that I do remember. I also remember being warned not to buy the thing because it was nothing but a load of primitive and puerile palpatations created by a buncha bozos who thought they could play their gear after one free lesson won on the local AM station. And if that wasn't enough to get my juices flowing then NOTHING was!

The entire platter's a winner natch and quite a surprise from a guy who had spent the previous few months spinning SHAKE SOME ACTION expectin' the same thing. (At the time I was unaware of the early/later Groovies dichotomy mentioned above---hey, it wasn't like I had every issue of ROCK SCENE at my disposal!). But hey, I loved this 'un from the first spin on and continue to for many a reason, the nice crunchy feel amongst 'em. The loose atmosphere also helps and the fact that R. Meltzer himself post-Blue Oyster Cult/pre-Vom and pre-pre Smegma helped out on background vocals helped even more (I was looking for hooks regarding reasons to dig the music even back then!). And the fact that TEENAGE HEAD mixes and matches early-seventies underground rock ideals with fifties accomplishment filtered through mid-sixties attitude also made this a platter that, along with ELECTRIC WARRIOR, stands as one of the shiningest examples of what rock & roll could have aspired to in the sometimes doldrum year of '71 back when all of the good gunch was being ignored and the best way one could up their status at school was by flaunting the Carole King, James Taylor and various CSN&Y platters in their possession.

Gee, if I really wanted to be on the outs maybe I shoulda picked up a Stooges album to parade through the grade school halls, that is if I could afford to buy one let alone knew who the Stooges were at the time!

The Big Beat version also includes a slew of additional tracks, some of which I believe ended up on the b-side to the STILL SHAKIN' '76 cash in as well as a number of Eva albums that came out in France in the eighties. Whatever, it's nice hearin' 'em in this context and I must admit that their version of "Rumble" is just as good as Kim Fowley's and even Smegma's, but then again who could ruin a cover of that Link Wray classic unless some lame amerindie band did it or maybe even a buncha hippies joking around after downing a bottle of Boone's Farm?

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pahprint said...

Great veritably eclectic and 'f*** you' all at once site.
Trust me, I know about these things . . .

pahprint said...


I trust you are aware of Teenage Head a legendary band here in Canada, specifically out of Hamilton, Ontario. Name taken of course from . . .

RIP Frankie. You da saint of miscreant musical madness and all out of Steeltown North. Who knew??