I was inspired to write this post, as tomorrow evening the Cyril Jordan- Chris Wilson version of The Flamin' Groovies are gonna be playing the tiny Elbo Room club in San Francisco (their ONLY US show, as a matter of fact). This gig sold out immediately, and you best BELIEVE I'm gonna be there. I've had the pleasure of seeing Cyril & Roy Loney recreate the warped insanity of the Flamingo/ Teenage Head era, but have never had the chance to see Cyril and power pop vocalist extraordinairre Chris Wilson together.
Back in those pre-internet days, I'd read about the Groovies in Goldmine magazine and such and they just sounded like the coolest band I could imagine! However, at the time EVERYTHING was out of print and my their records never turned up in my flea market/ garage sale digging and the bin cards in the used record stores were always empty. Luckily, in the early '90's a US CD compilation called Greatest Grooves was released and FINALLY I got to hear these songs I'd been reading about; they DID NOT DISAPPOINT and as a young music fanatic I was immediately struck by the obvious passion for music that these guys have shown on their releases. I spent the next several years collecting every piece of Groovies wax I could get my hands on (still kicking myself though for not buying an original copy of Sneakers at Reckless Records in Chicago back around 1992; THIRTY FIVE dollars just seemed like a king's ransom to spend on a record.
The first actual piece of Groovies vinyl that I found and purchased was shortly afterwords at the amazing (defunct) Record Swap in Homewood, IL. I can't say that I play Supersnazz very often, but I was sure glad to find it for $3.99. 'The First One's Free" was drawn from that album, and the loose and bluesy track (who else but the Groovies would feature a guitar intro with a few seconds of tuning up? too damn cool!) is heard here in a unique mono 45 mix, and sounds a tad more powerful than the LP as well.
The group was dropped by Epic records after this one LP failed to take off commercially, and they were signed to Kama Sutra for the incredible one-two knockout of Flamingo (1970) and Teenage Head (1971); two records that show the group in their most powerful era of Roy Loney's reign as lead singer. Once again, success eluded the band and Roy Loney decided he had had enough of the music business, and left the group to focus on acting. Cyril Jordan enlisted Chris Wilson (ex- Loose Gravel) into the fold as lead singer, and the group left San Francisco for an extended stay in England. Working with Dave Edmunds as producer, the group cut several tracks, of which the only ones released at the time were "Slow Death" backed with a raucous take on Freddy Cannon's 'Tallahassee Lassie".
buy it here.
The group were unable to release ANY records until Cyril Jordan presented Who Put The Bomp fanzine publisher with the astounding "You Tore Me Down", and suggested that Greg release it in late '74. The track, as produced again by Dave Edmunds, is one of *the* key power pop cuts, and was the first release on Bomp! Records in 1975. Unfortunately, there was no college radio at the time and Bomp had no distribution power, but the record recieved massive praise from critics which landed the Groovies a contract at Sire Records, where they cut the Shake Some Action LP; the title cut of which FINALLY provied Cyril and the Groovies a belated hit with its inclusion in the 1995 film Clueless.