A ROUGH GUIDE TO… THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES

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The guys have been recording material for a new EP due this year.

WHO

Gritty 70’s pub and proto-punk rockers, best known for their pioneering power pop song “”. The Flamin’ Groovies are an underestimated, eight album strong American 4-piece perhaps as fundamental to the pre punk scene as The Stooges or the New York Dolls.

WHERE

The Flamin’ Groovies formed in San Francisco, California in 1965. Originally Ron Greco led the band as guitarist and vocalist, founding the Flamin’ Groovies alongside lead guitarist Cyril Jordan and lead singer Roy Loney. Although their first album wasn’t released until 1969, the band gigged relentlessly. Their heavy pop rock sound led to some dubbing them as ‘forerunners of punk rock’.

HISTORY

The band first formed under the name Chosen Few and changed to The Flamin’ Groovies just before their first self-released10-inch album, Sneakers. This led to the Flamin’ Groovies grabbing the attention of Columbia Records and the band were signed to the Epic label, gaining them a budget to record their first full-length LP, Supersnazz. The band operated under a guitar driven, 50’s style rock influence, recording and releasing two more albums, Kama Sutra (home of their heroes, The Lovin’ Spoonful): Flamingo and Teenage Head before lead singer Roy Loney left the band in 1791. The rest of The Flamin’ Groovies moved to England under the direction of lead guitarist Cyril Jordan.

At this point guitarist and singer Chris Wilson, previously in Loose Gravel, took over as front man and the band began pioneering a strain of captivatingly edgy music, which came to be known as power pop. Between 71’ and 76’ little was heard from The Flamin’ Groovies, aside from their 1972 anti-drug song ‘Slow Death’ (co-written by Loney). But by 1976, the band’s inordinate power pop direction was to be exemplified when they teamed up with British producer Dave Edmunds to record their enduring anthem ‘Shake Some Action’.

This re-launched their prominence and the band signed to Sire Records in 1976, and released three highly acclaimed power pop albums; Shake Some Action, Flamin’ Groovies Now, and Jumpin’ In The Night.

At the end of the 70’s Wilson left to join the Barracudas whilst Roy Loney moved on to form the Phantom Movers featuring the original Groovies drummer Danny Mihm and former Groovies guitarists James Ferrell and Larry Lea with Maurice Tani on bass. The band had a popular underground following and were signed to the Raven label in Australia. They released an number of albums including a greatest hits compellation (‘A Hundred Miles an Hour 1978-1989’).

Meanwhile The Groovies continued on throughout the 80’s and early 90’s. The band toured Australia and Europe and also released the overlooked album Rock Juice before splitting in 1992. Wilson went on to release solo albums in Europe whilst Jordan formed a new band called Magic Christian.

Though the past decade has been scatted with brief reformations and encounters between band mates. In 2004 The Flamin’ Groovies played a one off headline show for Azkena rock festival in Mendizabala, Spain on September 11th 2004. Later, in 2008 Loney and Jordan reunified and took part in a short tour together with support from the Yo La Tego and The A- Bones.

On the 2010 Chris Wilson album Love Over Money (Released on the French Rock Paradise Label), ex Groovies members Roy Loney, George Alexander, James Ferrell and Mike Wilhelm all featured on the CD beside performances from legendary keyboardist Matthem Fisher (Procol Harum) and Barracudas guitarist Robin Wills.

WHY

Finally, over two decades after the initial split Jordan, Wilson and bass player George Alexander reunited in 2013. Chris Wilson said ‘I’d recorded some songs and I thought “let’s get George and Cyril involved.” Modern recording techniques—the whole digital revolution—had changed things.’ This marked the first time the three had played together since1981. Taking Victor Penalosa on board as their new drummer, the four-piece began not only recording brand new material, but also completing some of their earlier material, which has never been released. The revival has drawn in new audiences who missed the Flamin’ Groovies in the 60’s and 70’s.

Their first reunion concert series was in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth for the Hoodoo Gurus invitational Dig It Up. The band then went on to play a series of sold out shows in Japan before returning to San Francisco on May 4th. The Flamin; Groovies homecoming show at The Elbo Room sold out in less then 24 hours, where they thrilled fans with a set list featuring a host of their early hits as well as a number of songs never performed live before.

Recently The Flamin’ Groovies released “End of the World.” This is the first Flamin’ Groovies song Cyril Jordan/Chris Wilson have penned since 1979 and will be featured on the new EP, due this year.

 

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