Reissued on CD by MVD on 10th July and 7th August respectively
Finally, I can get my mitts on a decent quality cd of The Flamin’ Groovies’ ‘Now’ album. While they never recaptured the heights of ‘Shake Some Action’ (though 2017’s ‘Fantastic Plastic’ is a fine attempt), ‘Now’ is still worthy of a place in your collection. In common with Dr Feelgood, they clearly had problems in writing enough songs, so both albums are half-filled with cover versions. Some work better than the originals, some not so much.
Starting with their major influence, The Byrds, ‘Feel A Whole Lot Better’ is the sound of a band playing a song they love. It doesn’t need changing, so they didn’t. ‘Between The Lines’ showed that they could still find their chops. It has that undefinable something. ‘Ups And Downs’ is a cheesy, upbeat tune, but they make it sound fun. Cliff’s ‘Move It’ was always going to be a great choice, and I still love it.
‘Take Me Back’ is one of two classic Groovies songs on here. Wistful and beautiful, with that perfect jangle of guitars. Dave Edmunds’ production got the best out of the songs. ‘Don’t Put Me On’ is the second; almost on a par with ‘Shake..’, it could only be the Groovies. It’s hard to explain to anyone who is unfamiliar with them just why their best songs are so great, iconic even. If you’ve tried writing songs, you’ll know that there is magic here.
‘All I Wanted’ is another good, original song, very Beatley, unsurprisingly. ‘Good Laugh Mun’ and ‘Yeah, My Baby’ were co-written with Edmunds, who understood their sound perfectly. Two Stones songs in a row is a tad ambitious; ‘Blue Turns To Grey’ suits them better than ‘paint It Black’, and the album ends on a perfunctory ‘There’s A Place’.
A year later, and ‘Jumpin’ In The Night’ starts well with the title track. It drives along nicely, and reflects their live sound. ‘Next One Crying’ is a Stones-style original, while ‘First Plane Home’ is back in Byrds territory. ‘In The USA’ is a straight ahead Chuck Berry fest, while James Burton’s ‘Down, Down, Down’ is not the strongest choice of song. ‘Yes I Am’ is a better original, as is ‘Tell Me Again’. ‘Please, Please Me’ is the obligatory Beatles cover, though ‘Werewolves Of London’ is weirdly very good, better than the original. McGuinn’s ‘It Won’t Be Wrong’ and ‘5D’ work well, but I could do without ‘Absolutely Sweet Marie’ and David Crosby’s ‘Lady Friend’. The overall sound is too light, and it runs out of gas halfway through.
The best of each would make a good album, but for me, ‘Now’ has the sound and personality of the Groovies.
Buy Flamin’ Groovies Here
Author: Martin Chamarette