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.

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Buy Flamin’ Groovies Here

Author: Martin Chamarette

 

 

 

 

 

The band that played a major role in the evolution of power pop and are considered a forerunner of punk rock readies two of their most popular albums
The Flamin’ Groovies played a major role in the evolution of power pop and are considered a forerunner of punk rock. This summer they will reissue two classic albums: “Now” on July 10th and “Jumpin’ In the Night” on August 7th.
While it took a long and torturous five years for the Flamin’ Groovies to find their way back to an American record deal with Shake Some Action, a year and a half later the band had a follow-up ready, and while 1978’s Flamin’ Groovies Now isn’t quite as cohesive as the album that preceded it, in many respects the band sounds at once tighter and more relaxed, with some time on the road firming up the rhythm section while giving the songs a bit more room to swing (which wasn’t one of the strong suits of the British Invasion bands that provided their aural template). The band lost guitarist James Ferrell during the post-Shake Some Action tour, but former Charlatans picker Mike Wilhelm proved to be a more than simpatico replacement on these sessions, and while leader Cyril Jordan didn’t come up with another new song as transcendent as “Shake Some Action,” “All I Wanted” comes pretty close. But it’s significant that most of the songs on Flamin’ Groovies Now are covers, and while all of them are played with love, enthusiasm, and the right period flair (especially the Beatles’ “There’s a Place,” Paul Revere & the Raiders’ “Ups and Downs,” and “Move It,” an early U.K. hit for Cliff Richard), they give the album a feeling of being padded, and just because covering the Rolling Stones rarity “Blue Turns to Grey” was a good idea didn’t mean the Flamin’ Groovies had any business tackling “Paint It Black.” All in all, Flamin’ Groovies Now is a terrific-sounding record that captures a fine band when it was in great form, but it also makes clear that the gremlins that often dogged the Groovies in the studio (namely their inability to make a 100 percent satisfying album) hadn’t gone away.
The third and last of the Flamin’ Groovies late-’70s albums for Sire, Jumpin’ in the Night storms out of the gate with the title song, a top-shelf rocker that brings the muscle of the Flamingo-era lineup of the Groovies to the more style-conscious British Invasion sonics of Cyril Jordan’s version. Though Jumpin’ in the Night never rocks that hard or that well again, it does sound decidedly tighter and tougher than 1978’s Flamin’ Groovies Now, and guitarist Mike Wilhelm, a new addition to the Now lineup, is much better integrated into their wall of guitars, with the Groovies sounding more solid than they did a year before. But while Jumpin’ in the Night finds the Flamin’ Groovies sounding better than ever, the material unfortunately lets them down. It’s no wonder why the Flamin’ Groovies loved the Byrds — both were American bands who fell in love with the sounds of British rock and crafted their own variation on the style — but three Byrds covers on this album is about two too many (especially given how clunky David Wright’s drumming sounds on “5D”), and though having the Groovies tackle “Absolutely Sweet Marie” and “Please Please Me” sounds good on paper, the audible results are a bit underwhelming. (On the other hand, their cover of “Werewolves of London” is better than anyone had a right to expect.) The production and engineering by Roger Bechirian is crisp and flattering to the guitars, but lacks the resonance of Dave Edmunds’ more layered approach on Shake Some Action and Now. A great band, the Flamin’ Groovies often seemed to have a hard time reconciling their best qualities with the record-making process, and Jumpin’ in the Night is probably the best example of this dilemma, though it has more than enough worthwhile moments to compensate.
Look out East Coast USA the kins of cool are coming to Shake Some Action on the East Coast through October.
FLAMIN’ GROOVIES 2019 EAST COAST TOUR DATES:

Wed. 10/23 – Northampton, MA – Iron Horse Music Hall (w/ The Figgs)
Thu. 10/24 – New Haven, CT – Café Nine (w/ Dust Hat)
Fri.  10/25 –  Somerville, MA – Once Ballroom – w/ Richard Lloyd, Tiger Bomb)
Sat. 10/26 – New York City – The Cutting Room (w/ Wreckless Eric)
Sun. 10/27 – New York City – The Cutting Room (w/ Walter Lure and the Waldos)
Tue. 10/29 – Philadelphia, PA – City Winery (w/ TBA)
Thu. 10/31 – Charlottesville, VA – The Southern (Halloween party for WTJU w/ New Boss, etc.)
Fri. 11/1 – Washington DC – City Winery (w/ Muck & the Mires)
Sat. 11/2 – Baltimore, MD – Creative Alliance (w/ The Stents)
Originating in San Francisco in 1965, and reunited for a tour of Australia in 2013, the FLAMIN’ GROOVIES have been touring and performing consistently for the last six years, exceeding all expectations, presenting their own unique and infectious style of rock ‘n’ roll with such cult classics as “Slow Death,” “Teenage Head” and of course, “Shake Some Action.” The current lineup features founding member Cyril Jordan with Chris von Sneidern on guitar, Tony Sales on drums, and newest member Atom Ellis on bass.
Expect a completely different show than their previous tours, featuring a repertoire that spans the band’s career, emphasizing both 1971’s “Teenage Head” album (associated with more old time rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, Stones and Yardbirds influences), as well as the power pop period (Beatles and Byrds influenced) more associated with the band’s three albums on Sire Records in the late ’70s.  Their place in history is well established as one of the all-time greatest bands from San Francisco (and the world) and as progenitors of real rock ‘n’ roll.
Chris von Sneidern has recorded a dozen albums as a solo artist, and is a highly-regarded name in the power pop genre. He and Tony Sales have been members of the Groovies for the last two years and things could not have worked out better. Tony Sales (whose father and uncle formed the rhythm section in David Bowie’s band, Tin Machine, and on some of Iggy Pop’s finest work) is an in demand session drummer, and just recently released the first album by his band, Ardent Sons. Atom Ellis has toured with many notable artists including Link Wray, Todd Rundgren, The New Cars, The Tubes, and as a member of Pyschefunkapus and Dieselhed.
Having recently completed a month-long tour of Europe the band is is top form, and great spirits.  They can’t wait to get back to the East Coast and some of the best cities and best fans in the world.
One of the best debut albums I’ve heard in quite some time happens to be ‘Out Of My Head’ it’s jam-packed with influences ranging from the good to the greats and the passion and energy poured into every groove of the LP is evident to the listener.  I tapped Matt up for an interview with RPM and he was happy to oblige.  If you’re lucky enough to have the band roll into a town near you I suggest you cancel whatever it is you’re doing and get down to the Rock and Roll show.  But hey check em out then support them and Dead Beat Records because we need more bands like this making music on labels like that.  So lets cut the crap and get down to the chatter that mattered  Ladies and Gents boys and girls  Matt from Poison Boys…
When did the band form and let us know a little about where you grew up and what inspired you guys to pick up an instrument and play Rock and Roll?
I grew up right outside of Chicago in Northwest Indiana, about 1 minute from the border of Illinois. Been obsessed with rock n roll since I was a kid. Me and my friend Mike Lippman had been playing in punk bands together since we were young teenagers and finally decided we wanted to start a rock n roll band. I played drums throughout those years but wanted to play guitar if it was a rnr band so started figuring out Ramones songs and went from there.
Can you remember what the first songs you wrote as a band was?  
Mike and I collaborated on nearly all of the early songs, he’d write riffs or I would, and I’d write vocals and he’d help me with the lines sometimes. First ones we wrote were Been Here All Night, Out of My Head, Cut Right Out, Bad Mouth, Without You and a couple of others. Unfortunately, Mike passed away before we could complete a lot of other songs which I ended up finishing later like Headed for Disaster, Got to Tease, and Up to the Sky among others. We always wanted it to be a well rounded rock n roll group, not just one specific sound the whole record or anything. But not to stray too far outside of the rock n roll spectrum.
You’ve released a couple of singles before the album came along with the first two being on the excellent UK label no front teeth.  How did that come about?  How did a label out of London pick up some guys in Chicago?  Is the line up stable now? your almost in Spinal Tap territory for past members already 
I found out about No Front Teeth from reading a PORK magazine and either seeing an NFT ad or a record review with NFT as the label it was released on. Just emailed Marco and he was super down to help us get our first (and second) 7″ out. Really I could not find any snotty punk labels in the states at all. Even now I only know of like 2 or 3 and that’s it. And if they aren’t interested or are too busy or whatever you turn to labels elsewhere that’s all.
As for the lineup… When people don’t wanna play rock n roll anymore or move out of state what do you do? The band hasn’t been around long enough to make much of an impression with anyone lineup, hasn’t had an LP or anything out prior to now so it didn’t matter to me. Granted I don’t exactly enjoy having members flake out or whatever but it is what it is. We’ve had a pretty solid lineup for about a year and a half or so with Matt “Chainz/the Chainblaster” Chaney on drums and Steve  “Stevsie/Stevie Poison” Elfinger on bass at home/guitar on the road, and touring members Nico Bones on bass and Julius Lange on guitar. It’s been pretty killer getting to know and hang with all of them.
The first single was back in 2016 then ’17 then you got White Zoo to release the last one last year.  Had you already signed up to dead beat to do the album by then?  How come you switched for the album? 
Dead Beat came about through me asking them earlier this year if they’d be interested in releasing the LP. They were very stoked especially after hearing the record, so we just had to finish up art and final mastering for it and it was a go. The 7″s were released on the other side of the pond, we were just looking for somewhere closer to get the records released by and knew Dead Beat had put out records by some of our favorite newer rock n roll bands.
Is there a chance of a European release for the record?  What about touring Europe and the UK?
We’d love for it to be released by a European label! Haven’t heard anything about that yet but time will tell I suppose. We plan to set up a European tour for hopefully next year.
As far as the album goes I was really pleased to hear plenty of influences in there and some choice covers.  Obviously, I have to ask why those covers? (apart from them being great songs) 
Well, I was listening to a Beatles singles comp called ‘Past Masters’ and heard a banging rocker called ‘Slow Down’. Knew it had to be a cover and found out Larry Williams was the original and sounded killer!! I figured we could pull it off and should give it a go. It delivers well live so we figured it’d be a good way to help open up the album and add more bitchin’ piano to it which we love big time. As for the Dead Boys cover… that one’s always been relatable to me and it fits with our style really well I think. It’s, of course, a tribute to them and our influences getting into punk at an early age.
I love the album and think it’s one of the best debut albums I’ve heard in an age and the attitude in the songs is superb – really authentic sounding. Is there a plan to tour then record some more? are you someone who writes all the time? 
Thanks man I really appreciate it. We worked hard on these songs and it’s good to finally let them have their day. Really nice to hear that people like them. We’re leaving for our “Out of My Head” East Coast/Canada Tour 2019 this week and beginning recording for our 2nd LP this week as well. Plenty still on the horizon for the Poison Boys. I write all the time even if it’s just little pieces and put them together as I go. Show ’em to the guys and get opinions and we work em out from there.
How has the reception been at the live shows?  How would you describe the scene over there in Chicago? is there much of an appetite for real rock and roll?
The live shows are killer and what we love the most. People seem to love it too and get down to our set so that’s cool. I think people need this type of rock n roll but just aren’t getting it much from bands these days. Not a lot of people go to rock n roll shows around here anymore unless it’s the Stones or KISS or something. A lot of bands around here either play washed out reverb’d out psychedelic shit or shoegaze or grunge or a mixture of all that. There’s like 3 bands in Chicago that don’t do that. As with many bands, the reception on the road is way greater than at home.
There seem to be pockets of superb music coming out of America right now – any chance you cats hooking u with bands like Wyldlife, Ravagers and The Sweet Things and stealing over here for a package tour?  Are there any bands you hear about currently tickling your fancy so to speak?
We generally like touring alone but are open to whatever if the situation’s right. One of our first shows ever was in Indianapolis in 2014 opening for Wyldlife. Alex from Ravagers does a lot of our artwork and we have a gig with our boys the Sweet Things coming up at Coney Island Baby in Manhattan in a couple weeks, Friday 8/02. Yeah favorite bands going on right now in the states are mostly in California, like Black Mambas, the Crazy Squeeze, the Flytraps, Dr. Boogie (although they just broke up), and also bands like Terry and Louie, our boys Jonesy from Montreal, the Rubs, our buds Big Blood from out here, stuff like that. And of course the Sweet Things out in NY. There’s a good amount of rock n roll going on elsewhere and I think it’s growing thankfully.
Listening to the album I hear some obvious inspirations from the likes of Dead Boys, Thunders, then I hear classic Stones and Faces – you guys have some of the swagger that made early Guns N Roses shine (tear Me Apart)  and I love the confidence of songs like ‘Up To The Sky’ but you can also mix it up like Hanoi Rocks on songs like ‘Desperado’   it opens up options for you to go in any direction what’s on in the van currently? What are you listening to?
We listen to old protopunk shit like Berlin Brats, Hollywood Brats, Razor Boys, Nervous Eaters, Rockpile, Flamin Groovies, Stooges, all that. A lot of Johnny Thunders and Dolls stuff of course, their solo stuff right after the Dolls broke up too. Hanoi Rocks, Dogs D’Amour. But also stuff like the Nuggets comps and other more obscure comps like the Bonehead Crunchers comps and shit like that. A ton of old punk bands like Menace, the Only Ones, Teenage Head, the Saints, Chelsea, Testors, Slaughter and the Dogs, Gen X… Then Mott the Hoople for 24 hours straight, Lou Reed, Kiss, T Rex, Motorhead, the Faces, Stones. All the goods all the time. Oh yeah and the RAMONES.
If there is anything you guys need to get off your chests here’s your chance.  Anything you’d like to add?
Come see us on tour!!! Buy merch, support rock n roll and keep us on the road. If you play rock n roll start a band get a shitty van and a mechanic friend and go tour. Keep this shit alive and growing and spread the love not shit talk and hate. We’re too small of a scene to be separated all the time by trivial cool guy bullshit and life’s too short to waste energy tearing each other down. It ain’t like the old days, we all know that… Rock n roll is so unimportant to modern society and we’re all we have left. We’re all in this together. Be inclusive there’s no room for hate against each other.
Buy The Album Here or coloured vinyl Here

With a brand new album out and in the shops the king of power pop took up our invitation to have a chat about his career and the new record.  He shouldn’t need an introduction but seeing as I’m here I’ll give him one for those of you not familiar with any of his work.  He began his recording career with The Nerves back in the early 70’s and weaved his tapestry through the halls Of Power Pop N Roll playing with his band The Beat and as a solo artist he’s penned many a classic tune and continues to this day recording records and playing shows he’s taken the stage with the likes of The Ramones and Green Day over the years and just put out one of the years best power pop albums ‘Out Of My Head’.

Back in the early days of The Nerves How come the three of you didn’t co-write the songs together back then?  
When I joined The Nerves I had not begun to write songs yet, it was only after hearing what Jack and Peter were writing that I decided I had to try too. Jack was the main writer at the time and he was adamant about keeping everything separate. Each of us were to write and sing our own songs. He was very helpful to me though. He spent a lot of time listening and critiquing my songs. He was a great mentor in that respect.
Did you ever imagine you’d be part of the band that spawned such a classic song as ‘Hanging On The Telephone’?  
I knew Hanging on the Telephone was a hit the moment I heard it. It was the first day that I had met Jack Lee, he played me the acetate of the demo he had made and it blew my mind!
Did you think your original version was the best?  
I am very proud of our version it stands up to the test of time.
Have you heard the Def Leppard version or L7’s?  
Yes, and I like the credit Def Leppard gave it on their record. 
After you settled on the west coast was it easy putting the band together?
Back then, The West Coast was a better environment for me and the kind of music I was trying to do. After The Nerves, I had the very good fortune to meet Steve Huff. He became my main songwriting partner for many years. Writing with people is a very personal thing, it has never been easy for me to do. I’m that regards I was very happy to meet Paul Stingo who I worked with on the last record, Out Of My Head.
Bomp have done a great job of reissuing all the older stuff that was pretty hard to get hold of and you managed the and sorted out the tours and stuff did that set you in good stead for later on trying to negotiate the deals?
I have been DIY now for many years, there isn’t a lot of hard negotiating really mostly verbal agreements with people who are more or less friends.
They put out the comp in the noughties with bonus unreleased previously songs is that it now the well completely dry or is there more to eventually come?
There might be a few odds and ends but most of the recorded unreleased tracks have been used.
Moving onto more recent times, were you contacted by Green Day for them to include a track on the American Idiot play?
They never contacted me, they just played the song quite frequently but they always told the audience who it was by, I really appreciated that.
Didn’t you join them on stage as well?  that must have been so cool.
Yes, I played ‘Walking Out Of Love’ with them (2 times in a row!) onstage at the Bowery Electric here in New York for the end of show party they had when ‘American Idiot’ closed. Billy Joe was extremely gracious to me, I will never forget how nice he treated me!
You played with a lot of influential punk bands back in the day when it was all fresh and new, how did the audiences take to the difference in sound from say the Germs and the Weirdos compared to your more melodic power pop.
At the time it seemed to me that the audience related more to The Germs and The Weirdos. We always seemed to be on the outside.
You’ve always championed bands and artists in a business that doesn’t always reward the best; hardest working bands or the most talented, who in your opinion were the ones who fell through the cracks are there any noticeable bands you were convinced were going to be stars?
It such a relative question, nowadays my idea of success has changed. If you can somehow make your living doing what you love then you are a success. I think if you can stay in the game that’s a big part of it. That’s what I am trying to do.
From the king of power pop until this year’s release you’ve released three albums with Alive is it as enjoyable making records as it sounds?
Actually making a record is always a pretty gutwrenching experience. I am constantly ripping it apart and building it up again in an effort to make it as good as possible.
Your records always sound like they were made with a smile on your face and you are totally happy with what your doing would that be a fair assumption?
No, but that is the trick, you have to make it sound effortless even though you drive yourself nuts trying to do it!
How do you find recording now compared to back in the 70’s is it easier with technology or not?
It has never been easy and hopefully, it never will. I think you have to make a big effort to create something worthwhile.
In fact, it seems like everyone is trying to get back to recording as we did back in the 70’s!
You’ve also recorded with some exceptional players like Chuck Prophet, Greg and Cyril from the Flaming Groovies to name a few do you get a bigger buzz now making a record or touring?
I enjoy what I am doing a lot now mainly because I think I am more in the present. It was a great experience making the Paul Collins record in SF I got to record with so many fantastic musicians, that record will always be a special one for me!
You also do your own management and play an active role with new bands trying to break through.  Is that still exciting for you or is the industry still a massive ballache.
It’s a tough business that is for sure! Being DIY has its pros and cons, the pros are you pretty much get to do what you want. I have come to accept my position in the business and I’m ok with it. I do what I love to do, more or less on my own terms.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received
From Jimmy the Greek who owned The Downbeat in SF. “You gotta have tight beginnings and tight endings and everyone will think you’re great!”
What advice would you give to a hungry young band looking to someone of your skill and status for advice and guidance?
Work your ass off and never give up!
Finally, when do you begin work on the next album?
Still basking in the afterglow of this one!
and what about some shows in the UK?
Love too, it’s just a matter of working out the logistics.
so until he hits the road and someone in the UK offers him some dates I guess we’ll have to make do with the records which is no bad deal.  So thanks to Paul for taking the time to chat to RPM now go check out the new album at the link.

PAUL COLLINS BEAT “Out of My Head” EURO TOUR 2019 – Buy tickets here
This tour will be done completely by train, a new model for the new millennium of touring! Arrive alive and on time!

Feb 7 Stockholm Melodybox
Feb 8 Malmo Folk å Rock
Feb 9 Hamburg Nochtwache
Feb 12 Mannheim Altes Volksbad
Feb 14 Berlin Cortina Bob
Feb 15 Essen Freak Show
Feb 16 Kortrijk Den Trapp
Feb 17 Utrecht dB’s
Feb 18 Brussels CHAFF
Feb 19 France Orleans Blue Devils
Feb 20 France TBA
Feb 21 Clermont-Ferrand Bombshell
Feb 22 Saint-Etienne Le Clapier
Feb 23 France TBA
Feb 25 Alicante Sala Stereo
Feb 27 Valencia Loco Club
Feb 28 Madrid Fun House
Mar 1 Spain TBA
Mar 2 Spain Segovia