With the mighty Flamin’ Groovies being the sound of summer chez moi, it seems appropriate to review this double CD live release from Cleopatra Records. With the lion’s share of tracks being from the Roundhouse gig of 1978, and the rest from the Imperial College in 1976, this is the classic line up of Jordan, Wilson and Alexander. On the one hand, this was the band at the height of their live power, tight and focussed. On the other, I’d really like to hear the Roy Loney era gigs, to absorb his more unhinged approach.

1978 kicks off with ‘Between The Lines’, and it’s a reminder that we’re lucky to have The Speedways nowadays. It’s a similar knack with a tune, simple but somehow clever at the same time. ‘Lady Friend’ shows their talent for melding Beatles and Byrds melodies without sounding too earnest, which makes the inclusion of two Beatles songs all the more puzzling. ‘Please, Please Me’ and ‘From Me To You’ are decent enough homages, the drummer nailing Ringo’s hi-hat shenanigans, and the crowd sound happy. Maybe the band wanted to move away from the Loney material, but didn’t have too many songs to choose from?

However, we do get to hear the classic ‘Don’t Put Me On’, which is essentially ‘Shake Some Action’ Part 2 (this isn’t a criticism!). It remains one of my favourite songs, and currently, in France, the fabulous François Premiers do a cracking version. Along with ‘House Of Blue Light’ and ‘Reminiscing’, there’s Cliff’s legendary ‘Move It’, which feels like a better choice of cover version.

1976 has to include ‘Shake Some Action’, obviously, still one of the best songs ever. Sound quality is a little shaky (sorry), but worth hearing nonetheless. You don’t want a slick sound, do you? It’s beautiful as it is. ‘I’ll Cry Alone’ is gloriously melancholy, while the run through of ‘Miss Amanda Jones’ might remind Mick and Keith to dust it off whilst they still can. And they rattle through ‘Hey, Hey, Hey!’ in a manner to get Jim Jones’ foot tapping.

Also included is an alternative take of ‘Slow Death’ and the Courettes’ mix of ‘Shake Some Action’, which is pleasant enough with its Spector Sound and added drums, but you can’t improve on the original. So, if you want to experience the 60s by way of visiting the 70s, this is a fine destination, daddio.

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Author: Martin Chamarette