Starts this week in Toronto. And if you have been paying attention, this band is a hands-down fave among a majority of the Blurt editorial staff…
By Uncle Blurt
Sometimes we are just gobsmacked at the improbable nature of it all – that would be rock ‘n’ roll, of course. And learning that the Flamin’ Groovies were back in action, powered by the estimable core 1971-80 members Cyril Jordan, George Alexander and Chris Wilson (along with latterday drummer Victor Penalosa), we had already been trying to determine what airports in what cities we might all converge upon to have a full Groovies summit.
See ya in Boston, Jud. The band, having just completed tours of Japan and Australia early this year, followed by dates in June and July in London, NYC, San Francisco and LA, is set to treat North America to such cult classics as “Slow Death,” “Shake Some Action” and “You Tore Me Down.” You can see the initial list of dates, with more apparently to be announced, below. Lord have mercy, they are playing a Norton Recs event… roll over Beethoven, and tell Miriam Linna the news.
Meanwhile, we learn there’s also an EP of new material in the works.
At the bottom is a Groovies primer for those of you who walked in late, just ‘cos we wanna help you to burst out at full speed, Groovies style…
Wed. Nov. 6 Lee’s Palace – Toronto, Canada
Fri. Nov. 8 Magic Stick – Detroit, MI
Sat. Nov. 9 Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH
Tue. Nov. 12 U Street Music Hall – Washington, DC (w/ The Young Sinclairs)
Thu. Nov. 14 8pm at Radio – Boston, MA (w/ The Connection & Andy Shernoff)
Fri. Nov. 15 Norton Records bash @ Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY (w/ THE SONICS)
Wed. Nov. 20 The New Parish – Oakland, CA
THE BACKSTORY: The Flamin’ Groovies story goes all the way back to 1965 when the band began as the Chosen Few in their hometown of San Francisco. After a name change and a self-released 10 inch album called Sneakers, which sold amazingly well, the band caught the attention of Columbia who signed them up and sent them into the studio with a big budget to record their first real album, Supersnazz, on the Epic label. Their next two albums were on Kama Sutra (home of their heroes, The Lovin’ Spoonful): Flamingo and the now revered classic Teenage Head.
Lead singer Roy Loney left the band right after that and lead guitarist Cyril Jordan moved the group to England with Chris Wilson (formerly of Loose Gravel) taking over as front man. They continued their style of straight ahead guitar driven rock n’ roll but this time with a more ’60s rather than ’50s influence. A few singles on United Artists, recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Wales with Dave Edmunds producing, followed in the early ’70s. In ’76 they signed to Sire Records, who released three true gems of power pop: Shake Some Action, Flamin’ Groovies Now and Jumpin’ In The Night.
Another lineup change ensued in the next decade with Wilson moving to England and joining the Barracudas. The Groovies continued on thru the ’80s and into the early ’90s touring Australia and Europe, putting out a fine but overlooked album called Rock Juice and then finally calling it quits. Jordan formed a new band called Magic Christian while Wilson released solo albums in Europe.
Now in 2013, Jordan, Wilson and original founding member and bass player George Alexander, have reunited for the first time since 1981. They’re joined by drummer Victor Penalosa, a fine musician in his own right who faithfully recreates the style heard on the classic recordings while at the same time adding his own flavor. The foursome has gone back into the studio to finish up long lost recordings as well as cutting brand new material. They recently toured Japan and Australia, returning home to San Francisco to do a show that sold out in less than 24 hours. Fans have been delighted with what is being called “a dream set list”, including original songs the band has never performed before onstage. Newcomers are asking, “Why haven’t I ever heard of this group?” It’s hard to say just why the group hasn’t gotten the attention they deserve (at least in the USA) but they’re back to give everyone another chance at hearing and seeing just why those in the know consider them one of the greatest rock n’ roll bands ever.