Sunday, 20 November 2016

"Flamingo/Teenage Head" by FLAMIN' GROOVIES (2009 and 2015 Rev-Ola CD Reissue - 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD Plus Two Bonus Tracks) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Gonna Rock Tonite..."

The New York Dolls, MC5 and especially The Stooges are constantly name-checked as keeping the wild snotty pure spirit of Rock 'n' Roll alive in the early Seventies - a time when Hard Rock and Prog monsters dominated the chart landscape and bedsits of the world threatening to swamp all three-minutes blasts of proto-punk with hairy chests, tales of wizards and semi classical pomp. But spare a dime brother for San Francisco's all partying, all rocking, all greasy FLAMIN GROOVIES.

This fabulous Rev-Ola CD concentrates on their third and fourth albums on Kama Sutra Records from 1970 ("Flamenco") and 1971 ("Teenage Head") and even throws in a bonus track at the end of each album. Here are the Power Pop details...

UK released January 2009 (reissued October 2015) - "Flamingo/Teenage Head" by FLAMIN GROOVIES on Rev-Ola CR REV 273 (Barcode 5013929457324) offers 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD with Two Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (76:52 minutes):

1. Comin' After Me
2. Headin' For The Texas Border
3. Sweet Roll Me On Down
4. Keep A Knockin'
5. Second Cousin'
6. Childhood's End [Side 2]
7. Jailbait
8. Gonna Rock Tonite
9. She's Falling Apart
10. Road House
Tracks 1 to 10 are their third studio album "Flamingo" - released June 1970 in the USA on Kama Sutra Records KSBS 2021 (no UK release).

11. Rumble (Studio Outtake first issued in 1976 - a Link Wray cover)

12. High Flyin' Baby
13. City Lights
14. Have You Seen My Baby?
15. Yesterday's Numbers
16. Teenage Head
17. 32-20
18. Evil Hearted Ada
19. Doctor Boogie
20. Whiskey Woman
Tracks 12 to 20 are their fourth studio album "Teenage Head" - released April 1971 in the USA on Kama Sutra Records KSBS 2031 (no UK release).

21. Shakin' All Over (Studio Outtake - a cover of the hit most associated with Johnny Kidd & The Pirates)

KRIS NEEDS provides the superb liner notes that explain how the band’s "Sneakers" debut LP in 1968 and its big-label follow up "Supersnazz" in 1969 on Epic Records had received plaudits but precious little chart action. The 12-page booklet has colour and black and white photos of the band (lead guitarist and vocalist Cyril Jordan in his trademark dark glasses and Link Wray look) as well as the usual reissue credits. JOE FOSTER and ANDY MORTEN produced the project for CD whilst NORMAN BLAKE did the Remaster and Sound recreation at Studio 3 in Glasgow. This CD sounds amazing – huge presence and all the muscle you would want without being over done. A fine job the music...

"...Ten head hunters...with a buzz saw...and they was comin' after me..." - the boys tell us in the raw and raunchy guitar-pop of "Comin' After Me" - ten state troopers chasin' close behind with meat hooks. But the Proto-Punk edginess really starts to come screaming in on "Headin' For The Texas Border" where the band is headed to New Orleans to get their mojo back. I love the rapid guitars and the transfer gives it serious wallop. It's 1970 for gawd sake but it could be 1976 - so damn sharp. They then cleverly switch to Acoustic Rock 'n' Roll with "Sweet Roll Me On Down" as they Buddy Holly 'ah-ha' through the chorus. I'm reminded of the British band Fumble who also did Little Richard's brilliant "Keep A Knockin'" in the same all out rocking way - letting the inner joy of this Fifties anthem rip. Roy Loney stumps up another rocker in the excellent "Second Cousin" - the lyrics straying dangerously into Jerry Lee Lewis lawsuit territory.

Things finally settle into a Hank Williams saunter with "Childhood's End" - a very witty childhood song from Ron Loney where he sounds amazingly like Mick Jagger circa "Exile On Main St." doing his best Hillbilly impression. "Jailbait" is a cool and snarly blues chugger where he pleads 'baby what you tryin to do!' to a mean guitar barrage. The fantastic "Gonna Rock Tonight" is the kind of out-and-out Rock 'n' Roll homage that Dave Edmunds would have loved when his regal Zonophone 'Rockpile' album was in play over in Blighty - ooh-wee baby indeed (and dig that huge grungy Bass solo too). The weird but utterly wonderful "She's falling Apart" follows - a song that feels wildly out of synch with the rest of the album but actually a song I return to most. It then blasts into a frantic Punk-rocking finish with the trashy "Road House" - rapid guitars a go-go. You’re then clobbered with a fantastic loose cover of Link Wray’s guitar magnum opus – the album outtake of "Rumble". Jordan and the boys are clearly having riffage fun with the famous menace the song exudes – a very cool bonus indeed that even includes giggles at the end from a band that would have worshipped at Wray’s feet in the blink of an eye.

For album number two we go Dr. Feelgood with the fabulous slide guitar intro to "High Flyin' Baby" – a superb little Ron Loney and Cyril Jordan rocker. We then return to "Exile On Main St." with the boozy swagger of the acoustic barroom "City Lights" and it’s hard to understand why this wickedly cool Acoustic Blues was slagged off at the time (still sounds so damn good to me). The hard-rocking and deliberately grungy "Have You Seen My Baby?" was probably too much Rock 'n' Roll for delicate minds back in the day - but I love it and "Yesterday's Numbers" that follows it which could have been Brinsley Schwarz or Help Yourself or even Free - stunning acoustic Rock that stays with you. And on it goes to a fabulous echoed-vocal six-minute outtake of Johnny Kidd's rip-roaring "Shakin' All Over" - hissy - but so full of balls and life - a fitting end to the CD.

The Flamin Groovies grow in stature as the years pass and people go back. And who have thought that the most bubblegum of labels - Kama Sutra - would have produced such enduring Rock 'n' Roll and Proto Punk. Besides anyone who writes songs with titles like "Evil Hearted Ada", "Doctor Boogie" and "Whiskey Woman" gets my vote...

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