NME, 15 February 1975
Some of you may remember The Flamin' Groovies.
Having estranged their US record company by entitling their third album Teenage Head – and finding no other indigenous company willing to bite – in 1972 they came to Merrie Olde and United Artists. In the nine months they were here they released two singles, both of which hit the Top ten in Switzerland, France, and perhaps a couple of less civilized enclaves of society. In gay Paree the boys were mobbed and even the ensuing twenty month silence hasn't diminished their fame.
Now, Skydog Records has obtained some tapes from Cyril Jordan, Groovies guitarist, composer and leader, and issued these two records as the company's debut releases.
Both are A-OK.
Both are A-OK.
Grease is supposedly recorded "live at Mangels". Don't you believe it; in time honoured tradition the four songs were recorded as demos on a cassette in the living room. The quality isn't exactly pristine, but the energy and raw vitality is amazing.
'Let Me Rock' is a typical Groovies buzz saw attack, with echoes of 'Street Fighting Man', especially the bass, while 'Sweet Little Rock 'n Roller' was never a Groovies highlight, though Cyril's guitar is its usual razor self. 'Slow Death' is A Great Rock Song Of Our Time. It's also a great drug song, right up there with 'Acapulco Gold', and the solo is a classic, developing from a manic riff into other realms entirely.
Alive Forever has a really neat sleeve, the cover being a pencil rendering of the band a la With The Beatles, only three of the pix look like the same guy. The back features a terrific photo.
The material doesn't have quite the frenetic intensity of Grease, but it sure has power. The Groovies have always been more interested in sound and total wall of power rather than any virtuoso niceties and the solos of both 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' and 'Blues from Phyllis' wander into some pretty awesome moments, with fuzz laden notes ricocheting everywhere. The latter song is a new, more than worthy addition to their repertoire.
The quality is pretty much the same as Grease, with the quaint addition of the sound level changing about five times in the first thirty seconds of 'Jumpin' Jack Flash'.
Since it's live, there's a lot of feminine screaming tacked on each end (I'd swear they're yelling for The Beatles), or perhaps this was all captured on a portable cassette recorder at the Olympia on a night the Groovies were really wowing les jeune filles.
© Jonh Ingham, 1975