Monday, July 27, 2015


The Flamin' Groovies found a raucous sound for their rockabilly revelry in this retro roadhouse rumble.   The anachronistic San Francisco band recorded and self-released their 'Sneakers' EP, which led to a deal with Epic Records for their full length debut 'Supersnazz' in 1969.   The commercial failure of the album got them dropped by the major label.   

Roy Loney looks back:    "We were definitely out of step with what was happening [on the American West Coast], the psychedelic folk-rock blues with people playing thirty-minute songs and stuff like that. We were into playing rock 'n' roll, just simple two minute songs.  My background, my early favorite rock 'n' roll was rockabilly, like Carl Perkins and Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino. That's kind of my roots. I think the first music we did was that. We were just playing what we loved. We tended to sound like an oldies band, before there was such a thing. Sort of like doing old rock 'n' roll and people saying 'What are you doing?' [Laughs] 'This is ancient history!' But that's what we did.   So we were really out of step with what was happening here. We had a core of followers but for the most part, people thought of us as kinda lightweight I think...What was interesting was that when the Groovies started, it was pretty much a bunch of guys who hadn't played music much. Tim and I had the folk background, Cyril was just learning to play and George had never played the bass before in his life. Our original drummer, Ron Greco, was just beginning. We were guys just learning how to do it. There was a primitive quality to what we did. We were just beginning to learn how to play. I listen to our early stuff and I say, 'God, we were such kids – how did we get a record out?' We just developed and that was what was sort of neat about it – you could feel the band developing and just really learn how to play...I think if you listen to the great rock 'n' roll records throughout history, there are mistakes, they're out of tune but they've got this intensity, this fire that just carries it. I think one thing the Groovies always had is a lot of intensity. Whatever we lacked in musicality, we made up in our complete commitment towards what we were doing."

Their second album 'Flamingo' was recorded in March of 1970 at Pacific High Recording Studio in San Francisco for Kama Sutra Records with producer Richard Robinson.   The sessions featured  Roy Loney on vocals and guitar;   Cyril Jordan on guitar and vocals;   Tim Lynch on guitar and vocals;   George Alexander on bass guitar;   Danny Mihm on drums, percussion;   and  Commander Cody on piano.   

Jordan says:    "We really didn't have that much time to work on it and I'll tell you, one thing that's far out about the Groovies is that 'Sneakers'  is on 4-track, OK? And 'Supersnazz' is on 8-track. But 'Flamingo' was on 12-track but that's just one inch (tape), just like 8-track so the tracks were squelched. So, you know, 12-track didn't stick around that long. If there's any vibe on 'we don't like the sound on Flamingo,' it's basically because it was a 12-track tape recorder. You know, our next album 'Teenage (Head)' was 16-track and then when we cut 'Shake Some Action', we went to 24-track. So as we were progressing from album to album, the techology of recording was also progressing along with us."

Loney recalls:    "Flamingo we cut in no time flat. We cut it here in the city, pretty much live. The vocals weren't [live], but mostly we went for a crunchy live sound. We wanted it to be as out of control as possible. We cut "Roadhouse" ten times and it wasn't out of control enough so we pushed it until it was. We did it with a 'Let's go for the throat' feel.  Then I went to New York and mixed it with Richard Robinson. I brought it back and played it for the guys and they said 'It sucks!' They didn't like the mix – they thought it was missing things. I said, 'Well, we cut it live and didn't add a whole lot to it.'   It sounded sparse because it was a sparse record. They thought it should sound bigger, and I thought, 'Maybe they're right – maybe it's too sparse, too raw.' It's one of those albums where I go back and forth with it. Everybody does in the band. Sometimes I'll listen to it and say, 'Hey, this is very cool' and sometimes it's like, ' just doesn't make it.' It's the one album where we all go 'Well...'"

"Sweet Roll Me on Down"

"Road House"

full album:

All songs written by Cyril Jordan and Roy Loney except where noted.

Side 1
"Gonna Rock Tonight" (Loney)
"Comin' After Me"
"Headin' for the Texas Border"
"Sweet Roll Me on Down"
"Keep a Knockin'" (Richard Penniman)

Side 2
"Second Cousin" (Loney)
"Childhood's End" (Loney)
"She's Falling Apart" (Loney)
"Road House"

"My Girl Josephine" (Dave Bartholemew, Fats Domino)
"Around and Around"
"Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu" (Huey "Piano" Smith, John Vincent)
"Somethin' Else" (Eddie Cochran, Sharon Sheeley)
"Going Out Theme"

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