1965 – 1992 (27 years)
San Francisco, California, United States
The Flamin' Groovies were an American rock and roll band of the 60s and 70s, known for their influential melodic garage rock music. They began in San Francisco, California in 1965, founded by Cyril Jordan and Roy Loney. The band's early recordings reveal a debt to the Lovin' Spoonful and other soulful rock groups. Their first album, 1969's 'Supersnazz', stylistically was rather a mixed bag, featuring both re-creations of 50s rock n roll and more melodic, somewhat rueful songs that anticipated the power pop movement of the 70s– a genre to which the Flamin' Groovies would eventually contribute significant work.
Critically acclaimed though perceived as commercially disappointing, their debut contained tracks such as a spirited version of the Bobby Troup chestnut "The Girl Can't Help It", and it brought them a cult following. Their second album, 1970's 'Flamingo', revealed a musical approach that continued to draw upon 50s rock and roll as well as upon the more tuneful work of The Beatles and the The Rolling Stones. 'Flamingo' is also notable as well as the only album by the group to feature an apostrophe after "Flamin" (all the others are credited to "The Flamin Groovies"). It also was the first of their two albums for the label Kama Sutra.
Their next album, and last with musician Roy Loney, was the 1971 classic 'Teenage Head'. Continuing their streak of critical praise, this album appears in the famous book '1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die'. Mick Jagger praised the work as an excellent album with parallels to the Stones' work at the time which, like 'Teenage Head', revisited both 50s music and roots rock. 'Teenage Head' is also considered to be a classic in the proto-punk music canon.
Still, Roy Loney left the Flamin' Groovies, and he was replaced by singer-songwriter and guitarist Chris Wilson, who, along with Jordan, began to move the group in a more overtly power pop direction. Between 1971 and 1976, very little was heard of the band except their 1972 anti-drug song "Slow Death". In 1976, they teamed up with British producer and famous retro rock artist Dave Edmunds, and recorded an album entitled 'Shake Some Action'.
With Cyril Jordan and George Alexander the lone holdouts in the band after their line-up changes, their sound found them fully embracing melodic 60s British invasion music and putting on a suit and tie public image reminiscent of those groups. The album even breaking into the Billboard 200 chart, reaching the #142 slot, it picked-up massive critical acclaim. Title track "Shake Some Action" became somewhat of a 'signature song' for the group, and the album has been viewed as a landmark release of the Anglo-American power pop movement.
The following effort, 1978's 'Now', continued to be a good example of their self-conscious attempt to revive the sound of classic 60s rock. As Cyril Jordan told an interviewer, "The time that we were personifying had died in America years before. We were trying to put it into a capsule." The Groovies continued in the same style until somewhere early in the 80s, almost folding entirely and shifting into a sporadic, on-again/off-again existence as the American music scene changed into a more new wave and alternative rock based direction.
In retrospect, the band has been praised by critics as being "one of America's greatest, most influential, and legendary cult bands", in the words of Allmusic. Their siren song of a last album, 1993's 'Rock Juice', has also attracted attention as a great underground release. As time goes by, many punk and powerpop leaning bands have took inspiration from the Groovies.
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