Categories
Pop Sunday

All Of Thus

All Of Thus

All Of Thus (Gear Fab)

https://guerssenrecords.bandcamp.com/album/all-of-thus

If you have never heard of All Of Thus before, you are not alone. Based in Victor, New York, the band cut just one album during their stint, which did not receive a speck of commercial promotion or attention. Simply dubbed “All Of Thus,” the album was released in 1968 on the Century label. Only 265 copies of the album were pressed, and ultimately gained the status of a serious collector’s item. Now revived onto compact disc, the rare pearl further offers the history of All Of Thus, authored by Mike Stax of Ugly Things magazine. 

Although the jacket sleeve of “All Of Thus” apes “Meet The Beatles” in a roundabout way, the band was a far cry from Fab Four imitators. Comprised of lead singer, songwriter and guitarist John Johnston, bassist and vocalist Don Corbit, keyboardist and vocalist Jerry  Huekensfield and drummer Barry Dagleish, All Of Thus exposed a preference for the psychedelic folk rock philosophy of The Byrds and early Love, filtered through a raggedy garage-pop edge. Raw and natural energy, as opposed to style and technique, furnishes “All Of Thus” with an enjoyable charm and innocence. The members of All Of Thus were still in high school when the album was recorded, and their youthful enthusiasm is contagious.

Jingly jangly applications are placed at a premium on the melodic kick of “She Think She Knows,” as well as “Artifical Lies,” which is executed at a bit of a slower meter and adds washes of whirring organ drills and social commentary to the track. Then there’s a cover of Pete Seeger’sBells Of Rhymney,” featuring a different arrangement than the initial version, not to mention a new set of lyrics. In the end, however, the giddy rendition mirrors the noted take by The Byrds, with its escalating and hypnotic harmonies that carry a hymn-like timbre.  

Routed by a rebellious sneer, hippy dippy prose and rolling and tumbling piano excursions, the gripping “Rely” is pricked with a stinging acid-tinted guitar solo, and “Bye Bye Baby” is a dance floor friendly nugget, marked by shaking grooves, shouting vocals and herky jerky riffs. A punchy garage rock vibe fuels the weirdly hooky “Last Night,” and the moody atmospherics of “Kind Of A Dream” produces a strong Zombies influence. Speaking of The Zombies, “All Of Thus” contains a brash and wild remake of the British band’s “It’s All Right With Me,” that includes some real cool surf rock drumming in the mix. A haunting interpretation of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’sWalk On By” strolls in as another inspired interpretation tucked on the album. 

Catchy singing, projecting a sense of power and confidence, chaperoned by unusual tempos and  instrumentation, reward  “All Of Thus” with an organic uniqueness to be appreciated and celebrated. 

Jeremy / Brighter Day

Jeremy

Brighter Day (Jam)

https://www.jamrecordings.com/catalog.php?inventory_id=3118

Not only is it a given for Jeremy Morris to release a new album every few months, but the peerless quality of his work is to be further counted on. Therefore, it truly goes without saying, the Portage, Michigan-based singer, songwriter and multi-diversified instrumentalist’s current concoction, “Brighter Day” contains such perennial prizes. 

A number of Jeremy’s friends were brought on board to participate in the project. Among these notable compadres are Tim Boykin of the Lolas, Herb Eimerman (solo artist, the Britannicas, the Nerk Twins, Hot Mama Silver) and Randy Massey (solo artist, Hot Mama Silver), while drummer Dave Dietrich – who has played with Jeremy since the late eighties – also appears on the disc.

Piled high with electrifying guitars, attended by Jeremy’s trademark Beatles meets Byrds vocals, ringing chords and a snappy and sturdy arrangement, the title track of the album pitches earnest optimism in both sound and verse. The lion’s share of the set is steeped in a similar sonic mold, so be prepared to be  swept away by a tidal wave of rocking power pop thrills.

A sinister tone, pin-sharp hooks and penetrating riffs illustrate the fiercely catchy “Devil In Disguise,” which profiles the actions and intentions of a seriously wicked fellow. Segments of hard and heavy guitar flourishes, bordering on metallic, link arms with piping hot pop melodies on cuts like “Bury The Hatchet,” “Love You Anyway” and “Hand Biter,” where “Meant To Be” dips a dash of space-age psychedelic seasonings into the stew.

The dual spirit of Bo Diddley and Buddy Holly surfaces on the thumping shuffle of “New Happy Helmet,” and “Now You See Me” and “Drink It Up” twinkle and chime with tuneful energy. A sassy and swaggering groove, tempered by softer and sparkly textures, characterizes “You Must Believe,” and the inisisent stride and jingling crunch of “Waiting For My Ship” proposes a surefire radio-instructed vibe. 

Other pick hits presented on “Brighter Day” are the brash garage rock grit of “Out Of My Cave” and a pair of precious piano-directed ballads – “Can’t Make You Stay” and “Love That Lasts Forever” – which really push the point home when it comes to expressing emotional attachments. The album additionally features a quartet of cool cover versions, including 20/20’s classic “Yellow Pills,” Cheap Trick’s bold and punchy “Take Me Back,” the harmoniously syncopated rhythms of the Move/Electric Light Orchestra’s “Do Ya” and Rick Nelson’s “Thank You Lord,” an invigorating country flavored gospel hymn. 

As previously mentioned, you can always rely on Jeremy to deliver the goods, and this fantastic record confirms his mettle. Bottled tight with inspired singing, exciting instrumentation and an authentic attitude, “Brighter Day” pops and rocks in all the right places at all the right moments. 

Anton Barbeau / Power Pop!!!

Anton Barbeau

Power Pop!!! (Big Stir)

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/power-pop

According to the definition printed on the back sleeve of Anton Barbeau’s latest album, power pop is “a guitar-based form of self-limiting pop music created primarily by/for unrequited men who wish The Beatles had never invited Dylan up to their hotel room.” And while Anton has certainly fathered a fair share of tunes grounded in the genre, he has always avoided restricting himself to a solitary style. So, therefore, calling the album “Power Pop!!!” Is merely a stroke of the singer, songwriter and multi-faceted instrumentalist’s sardonic wit. 

After thirty-plus years of making music and recording an equal amount of discs to match, Anton – who originally comes from Sacramento, California but currently lives in Berlin, Germany – still has plenty of petrol to spare. In fact, “Power Pop!!!” is possibly the musical mad scientist’s best album to date, as the collection seamlessly reinforces his remarkable shapeshifting techniques for composing and playing strangely addictive songs.

The first cut on the album, “Entrez-Vous Dans Les Maisons” punches in at just a little over a minute in length and is a piano instrumental featuring an ominous church type timbre. Then there’s “The Sound” that namechecks The Byrds, The Beatles and XTC, and climaxes to a squall of fizzy psychedelic loopings. Fired by a super speedy clip, “Hillbilly Village” blows in as a demented country-salted ditty, and “Free” is a tight and bright trance-inducing hip hop/electro-pop number. 

On the vigorous title track of the album, Anton proclaims, “Put down your guns, you culture cops, there ain’t no crime like power pop” and “the kids get high on power pop,” where “Running On The Edge Of The Knife” is an action-packed rocker, smirking with mischief and menace. A tribute to one of Anton’s main inspirations, “Julian Cope” dials in as wiggy pop piece, and the swift and bubbly jitters of “Never Crying Wolf Boy” five-fingers a couple of kicks and tricks from The Cars.

The ghost of Buddy Holly and a lady who doesn’t realize she is a cartoon character are referenced on “The Drugs,” which offers some sweet and gentle piano work and baroque pop orchestration before turning a corner, and letting loose a barking rap admirably emulative of Bob Dylan. On a far more traditional plane, “Whisper In The Wind” and “Rain, Rain” are lovely synth pop sentiments, glowing with hypnotic hooks, feathery harmonies and catchy and insistent rhythms. 

Anton’s British-inflected vocals and phrasing – reflecting a melding of John Lennon, David Bowie and of course Julian Cope – are perfectly tailored for the peculiar poetry and inventive sonic operations he so enthusiastically binges on. Cloaked in novel arrangements, off-center melodies and wonky ruffles, “Power Pop!!!” presents a wealth of interesting and exhilarating moves celebrating various art rock fashions, rather than the tongue-in-cheek moniker of the album. Good for Anton, forever following his muse and unraveling riches in the process. 

THE EVERLASTING FIRST: The Turtles

Continuing a look back at my first exposure to a number of rock ‘n’ roll acts and superheroes (or other denizens of print or periodical publication), some of which were passing fancies, and some of which I went on to kinda like. They say you never forget your first time; that may be true, but it’s the subsequent visits–the second time, the fourth time, the twentieth time, the hundredth time–that define our relationships with the things we cherish. Ultimately, the first meeting is less important than what comes after that. But every story still needs to begin with that first kiss.

Some of the best stories start with a bunch of 45s. Even if the story itself never goes anywhere, you’ve still got a bunch of 45s. That’s a great start for anything. 

The story of my discovering the music of the Turtles doesn’t exactly start with a bunch of 45s, but a small collection of 7″ singles served as an integral early part of that story. The setting was Jean Price’s front porch in Syracuse’s Northern suburbs, 1967. Jean wasn’t there at the time; she was older, and she certainly wouldn’t have been hanging out with a bunch of seven- and eight-year-old children. In truth, I don’t even remember Jean herself, and I have no recollection of why I was hanging out on her porch with a small group of the other neighborhood kids.

But if I don’t remember the why, I remember the what. We were looking through a box of 45s, presumably Jean Price’s 45s. Memory won’t surrender the identities of most of those singles, though I think the stash included either “Liar, Liar” by the Castaways or “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris, or maybe both of those. But I clearly, clearly remember seeing the White Whale Records logo, as I stared at the Turtles’ “Happy Together” single.

I knew the song from the radio. I had no other specific tether to it in the moment. But in that moment, for whatever mystic forces manipulated (but fail to explain) the situation, “Happy Together” by the Turtles became immediately important to me.

My Mom thought it was even more important to me than it was. I must have mentioned the song a time or two, prompting a reasonable presumption that the Turtles were my favorite group, and  “Happy Together” my # 1 favorite record in the world. I don’t think that was ever the case, but I sure did like it. A lot.

Still, over time the Turtles faded into a secondary realm of awareness, no longer a current hit, no longer a part of everyday life. If I heard any more of their music on the radio in the ’60s–and I must have–none of it registered with me as THE TURTLES!, at least not at the time.

That changed for me in the ’70s. As a teenager, I developed a consuming interest in the rockin’ pop of the ’60s, both the stuff I remembered from childhood and stuff that was essentially new to my post-adolescent ears. Oldies radio hooked me on the Turtles’ pop classics “She’d Rather Be With Me” and “Elenore.” “She’d Rather Be With Me” became the first Turtles track I ever owned, courtesy of a various-artists set called 20 Heavy Hits, scarfed up at the flea market. “Happy Together” followed, with a purchase of a (very) used copy of the cheap-o early ’70s Do It Now compilation in the spring of 1977, my senior year in high school. 

One evening in that same spring ’77 time frame placed me in the audience for Rock Of The ’60s, a presentation of rock ‘n’ roll TV clips screened at Syracuse UniversityRock Of The ’60s gave me a glimpse of the Turtles on (I think) The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, alongside clips of other ’60s luminaries like Buffalo Springfieldthe Kinksthe Whothe Byrdsthe Holliesthe Yardbirdsthe Lovin’ Spoonfulthe Rolling Stones, and the Beatles. By then, I’d learned that the Turtles’ Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman had a post-terrapins pop life as Flo and Eddie; I’d seen them on The Midnight Special and read their Blind Date column in Phonograph Record Magazine

My first Turtles album was the 2-LP anthology Happy Together Again, a dusty and well-worn used copy rescued from the basement of Record Revolution in Cleveland Heights in the summer of ’77, right before the start of my freshman year in college. This was my real indoctrination into all things Turtley, introducing me to wonderful Turtles tracks like “Outside Chance,” “Grim Reaper Of Love,” “Love In The City,” and more.

Happy Together Again accompanied me to college in Brockport. I met a pretty Long Island girl named Eleanor (never mind the spelling), who of course loved the Turtles’ “Elenore” but would have greatly preferred me refraining from singing it to her. Back home in the summer of ’78, I played the album for my doomed friend Tom, who liked the Turtles but hated one line in “Let Me Be:” I am what I am and that’s all I ever can be. That apparent expression of limitation bugged Tom; looking back decades later, I can’t wrap my mind around how to reconcile that sentiment with the fact of Tom’s suicide in 1979.

It’s weird the things we wind up remembering. A friend objecting to an innocuous lyric he heard a year before he killed himself. A box of 45s on a neighbor girl’s porch. I became a big fan of the Turtles, and I own each of their original albums via CD reissues on the Sundazed label. I missed a chance to the Turtles/Flo and Eddie at a club show in Buffalo in the mid ’80s, but saw them in Syracuse a decade later. I play the music of the Turtles at home, in my car, and on the radio. The story didn’t really start with a box of 45s. But by God, it should have. Happy together? Imagine me and you. I do. Brothers and sisters, friends and lovers and random passers-by. Together. We’ll do the best we can in that regard.

TIP THE BLOGGER: CC’s Tip Jar!You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

The many fine This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin’ pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
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The Grip Weeds / DiG

The Grip Weeds

DiG (JEM Records)

https://www.gripweeds.com/

If there is one band that has appropriated the sounds of the sixties and managed to translate such aspirations into their own prize-winning formula, it is The Grip Weeds. Coming together in 1988, the Highland Park, New Jersey group is globally known for their superb recordings that are just as relevant, as those produced by the artists they are enamored with.

 Something of a family affair, the band includes founding members and siblings Kurt (vocals, multi-instrumentalist ) and Rick Reil (vocals, multi-instrumentalist), along with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist  Kristin Pinell (who is Kurt’s wife) and bassist Dave DeSantis.

Rather than sit idle and go into panic mode during the worldwide lockdown of 2020, The Grip Weeds made a beeline for the studio and crafted a new album of vintage songs. A two disc set, DiG, contains versions of both noted and obscure tunes from the sixties, which needless to say, is a tribute to the band’s influences. 

An ample amount of psychedelic classics are spread across the collection, specifically; Shape Of Things To Come (Max Frost and The Troopers), Journey To The Center Of The Mind (The Amboy Dukes), Something In The Air (Thunderclap Newman), Porpoise Song (The Monkees), I Feel Free (Cream) and I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) (The Electric Prunes). The Grip Weeds approach these trippy treasures in their signature standard of excellence, grounded in harmony-rich singing, tight and exciting musicianship and spirited empathy. These renditions are so great that you will think you are hearing them for the first time.

Paul Revere and the Raiders are honored on the gutsy acid-dappled garage rock of Louie Go Home, while Frosty’s funky Organ Grinder’s Monkey further stages an appearance. The Zombies are cited on a ravishing acoustic-based take of I Love You, and the slightly jazzy polish of Lady Friend is sure to score points with Byrds‘ fans.

An homage to The Squires surfaces on the cosmic folk rock chime of Going All The Way, and then there’s The Creation’s throbbing Making Time and the chilly atmospheric Twilight Time, which was initially cut by The Moody Blues.

Mouse and the Traps receive a walloping reprise on the hard-driving Lie Beg Borrow And Steal, whereas The Beatles are celebrated on the achingly sweet It’s Only Love. The Rolling Stones are also given a nod, on the brain-bending drone of Child Of The Moon. The Marmalade’s shimmery flower pop I See The Rain and DiG Theme, a searing and powerful Yardbirds-meets-Who flavored instrumental composed by The Grip Weeds, cycle in as other groovacious goodies gracing the package.

In terms of cover albums, DiG is a real stunner. The Grip Weeds clearly had a ton of fun waxing these tracks, which will feed the need of the band’s dedicated legion of followers until their next album of orginal material is released. 

Categories
Pop Sunday

Jeremy / My Shining Star

Jeremy

My Shining Star (Jam)

http://www.jamrecordings.com

Since the turn of the century, Jeremy Morris has been on a serious creative roll, releasing an album every couple of months. Aside from solo projects, the Portage, Michigan based singer, tunesmith and master of multitudes of instruments, claims membership in The Lemon Clocks and The Jeremy Band. He also runs JAM Records, which not only distributes his own music, but efforts by other artists. 

Jeremy’s latest album, My Shining Star, is filled to the finish line with all the aesthetic applications he is championed for. An adventurous spirit – mirrored by songs about the Holy Spirit – bestow the thirteen track collection with a positive presence that energizes the soul.

Bright and sunny vocals of The Beatles and Byrds variety duly magnify the inspiring dialogue on New Perspective, You’re Amazing and the title cut of the album. Streaked with glittering guitars, vigorous tempos and colossal melodies of diverse contours, these irresistible entries serve as certified power pop nuggets. 

Pitching a darker and heavier tone, Love Your Enemy sounds a bit like Led Zeppelin at times. Piercing licks abound, while the dramatic drone of a Mellotron further heightens the intensity of the production. A sweet and steady jangle directs The Afterlife, which wisely notes, “nobody wants to die, but everybody wants to go to heaven,” where  Saying Goodbye carries a melancholic ring and simple, yet effective hooks. 

Designed of dreamy and ethereal textures, Light Of The World glides seamlessly to a mediative rhythm, glowing with celestial beauty. A cover of Norman Greenbaum’s 1969 hit single, Spirit In The Sky proves to be a fitting end to the album. Jeremy’s revolutionary rendition of the song extends to nearly twenty-five minutes in length and contains some additional lyrics he authored himself. In the beginning, Spirit In The Sky follows the same pattern and arrangement as the original version, with its springy cadence and chugging fuzz guitars, before exploding into a dazzling freakout frenzy of improvisational hard rocking moves and grooves. 

Considering how prolific he is, Jeremy seems to instantly conjure ideas from thin air. And what’s even more remarkable is the quality of his music remains uniformly excellent, with My Shining Star tooling in as another sure-fire keeper from this mighty talented fellow. 

Mike Browning / Class Act

Mike Browning

Class Act

https://mikebrowning.bandcamp.com/album/class-act

At an age when most people are preparing to retire, Mike Browning launched a new career – as a recording star! The North Carolina based singer, songwriter and multi-varied instrumentalist’s debut effort – a six track EP aptly called Never Too Late –  was released in 2020, ensued  by a single, Another Bite At The Apple. Both of these endeavors received rave receptions, which duly celebrated Mike’s indelible talent for composing, arranging and playing hook happy pop rock to the hilt. 

However, Mike’s current collection – Class Act – was not intended to be an album. The project was initially conceived back in 2018, when Mike was enrolled in a recording and production program taught by Jamie Hoover of the famed Spongetones. Students were assigned to pick tunes of their choice to record, and the numbers on Class Act are those Mike selected. 

Exclusively covers, the material basically sticks to the same structure and tempo of the original recordings. But Mike’s bubbly harmony-laden vocals, attended by his earnest passion for the music, stamps a fresh feel onto the songs. 

Considering The Beach Boys are one of Mike’s key inspirations, it is only appropriate that Class Act opens the session with the sunshine-soaked doo-wop of Do It Again. In fact, the album focuses heavily on the sounds of the sixties. 

The Beatles are saluted on Norwegian Wood, while Picture Book by The Kinks, and the Spencer Davis Group’s keyboard-driven Gimme Some Lovin’ are also revisited in fine form. 

As well, the garage rocking (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone – which was popularized by The Monkees and Paul Revere and the Raiders – and Just Like Romeo And Juliet from The Reflections, appear on the album. 

Then there’s a couple of Bob Dylan essays, which are delivered in the manner mainly recognized by the versions by The Byrds. Among these songs are the countrified You Ain’t Going Nowhere and the ringing folk rock of My Back Pages.  Further folk rock pieces include the quirky nursery rhyme prose of The Little Black Egg (The Nightcrawlers) and the bright and beautiful I’ll Never Find Another You, that The Seekers scored a hit with in  1965. 

XTC fans will rejoice when hearing Mike’s spot on treatment of the paisley-appareled Dear Madame Barnum, along with Tommy Tutone’s 867-5309/Jenny, which bounces to a cool new wave vibe.

It is a good thing Mike decided to make these cuts available. Lively and sparkling with enthusiasm, the album certainly deserves an A-plus. Class Act will tide us over until Mike’s next album of his own great songs rears its head. 

The Palace Guard / All Night Long: An Anthology 1965-1966

The Palace Guard

All Night Long: An Anthology 1965-1966 (Omnivore Recordings)

 These days, The Palace Guard are either a footnote in history or primarily remembered as the band that included Emitt Rhodes on drums (later to be replaced by Terry Rae) who went onto front The Merry Go Round, then launch an influential and critically acclaimed solo career. But the Hawthorne, California based group actually enjoyed a great deal of regional stardom and deserved to be heard on a far wider scale.

The other original members of The Palace Guard were the Beaudoin brothers – John on vocals and keyboards, Don on vocals and rhythm guitar and  David on vocals and tambourine – along Mike Conley on background vocals, lead guitarist Chuck McClung and bassist Rick Moser. A job as house band at the Hullabaloo Club in Hollywood, complemented by appearances on local television programs, granted the group a high profile in and about the area.

During their tenure, The Palace Guard released half a dozen singles that were as solid as anything their chart-topping contemporaries were peddling. Each side of these forty-fives have been compiled onto All Night Long: An Anthology 1965-1966, which offers rare photos and liner notes by Rick Moser

Synchronized harmonies – couched in the  seam of The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Beau Brummels and The Byrds – were  key compotents in the Palace Guard’s repertoire. Not only could these fellows carry a tune, but they proved to be quite a tight team in the instrumental department.

 As well, The Palace Guard had the initiative to pen a few of their own songs instead of relying on cover material, which was pretty much the norm for many bands at the time. Jingly guitars and plucky rhythms, magnified by a cute and chirpy chorus of “coochie coochie coochie coo,” energizes the insanely catchy All Night Long, while rolls of spinning carnival-styled organ chords underline Calliope and the moody Greed is peppered with exotic Middle Eastern psychedelic-scented motifs.

Also a self-composed piece, Oh Blue (The Way I Feel Tonight) possesses a curious appeal, touching on plaintive  teen idol crooning, shifting tempos, ringing folk pop and ending with a snappy Yardbirds– inspired rave up. 

Each song on All Night Long: An Anthology 1965-1966 has merit, but the crown jewel of the set is perhaps Falling Sugar.  Taking in The Palace Guard’s strong and melodious vocal prowess, a spirited arrangement, chiming licks a plenty, spiffy breaks and a dash of wheezy harmonica playing, the infectious cut fuses Mersey-minded pop instincts with West Coast folk rock sensibilities in an immediate and direct manner.

 Don Grady, who held the role of the eldest son on the hit TV show, My Three Sons, joined The Palace Guard on a pair of numbers – the breezy Little People and the Tijuana Brass flavored Summertime Game, where an adaptation of Wilson Pickett’s If You Need Me examines the band laying down a slow burning soulful groove. Authored by future Bread master David Gates, the bouncy Saturday’s Child is no stranger to fans of sixties music, as the version by The Monkees is the one that we’re familiar with.

 In an alternate galaxy, The Palace Guard would have seized the airwaves with their hooky singles. But good songs refuse to die, and All Night Long: An Anthology 1965-1966 contains such evergreen entries. There’s no doubt this fine collection will spark a renewed interest in The Palace Guard. 

The Flamin’ Groovies: The Power Pop Hall of Fame

“1975 will be the year of The Flamin’ Groovies!”–Greg Shaw, Who Put The Bomp magazine
“It wasn’t, but it shoulda been.”–Groovies fans ever since then

It could be argued that no rock ‘n’ roll act was ever so good and simultaneously so ignored as San Francisco’s legendary Flamin’ Groovies. Throughout their long history and many personnel changes, the group was consistently out of step with the times. While contemporaries were properly freaking out and endlessly jamming in a tedious soundtrack to an emerging counterculture, the Groovies drew on unfashionable rock ‘n’ roll roots, alternately purveying good-time jug band music á la The Lovin’ Spoonful and rockin’ the motherlovin’ house down with a ferocity to rival The Rolling Stones and The Stooges. By the time reduced-frills rock started making a comeback in the ’70s, a new incarnation of The Flamin’ Groovies was dressed up in Mod clothing and playing polished power pop as if it were 1965 and the band was some mythic combination of The BeatlesByrdsBeach Boys, and Rolling Stones heading into the studio for a session with Phil Spector. And by the time “jangly pop” became a buzz phrase, The Flamin’ Groovies were so far underground that no amount of excavating could bring them to the surface, let alone to the pop stardom that should have been their divine right.

As it is, The Flamin’ Groovies produced some unforgettable work, including three oft-covered classics: “Slow Death,” “Teenage Head,” and the incomparable, booming “Shake Some Action,” which sounded like the eleventh-hour announcement of pop-rock Armageddon. Groovies fans are generally divided into two camps: those who favor the manic-rockin’ original Groovies fronted by Roy Loney, and those who prefer the pop perfection of the Sire years (1976-79) with Chris Wilson. In both incarnations, guitarist Cyril Jordan and bassist George Alexander kept the flame burning brightly.

It’s the Sire era that puts The Flamin’ Groovies into The Power Pop Hall Of Fame. That’s not a knock against the earlier stuff, much of which is just fantastic, but an acknowledgement that we wouldn’t be talking about the Groovies as a power pop act if judged solely on the basis of “Teenage Head” and “Second Cousin;” as irresistible as those tracks are, they’re closer to the cantankerous grandeur of, say, The Pretty Things than to anything one would call power pop. The Flamin’ Groovies’ three albums for Sire–Shake Some ActionNow, and Jumpin’ In The Night–radiate a catchy cool, combining the bop and swagger of a solid rock ‘n’ roll foundation with a swoon-worthy dedication to the giddy, visceral thrill of pure pop pursuits. Shake Some Action is one of the defining albums of the genre, loaded with exquisite tracks–“I Can’t Hide,” “You Tore Me Down,” “Yes It’s True,” “I’ll Cry Alone,” and the nonpareil title tune–that shimmer with conviction and glory. Now and Jumpin’ In The Night have been less celebrated by pundits, but nonetheless gave the undeserving world such pop gems as “Good Laugh Mun,” “All I Wanted,” “Yes I Am,” “Tell Me Again,” and the magnificent “First Plane Home.”

A different line-up of the Groovies (still including Jordan and Alexander) emerged in the late ’80s, releasing the Rock Juice album in 1992 before returning to the shadows. Eventually, Cyril Jordan and George Alexander reunited with Roy Loney for live gigs as The Flamin’ Groovies. Chris Wilson even joined in for an encore at one show, an event that had once seemed, y’know, really unlikely. Credit to all parties for transcending the accumulated baggage of the past.

Both Jordan and Wilson remain in the current edition of The Flamin’ Groovies, and they released an album called Fantastic Plastic in 2017, 24 years after Rock Juice, 38 years after Jumpin’ In The Night. George Alexander plays on some of the album, but Chris von Sneidern has occupied the bass spot for recent live shows. Is this finally The Year Of The Flamin’ Groovies? No, it is not. And that’s okay. To fans, every year is another year of the Groovies. Let us bust out at full speed, ’cause love is all we need to make it all right.

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Our new compilation CD This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin’ pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins’ BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here. A digital download version (minus The Smithereens’ track) is also available from Futureman Records.

Richard Turgeon / 10 Covers, Volume 2

Richard Turgeon

10 Covers: Volume 2″ (2021)

https://richardturgeon.bandcamp.com/album/10-covers-volume-ii


Every so often, Richard Turgeon takes a breather from crafting his own superb songs, and picks tunes of his favorite artists to tackle. The material included on the San Francisco Bay Area one-man band’s “10 Covers: Volume 2” slides in as the second installment of his recycling project, and features tracks that were released as digital singles over the past year.

The selections presented on this effort – which span different eras and styles –  generally follow the template of the initial versions. That is definitely not a bad thing, as some of these songs stand as of the most beloved of all time. Turgeon’s taut and durable vocals, paired with his cracking instrumental techniques, simply crystallize the qualities that made the cuts so appealing in the first place. 

Whether he is channeling the alternative rock of Hole’s “Malibu,” the twelve-string jangle of The Byrds’ “I’ll Feel A Whole Better” or the driving beat of Flesh For Lulu’s “Postcards From Paradise,” Turgeon approaches the songs with earnest enthusiasm.

 Other entries heard on “10 Covers: Volume 2” are The Mamas and the Papas’ luscious harmony-laden “California Dreaming,” T,he Cure’s punchy “Just Like Heaven,” and Neil Diamond’s “I’m A Believer” that was of course popularized in frisky fettle by The Monkees. 
Potty Mouth’s jaunty punk flavored “22,” The Bobby Fuller Four’s heartbreaking ballad “A New Shade Of Blue” and Oasis’ sweeping and soaring “Live Forever” also appear on the set.

 And how fitting it is Turgeon pays homage to Tom Petty on “10 Covers: Volume 2,” considering much of his original work invokes comparisions to the late icon. The song Turgeon elected to revisit is “Learning To Fly,” which adds a layer of  muscular guitar mettle to the mix. 

An eclectic choice of offerings, “10 Covers: Volume 2” is a nice thank you note to the musicians who have inspired Turgeon. Excellent indeed!