Sound — 10
The debut of the band Flamin' Groovies was released in September 1969 after having been recorded in 1968 after having released their "Super Sneakers" extended play in 1968. This would be the only album they would have released on a major record label which was Epic, having been recorded in CBS studios. The band at this time was in their earlier stage and their lineup throughout most of the band's career consisted of Roy A. Loney (rhythm guitar/lead vocals), Cyril Jordan (vocals/guitar), Tim Lynch (guitar/vocals/harmonica), George Alexander (bass guitar/vocals/harmonica) and Danny Mihm (percussionist). Keyboardist Mike Lang appears on this album but they would use different pianists throughout their discography on different albums. Sundazed has once again re-released a gem that 1969 has to offer and help people hear the amount of talent this group has to offer in classic rock garage rock fashion not in the same blown out psychedelic distorted fuzz as Morgen which was also re-released on Sundazed but somewhat akin, their first EP released ("Sneakers") displays a more proto-metal hard rock psych side to them but offers soft tracks too as most albums of this era do but in excellent format and it offers superb bonus tracks as does their release of Morgen which is really the plus of buying their obscure CD's. This is one of the most brilliant albums and debuts of all time with a few covers performed quite astoundingly. The album is a proto-punk forerunner and has some power pop hints and shows to be one of the key influences and one of the few true vanguards for punk
Lyrics — 9
This album brings a wild ambitious mix of euphoric garage rock, Brit style pop songs, country and rockabilly with tributes to '50s rock 'n' roll classics, written and arranged by singer Roy Loney and guitarist/singer Cyril Jordan being the main composers and Loney doing the lead vocals and rhythm section on guitar in a very grungy and attractive style while really giving and mellifluous all around without a hardcore screaming edge but still displaying a type of rebellious and suave and gives off a more laid back mood with self assurance. They give straightforward rock that is untarnished by artificial period nostalgia music remaining very contemporary while still keeping elements like '50s New Orlean's R&B, country music, and even ragtime with nice splices of clarinet and saxophone throughout that throws in more unpredictable elements that make it a fresh listen for many album plays.
The eighth track "Somethin' Else/Pistol Packin' Mama" has this astounding punk driven pounding sensation to it that makes it not fit into it's time, showing tremendous amount of innovation towards the punk genre that would later be ushered by groups like Flamin' Groovies. The album opens with an energy loaded power-rock piece "Love Have Mercy" (recorded live) that makes this instantly grow on you and attains affection with fast drums and bass, the groovy piano lines and powerful vocals with some heavy banshee guitar to chime in sections with great bluesy woman love affair vocals and band interactions; Loney's voice can really reach a great range and enters the high register in exquisiteness and some sublime guitar lead soloing. The last track is a very favourite of mine again. "(You Can Fly) Around the Corner" is one of those fast, catchy tracks with simple and rather silly lyrics again that I like so much about this album. Some catchy lyrics provided like "you can fly round the corner, you can fly hiiiiiigh... We go by round the corner, let it fly hiiiiigh!" There are nice pieces of classic hard rock solos throughout to enjoy for the garage rock fan with great grooves to match, the silliness of the lyrics just adds more character and makes me adore this album even more.
The brilliant fusion medley of Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else" and "Pistol Packin' Mama" (the last cover material on this record) gives more perspective of older classics in a fresh original tone produced here and tracks like "Bam Balam" is a with fast acoustic-guitar-and-piano resuming the pace of the album. There is an excellent cover of "The Girl Can't Help It," continuing the power, loudness and irresistible groove from the first track. Following up, "Laurie Did It" is a highly favorable track from a personally favorite album and offers a beautiful rock/pop ballad (or at least close to what you could call a ballad), with acoustic guitar play and strong, very emotional vocals. Perhaps the slowest and calmest track on the entire LP is the following one, "A Part From That"; a strange ballad about a "big fat ugly man," with moody harmony vocals and lovely string arrangements, this is really relaxing before the next rock number kicks in.
The cover of "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu" is one of the rather unsurprising tracks on this album, as its rather slow and sluggish (nothing compared to Chris Farlowes version of that song for instance), but still is has some rhythm & boogie; appeal, so it is not bad at all. "Pagan Rachel" is a mostly acoustic number close to country rock, dominated by the great rhythm& blues; piano once more. Definitely a filler track, but it has some quite comical appeal throughout the silly, repetitive "ohh la la la" chorus. The driving beat will catch you at once, if not, the rockin' guitar solos will and the group has more charm with their self-written material although performing extraordinary covers (a very promising band) the following track, "Brushfire" (reminding me of the cover characters; one of them holding a bucket of fire and the other a fuel can), is a slow one with a relaxing but nevertheless catchy rhythm, but lacking the tremendous power expressed by most of the other tracks. A filler, but a nice one indeed. After this, "Bam Balam" is a very fast acoustic-guitar-and-piano number, resuming the awesome pace of the drums and bass again, spiced up with some speedy, cheeky flute play.
Overall Impression — 10
Of course there are a few other albums released within the same time frame of a few years like The Stooges debut (1969) and "White Light/White Heat" (1968) by Velvet Underground, and MC5's "Kick Out the Jams" (1969) and of course The Velvet Underground's debut in 1967; this album is closer in similarity to The Velvet Undergound's eponymous album from the same year but gives off the garage sense of rock covers of original '50s/'60s rock that would become a mainstay for original punk rock in the early '70s and on like Patti Smith's music or Richard Hell's music and as guitarists of the earlier genre like Lenny Kaye doing older rock from the original era in a heavier and emulated the bare musical structures and arrangements of late '60s garage rock like Shadows Of Knight, The Sonics, The Monks and Blue Cheer.
This album finds itself in a bluesier garage rock '50s/'60s style earlier punk in a more formative stage and the problem with them was that they were performing a garage style punk in the late '60s when it was out of favor but continued to make this innovative music. The album does also give more of a hard rock garage styling that would lead to genres like glam rock with bands like T. Rex and Sweet and also helping form the power pop genre along with Badfinger's earlier incarnation as The Iveys ("Maybe Tomorrow") with their debut released the same year. There are many other punk rock influences from garage that I failed to mention like Love, The Kinks, Captain Beefheart and His Magical Band, The Fugs, The Trashmen, The Seeds and countless other bands. Ramones were most likely influenced by the band and probably listened to this album extensively. They portray an interesting vintage Disney character like album art in a devious fashion clearly not a kids cartoon not in an inappropriate or lewd sense but portraying them in a dangerous and mischievous edge which does suit their music. "Supersnazz" is still a fun listen after all these years and well worth a revisit.
The Groovies kick out the jams and absolutely nail Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else" and Little Richard's "The Girl Can't Help It," the album's two cover tracks. And Loney's own "Laurie Did It" is a well done parody of those '50s creepy doom and gloom "died and went to heaven" pop hits in a less poppier fashion, I mean it's there but it's not as prevalent and it offers a range beyond the mere mundane simplicity of pop while drawing upon roots and rockabilly type boogie woogie blues jam, they do have a simple sound and yet sound beyond excellent and provide some great hard rock slide bits and little nuances of pleasant guitar riffs with a lot of prowess in a blues guitar style. After having listened to this and the bonus tracks repetitively I would say for 1969 this whole work remains an uncanny prodigious masterpiece with minor flaws as a beginner group with skill and ambition that surpasses any minor letdowns.