Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Flamin' Groovies at Under The Bridge London September 21st - Review and Photos by Paul Slattery

The Flamin Groovies and Dave Edmunds at the Robin Hood pub in Monmouth January 1978. Left to right: Chris Wilson, Mike Wilhelm, Cyril Jordan, Dave Edmunds, Dave Wright & George Alexander. Photo by Paul Slattery.
I’ve been listening to The Flamin' Groovies now for 45 years. I first heard "Teenage Head" at a party in Cape Cod went out and bought the album (which I still have) and became a huge Groovies fan. I first met the the band at The Robin Hood pub in Monmouth in January 1978. They’d been recording the "Now" album at Rockfield Studios with the legendary Dave Edmunds and I ended up on the road with them in 1978 when they were promoting the album. The Groovies are Rock and Roll legends now – their jangling guitar based power pop has influenced new generations of rock musicians and they are back again on the road reborn with a new rhythm section and their first new album in 25 years "Fantastic Plastic" which seems to be garnering 5 star reviews everywhere. Original member George Alexander and drummer Victor Penalosa both appear to have parted company with the band despite featuring on the new album. I was sad to hear the news quite frankly as I had got to know them both well over the last few years since the Groovies reformation.

The Flamin' Groovies at Under The Bridge by Paul Slattery
Cyril Jordan of The Flamin' Groovies at Under The Bridge by Paul Slattery
The band's new rhythm section is Chris von Sneidern on bass guitar and Tony Sales on drums. Chris is a well-known San Francisco musician with several acclaimed albums and was the subject of the 2009 documentary "Why Isn’t Chris von Sneidern Famous?" Tony is the son of Tony Sales and nephew of Hunt Sales (who together formed the famous rhythm section in David Bowie’s band, Tin Machine, and recorded and toured with Iggy Pop and Todd Rundgren, among others). Have a listen to Iggy’s "Kill City" album. He’s also the grandson of the actor Tyrone Power. Well you would expect two guys with such great music credentials to do justice to a band like the Flamin' Groovies and that they do in spades. They are superb musicians and both add to the soaring vocal harmonies.

The Flamin' Groovies at Under The Bridge by Paul Slattery
Chris von Sneidern of The Flamin' Groovies at Under The Bridge by Paul Slattery
More than forty years down the road singing with the Groovies Chris Wilson still handles the lead vocals with true emotion in a set list that includes classics like "Tore Me Down", "Teenage Head" and "Shake Some Action". On the excellent Paul Revere and the Raiders cover "Hungry" Chris leaves the guitar on the stand, grabs the mike and gets down the front of the stage to belt out an amazing whiskey-fuelled vocal. The numbers from the new album sound great and get the proper Cyril and Chris jangly guitar duel treatment. "What The Hell’s Going On" is a cracker as is "I Want You Bad", Cyril still favouring his heavy-as-steel Dan Armstrong plexiglass guitar – Cyril loves this guitar – you can see it on the cover of their 1971 album "Teenage Head".

The Flamin' Groovies at Under The Bridge by Paul Slattery
Tony Sales of The Flamin' Groovies at Under The Bridge by Paul Slattery
I’m glad that there is now a fully fledged version of "Let Me Rock" on the new album. The only recording I had before was a version recorded in Cyril's front room as a demo for United Artists records which ended up on the "Grease" EP on Skydog records. "Let Me Rock" is the final song of the evening and it's a really great finale to an excellent performance. For me it’s always a treat to listen to this band and take their photos, they are true legends that just have Rock 'n' Roll oozing out of their pores. (Paul Slattery September 2017).

Present day line-up backstage at Under The Bridge: Chris Wilson, Cyril Jordan, Tony Sales, Chris von Sneidern
Chris Wilson with The Only One’s John Perry
You can get more information on The Flamin' Groovies and details on how to order their new album here. With thanks to Paul Slattery for the feature and excellent photos. Don't forget our special Retrosonic Podcast with Chris Wilson is available to listen/download for free here.

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