You’re On Ten On Your Guitar. Where Can You Go From There? Where?

I’m still buzzing from the brilliant clips of last weekend’s show by The Everlasting Yeah. There was an agglomeration of anticipation from a lot of people who knew that musicians they had respected for so long won’t , like an old raincoat, ever let you down. Now there is genuine exhilaration that the new tunes absolutely hit the spot, are exactly the racket you require from an imaginative rock & roll band in 2013. So, apologies to friends who have been pointing me towards music which seems a little more delicate because this week I need the drummer to hit things as hard as Ciaran McLoughlin does while some noisy boys take charge of the guitars.

This is Parquet Courts based in Brooklyn, New York City. They have a new EP, “Tally All The Things That You Broke” & are in the UK at the end of this month. They will hit the right radio stations but if they get in the TV then they could become this year’s Strokes. It really is that easy in this country for a young, energetic, cool American band to become the flavour of the month. You have to be careful, there are people who used to think that the Kings Of Leon were half-decent. I’ve wanted this clip on loosehandlebars since this Spring, it is a proper noise & marked them as a band to watch. The boys wear their influences on their sleeves, Pavement, Sonic Youth & (I’m sure) That Petrol Emotion. All new bands do this, the trick is to get enough of yourself into it & I think they’re pulling it off. The track is from 2012’s LP “Light Up Gold”. “Stoned & Starving”…well, we have all been there. Some of us will be there again at the weekend.

The Flamin’ Groovies…hold me back. It’s a Flamin’ frenzy round here at the moment, exactly how I want to a rock & roll band to sound. I know that the band’s reputation hangs around the double whammy of “Teenage Head” (1971) & “Shake Some Action” (1976) but I have a more than sneakin’ suspicion that 1978’s “Flamin’ Groovies Now” is not far behind the 2 classics. It’s a record that I played constantly, a shake me, wake me collection, a Groovie situation is a good place to be.

“Take me Back” is a “Shake” re-write, that same lovely big Byrds guitar build, no heaving rush trying to impress with pace & bluster. The whole LP, produced by Dave Edmunds, is an affirmation that all the band want to do is rock as if the Summer of Love never happened. Their Anglophile leanings are indulged with a bunch of covers (Beatles, Stones, even Cliff Richard) of varying quality but all raucous & energetic. “Don’t Put Me On” is another Jordan/Wilson cracker. “Flamin’ Groovies Now”…recommended.

So last week I was introduced to the debut single by Dublin’s the #1s. The splendidly titled “He’s Too Good For Everyone Else But He’s Not Good Enough For You” may have been the B-side but it’s a pop-punk powerhouse that you think you have heard before because it is straight outta 1977/78. In fact the band’s cover versions are from the top shelf of powerpop, the Rubinoos & then, from the properly respected New Zealand Flying Nun label (Chills, Verlaines) the Clean. This month sees the release of “Sharon Shouldn’t”., another hook-filled, pogo-inducing, shouty singalong with an admirably lo-fi video. It’s a cracker & next week our Irish correspondent is being dispatched to check for the quartet. There are a couple of other young groups pushing the retro rawness rush who were contenders on this post. I prefer the #1s, let’s hope we need to hear more of them.

Apologies then are owed to friends waving shiny new music created from 2 turntables & a microphone in front of me. I’m sure, Danny, that the Outfit have a contribution to make to our culture but I will have to consider it some other time mate. This week if it don’t rock then I ain’t rolling with it. Now I’m sure that the Dictators’ LP is somewhere at the back of the stack Jack.

To Keep Your Raunchy Bag Of Bones Alive

In 1972 the Flamin’ Groovies got their ducks in a row, their egos and chakras balanced and produced their magnum opus. At a time when there were some fine exponents of raw rock and roll (the Stones released “Exile On Main Street” in this year) “Slow Death” stands comparison with anything recorded by the Stooges, MC 5, the Faces and Grand Funk Railroad (OK, skip that last one). We can be grateful that French TV were able to capture this magnificent performance because, at the time, there were not too many people prepared to interrupt the contemplation of their own navel to pay attention.

The Groovies were a San Franciscan band in thrall to the early energy of 50s rock and roll and to the British Invasion of the 60s. The prevailing  inclination on the West Coast was for psychedelic experimentation and the band were never part of that scene. Their first record can be kindly described as “all over the place” as they tried out all the different styles they favoured. Next time around they did get nearer to fusing these influences into their own sound.

“Headin’ For The Texas Border” is a headlong charge at a variation on “I Don’t Need No Doctor”. In 1970 audiences tuned in, turned on and sat cross-legged. They preferred their guitar jams to be stretched over double and triple LPs not to be stinging riffs that grabbed you by the throat. 35 years on Jack White & his band the Raconteurs revived this song and it still sounded wild. Jack did no more than play it straight and fast because there is little missing from the energy and spirit of the original.

The Flamin’ Groovies were led by two singer- guitarists, Cyril Jordan & Ray Loney. After a third unsuccessful album Loney left the band and they re-located to Europe. The wonderful, druggy, sleaze of “Slow Death” was their only recorded work for 5 years. When they returned, in 1976, the pre-hippie rock still rolled but the sound was not as raw. This moody & melodic power pop classic slaps down any criticism of the changes.

“Shake Some Action” is a glorious attempt at a perfect pop single. The Beatles, the Stones and the Byrds in the same song. If it had been recorded in 1966 and not 76 then it would have surely cleaned up. It merely confirmed the cult status of the Groovies but made little impression. The song’s inclusion on compilations of American music that was vaguely “punk” extended it’s reach and er…that’s it. Still, a great record.

The Flamin’ Groovies lost some momentum after this. They continued to record but relied more upon cover versions which added little to the originals. These records are OK but no more. No matter, the band’s commitment to the original spirit of rock and roll and to the energy of  the 60s beat means that this music is timeless. The vitality of their best work still shakes your speakers and stands against any of the “great” bands. I am unable to walk away from this appreciation without including the title track of the 3rd LP “Teenage Head”. Released in the same year as the Stones’ “Sticky Fingers”, Mick Jagger heard this and acknowledged that the Groovies had maybe done it better than even his own fine group.