Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Flamin' Groovies - Supersnazz

Supersnazz (1969) ***

1) The songwriting's thin - out of the 10 originals and 3 covers, not a single knockout.  Nearly all of them score respectable base runs, but none hit'em out of the park or score home runs.

2) The major-label production sands the edges too soft - not a lot of grit in this boogie, which matters when you're rollickin' bar band.

3) The band has an overboard of influences and the eclecticism seems to overwhelm the band:  as an Encyclopedia of Roots Rock, the variety keeps the album from ever sticking in a dulls-rut, but where do the Groovies seem to want to take those influences?  The resultant sprawl can either be taken as assured exploration of American roots'n'roll or confusion as to what sort of band the band intends to be.  Lessee -

'50s rock'n'roll (lots of that - mostly that, as you might expect)
Folk balladry
Hippie pop
Country & Western (more Western than Country - the Groovies did hail from Frisco)
Showtime vaudeville
Repetitive hippie pop chant ("Around the Corner," which works as a goodbye kiss and little else)

....anything I forgot?  Probably, but track-by-track reviews are kind of a chore.  This pleasant and enjoyable album doesn't live up to the promise of the cartoon cover - it's less a barrel of firecrackers than a head-noddin' toe-tapper.  And while as I noted, none of the individual songs will bowl you over, the album works a good time magic definitely greater than the sum of its parts.  The Groovies' debut aims for little more or less than a boogie hoedown, and sustains that lighthearted groove throughout without any real bummers disrupting the consistent flow.  Its failure to attract much notice at the time (the Groovies were dropped by Epic after this epic fail) is due not only to no true knockout singles material ("Laurie Did It," comes closest), but the nature of the scene and its time.  Only mild traces of Haight-Ashbury psychedelia rubbed their patchouli over the Groovies' grooves, aside from the groovy hipster name.  The Groovies come across as more mellow and laid-back (man) than they would shortly become in their classic incarnation, which does fit in snugly with the hippie zeitgeist:  it amounts essentially to late '60s roots-rock revivalism, with updated post-Hendrix guitar tones and slightly updated spaced-age sensibilities.  The band would groove much groovier (groan), but this ain't a half-bad start.

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