Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Flamin' Groovies - Shake Some Action

Shake Some Action (1976) ****

Just in time for punk, the Groovies minus Roy Loney had successfully retooled their sound and image as British Invasion revivalists, as one can tell from the sharp Mod suits on the cover.  Dirty hippie long-hair begone, it's bowl-cuts from now on.  The first installment of their late '70s Power-Pop Trilogy is easily the best; this and the two follow-ups are practically the same three albums in terms of style and approach.  The only substantial differences are the strength of the original material and how heavily the band relies on covers.  While the next two albums went overboard with reliance on oldies, only 5 of these 14 songs are covers.  Chuck Berry, the Beatles, Lovin' Spoonful, W.C. Handy - they're slight but fun, the definition of harmless filler.  Which is a pity since nearly every single original present in the Bicentennial Groovies' lineup either rocks, rules, or tears out your heartstrings, sometimes all three.  I went on about the title track and "You Tore Me Down," in my review of the previous Groovies' release, so no more here when I could be discussing "Yes It's True," a note-perfect recreation of a lost Help! era album track.  Or "I'll Cry Alone," which does the same for depressively moody Gene Clark era Byrds - perfect for moping around the dark streets alone, yet it's a driving "Paint It Black," style surger.  "I Saw Her," throws in some incense & peppermints psychedelia, while "Teenage Confidential," essays early '60s teen breakup balladry.   "Please Please Girl," and "I Can't Hide," come from the same place musically, both hyperkinetic jangle-pop that jumps out of its skinny jeans.  And have I mentioned that Cyril Jordan, now defacto leader of the Groovies, has polished to a T the perfect guitar tone for this sort of music?  It's light, not in the least bit heavy or distorted - clean and crisp, jingle-jangling like a harder rocking Byrds.  Not since Big Star have guitars sounded so shimmery, shiny, and colorful, with not a hint of stereotypical muscle-car '70s blooze macho, but still rockin'.  If not for the covers, I'd be tempted to rate this higher, slavish revivalism and all - these aren't just pale copycats of British Invasion classics, they stand up to the best of the Dave Clark Five and Hollies in their own right.

Oh, and have I mentioned the title track?  BLOODY FREAKIN' GENIUS.



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