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Music Reviews

Flamin’ Groovies

Flamin’ Groovies

Fantastic Plastic

Severn Records

Although it’s not the original lineup (co-founder Roy Loney ain’t around), this is still choice as hell, with the combo of founder Cyril Jordan and Chris Wilson recording together for the first time in almost four decades. Wilson joined the band in 1971, ushering in the more “power pop” version of the Groovies, and his return means that one of America’s greatest and most influential bands is back.

Opening with the timely “What the Hell’s Goin’ On”, it’s as if time has stood still in its Cuban heel boots. The Groovies strut and stomp like it was the late ’70s at CBGBs, and the next cut, “End Of The World” has a nifty homage to their big hit from 1976, “Shake Some Action”. Fantastic Plastic has all the hallmarks of their golden age, from the Byrds-like “Don’t Talk To Strangers” to the garage rock frenzy of “Crazy Macy”. Their cover of NRBQ’s “I Want You Bad” slays, as does the strutting rocker “Just Like A Hurricane”.

Now, a new Flamin’ Groovies album ain’t gonna change the world, but the combo of Jordon and Wilson reunited, well…anything can happen. The Groovies are back AF!

www.severnrecords.com

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Music Reviews

Flamin’ Groovies

Flamin’ Groovies

Live 1971 San Francisco

Rockbeat

Everybody has to start somewhere, and for the seminal punk band Flamin’ Groovies it was the folk/country sound in 1971 San Francisco. While these boys went on to be minor punk icons here they rely on American Roots Rock. The set list would work for any high school retro prom, with a very few critical exceptions. “Road House,” “Shaking’ All Over,”” Louie, Louie” and “Waking the Dog” build a solid base, and their original songs “Teenage Head” and “Slow Death” blend in with the rest of the set. This band had a rocky relation with promoter Bill Graham, but he comes out to introduce them.

By the time this show came about, the band had a set of live and studio albums out, their hit “Teenage Head” was taking off, and they were in another one of those pointless rock and roll disputes with their label. The sound quality on this disc is low but the energy is high, you can hear the skill leaking out even with the bad tape quality. This album is fun but it doesn’t show this band at their best; and while punk rockers aren’t known for clean sound, this is sound dirtied by magnetic tape decay and not intentional misuse of musical instruments. Fans should have this, people unfamiliar with the band might do better with a cleaner studio album.

www.rockbeatrecords.com

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Music Reviews

The Scientists

The Scientists

A Place Called Bad

The Numero Group

The Scientists arose from the ashes of other bands in Perth, Australia in 1978, and since then, in fits and starts leader Kim Salmon has kept some variant of the group going, (along with membership in Beasts of Burden and the Surrealists, among others) and finally, the groundbreaking force of nature that is The Scientists have gotten their due, with this 4 CD, 80 track box set called A Place Called Bad.

Before The Scientists, Salmon led The Cheap Nasties, generally regarded as Perth’s first punk band, with heavy doses of The New York Dolls, the Stooges and the Modern Lovers, influences he would mine for The Scientists. Their first single, “Frantic Romantic” is a Flamin’ Groovies-ish stomper, with Salmon braying over trebly guitars, and the first disc of the set, Cheap and Nasty documents this era of the band’s more “power pop” stage with cuts such as the Dolls-like “Shake Together Tonight” or the speedy “Bet Ya Lyin'”, and if they had been content to pursue this avenue, their mark would have been made. But by the early ’80s they took a more dark turn, trading “loud fast rules” for a bluesy, Gun Club/Cramps-like mood, full of menace and foreboding. Numbers such as “Swampland”, “Clear Spot” and an evil version of CCR’s “It Came Out of the Sky” are highlights of their dark period, and are documented on the next 2 discs, Set It on Fire and When Worlds Collide. The concluding disc is Live Cuts, drawn from shows ranging from Perth in 1978 to Melbourne in 1983, and man, they ruled live. One can almost feel the sweat and smell the hairspray as they careen thru “Solid Gold Hell” or a gnarly version of the Groovies “Slow Death”.

Along with Radio Birdman and the Triffids, The Scientists were the leaders of Australia’s punk movement, and with A Place Called Bad, the rest of the world can catch up to their marvelous squall. The set includes a 66 page book as well as an exhaustive family tree of all the assorted members different groups, but really, all you need is to do is light a smoke, pour some whiskey, and turn the volume up to 11. The Scientists will do the rest, believe you me. Classic stuff, lovingly presented.

www.numerogroup.com

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Music Reviews

Javier Escovedo

Javier Escovedo

Kicked Out Of Eden

Saustex Media

While he might not get as much press as this more heralded brother, Alejandro, Javier Escovedo is every bit the rocker. From forming The Zeros in 1977- their punky “Wild Weekend” is one of the highlights of the era- to joining his brother in the True Believers in the ’80s, Javier has honed his lean, cutting style of guitar histrionics into a Johnny Thunders/Rick Richards groove, and his latest, Kicked Out Of Eden will satisfy anyone looking for that certain something that has long been out of step since the New York Dolls quit treading the boards.

Opening with “Downtown” you’d swear it was Max’s Kansas City in the ’70s, Escovedo’s gritty guitar starting the record on a high note indeed. Joined by Brad Rice on guitar (The Backsliders, Keith Urban), they quickly establish a Stoneish strut with cuts such as “It Ain’t Easy” and “This Side of Nowhere”, while “Just Like All The Rest” is a slice of power pop fueled by chiming Rickenbackers, ala The Byrds.

But lest you forget what’s what, Escovedo pops out “Bad and Good” which is pure garage-style swagger, while “Gypsy Son” sounds like a lost Flamin’ Groovies outtake. Just pure bliss, full of Escovedo’s punk background and hard-lived life. Kicked Out Of Eden is pure manna from guitar heaven. Who needs Eden, anyway? Javier Escovedo sure don’t.

www.saustex.com

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Music Reviews

Monster Magnet

Monster Magnet

God Says No

A&M

Considering the glowing press Monster Magnet were getting across the pond earlier this year, it’s damn near shocking that their latest, God Says No, is less than underwhelming. Not that Magnet necessarily had to make good on the promise of predecessor Powertrip‘s chart-terrorism, but that would’ve been halfway more exciting than this. Clever title or not, God Says No is similarly laced with hooks, but perhaps with ones that are too drug-addled • in other words, boring (yeah, I know lead Monster Dave Wyndorf’s been clean n’ sober for a few years now, so maybe the inverse is true) • for their own good, ones that are cycled and recycled to the point of exhaustion, both for band and listener. In fact, this record kinda reminds me of my few Flamin’ Groovies experiences: dull hooks repeated ad nauseum, and overrated all the while. Sure, things cook up toward the end • “My Little Friend” and “Cry” pound away into the ether all Loop-like, and “Queen Of You” and “Take It” maintain some alluringly restrained old-school electro tendencies, ala Suicide or Tubeway Army • but having to slog through nearly 40 minutes of tedium to get to such is, again, exhausting. And, again, color me underwhelmed, and more than a bit disgruntled • indeed, God Says No.

A&M, 2220 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404; http://www.monstermagnet.net

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Music Reviews

Flamin’ Groovies/Flamin’ Groovies

Flamin’ Groovies

Flamingo (reissue)

Buddha

Flamin’ Groovies

Teenage Head (reissue)

Buddha

Pound for pound, San Francisco’s Flamin’ Groovies put down more molten slabs of killer wax than most bands before or since. Forged of a mixture of British pop, Delta blues, and punk garage energy, Roy Loney and crew wrote some wicked tunes. Their third album, Flamingo , featured classics such as “Comin’ After Me” and “Second Cousin,” along with covers of “Keep a Knockin’,” among others. The fourth record, Teenage Head , the last featuring Loney, has the killer title cut (which could be a teen horror movie outline), as well as other killer bits of boogie. Buddha’s reissues include a ton of extra cuts that allow the newbie to fully appreciate a band that at their best stomped all the competition at the time, and provided the groundwork for later acts such as Royal Trux.

Buddha Records, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036; http://www.buddharecords.com