Simply by being a great rock’n’roll band the Flamin’ Groovies always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. When the original line up was rockin’ out with albums like Supernazz
and Teenage Head
, their hometown, San Francisco preferred bad acid rock jams (insert name of your least favorite Frisco band here). When the second, equally great line-up made their masterpiece Shake Some Action
, which wasn’t released until 1976, it was the safety pin through the face crowd that ridiculed them, having bought the Clash’s line “no Elvis, Beatles and the Rolling Stones”, the Groovies were again deemed unfashionable. I’m amazed at how few good live tapes of the second line up have surfaced, but I stumbled upon a good one from L’Olympia, Paris, 1975 over at the Boogie Disease
blog or use their direct link to the download (here
). France was one of the few places that appreciated the Flamin’ Groovies. Although it sounds like it’s from an audience recorded cassette tape, the sound is better than the other two bootlegs from that era that I’ve heard (one from the Roxy in LA and another from the Roundhouse in London) and the performance and set list are fantastic, including tunes they didn’t play very often like Teenage Head, Sometimes (which Chris introduces as a Paul Revere & the Raiders tune, I guess he never heard Gene Thomas’ original), Shake Some Action (which they had to stop playing for awhile when Cyril injured his hand), as well as great renditions of the Pretty Things’ Big City, the Stones’ Miss Amanda Jones (one of five Stones covers here if you count Don’t Lie To Me and She Said Yeah, which the Groovies seemed to have learned from the Stones versions, Chris Wilson even introduces She Said Yeah as a Stones tune, again, perhaps unaware of the Larry Williams original). Anyway, the Groovies story has been told many times, and I won’t bother telling it again, but they will always be one of my favorite bands. If you can track down copies of Miriam Linna’s Flamin’ Groovies Monthly
, a digest size fanzine she published when she took over their fan club from Greg Shaw in ’77, it’s one of the best fan mags of all time.
One funny story. When they played the Bottom Line in NYC after Shake Some Action came out, they stalled and stalled before going onstage, waiting for their coke dealer to show. When he didn’t turn up, they finally went on and halfway through the second song they spot the guy walking into the club. The promptly excused themselves from the stage, hit the dressing room, copped, got high, and returned to restart their set from the top, noticeably more energetic. I’ve never even seen Johnny Thunders’ do something that blatant, especially with their entire record company (all five Sire employees) in the audience. What a great band.