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FLAMIN' GROOVIES - Live 1971 San Francisco LP

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FLAMIN' GROOVIES - Live 1971 San Francisco LP

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You could hardly invent a more perfect template for a pre-punk cult rock band than the Flamin’ Groovies. Though their 1965 formation and 1968 recorded debut place them squarely in the hippie era, they purveyed a prescient and influential back-to-basics ethos, with a roots-and-blues approach that was of its time at first, but increasingly out of touch with the ongoing shift to psychedelia happening in the San Francisco scene from which the band sprung. Their second incarnation, post-1971, saw the band landing squarely in the power-pop realm, and by 1976, their album Shake Some Action was produced by key pub rock/new wave crossover figure Dave Edmunds, and they were being acknowledged not just as an influence, but a exponent of the new music, and were featured on compilations along with the Ramones, the Dead Boys, and the Damned.

Naturally, their legacy as innovators being secured, commercial failure ensued, but commercial failure often only intensifies a cult following, and indeed, though Groovies fans are few compared to the followings of other ’60s and ’70s trailblazers, they’re a dedicated lot, and the title cut from Shake Some Action remains a minor classic. As the band’s classic phase saw two significant incarnations, they have a divided fan base, with a faction favoring the earlier, rootsier band featuring singer/guitarist Roy Loney along with main man Cyril Jordan, and others devoted to the power pop incarnation that evolved after Jordan brought in front man Chris Wilson.

But one of the band’s most enduring tunes bridges their two incarnations. Co-written by Loney before his 1971 exit, but a 1972 single with Wilson and a live staple, “Slow Death” is a pretty blunt anti-drug anthem:

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