After leaving San Francisco and living in England for four years, the Flamin’ Groovies released Shake Some Action in 1976. At the time, the song peaked at number 142 in the Billboard Charts. And while the album was commercially modest, it’s proven deeply influential over time. The title track alone was the subject and title of chapter one in Greil Marcus’ “The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs.” Marcus writes about the song, saying “for as long as it lasts the music has called up the players, not the other way around.” And the music is still calling up the players, because the Flamin’ Groovies are playing the album in entirety at the Chapel on April 17. It marks the 40th anniversary of the release.
The band formed in San Francisco in 1965, originally calling themselves the Chosen Few. While the Fillmore West and Avalon Ballroom scenes blossomed with stylishly difficult-to-read posters and half-hour songs, the Flamin’ Groovies were rifling through three-minute rock n’ roll tantrums. Sometime around 1970 they performed “Golden Clouds” — a song off Sneakers, their first EP — at the Matrix, a club that purportedly opened so Jefferson Airplane had a place to consistently play. The song, and this recording in particular, chug along with distinctly american sounding grit, proudly strutting what make the Flamin’ Groovies so unique.
Collective memory of San Francisco in the sixties and seventies – especially among people like me, who were at the time roughly negative twenty years old – is a story of psychedelia and not ‘the man’, which is probably why the Flamin’ Groovies so often and comfortably get toted as the cult band; they don’t fit in to the narrative written around them, or about the city that fostered them, which is probably why they moved to England and experienced greater success. Call it anachronistic, call it antagonistic, the Groovies’ sound stood ‘adjacent to’, or ‘up against’ – which either confuses or reorients the seedlings of punk rock from New York and the UK to something a little more California born and bred.
The band is currently working on a full length studio album and documentary, both of which are set to release sometime in 2016.
The Flamin’ Groovies, Kelly Stoltz
April 17, 2017
8pm, $20-22 (all ages)