Flamin' Groovy - Chris Wilson (Twenty Stone Blatt Records)
Flamin' Groovy? The verdict is that it is indeed - and why wouldn’t it be? The singer for the most enduring (and some might say best) Flamin’ Groovies pop line-up re-surfaces with a solo album and ropes in Cyril Jordan, George Alexander, Mike Wilhelm - and even original line-up vocalist Roy Loney - from that same storied band.
Tempting as it might have been to play it ultra safe, this is no retread of stylistic past glories. There’s enough jangling Rickenbackers to equip a vintage guitar shop, but Wilson mixes the Groovies pop with Gram-inspired country ballads (“Sempahore Signals”) and Stonesy boogie rock (“Gamblin’ Man”, “Down To The Wire”.) “Gamblin’ Man” is the Loney collaboration and is a stand-out with its spirited vocal and bar room piano. There’s also a long-lost Cyril Jordan Groovies track (“She Satisfies”) that’s fit to rub shoulders with any of their output, and another big chorus song in “Shake That Feeling” that could have been a hit in any previous life.
“Bad Dreams” features well-arranged strings behind a strong Wilson vocal and imparts a Middle Eastern tinge. “All The Action” borrows from “Shake Some Action” to come up with a post script with the message: “It’s up to you to make it happen”. In other hands, such lyrical self-referencing might be ham-fisted. Wilson pulls it off.
It’s tightly played and Wilson’s longtime collaborator and co-guitarist Anthony Clark had a big role in this record’s making. He wrote or co-wrote half the songs and plays throughout.
Truth be known, half this album is updated or remixed songs from two previous Wilson solo albums. To complain too much would be quibbling when you note that the new stuff on this recording was the catalyst for the current Flamin’ Groovies revival.
“It’s Flamin’ Groovy” doesn’t soar to the same heights as the Groovies at their best but it isn’t half bad in its own right. Wilson has his own musical place with a track record that not only includes folk music, the Groovies but the formidable Barracudas as well. And if you’re still hanging out to Shake Some Action, there’s that newly-recorded Groovies album, just waiting in the wings.