The Flamin' Groovies have announced three new US tour dates in July, all in Northern California, as well as a change of line-up.The band's new rhythm section is Chris von Sneidern (“CvS”) on bass guitar and Tony Sales on drums. Longtime bassist George Alexander and Victor Penalosa appear to have stood down.
CvS is a well-known San Francisco musician with several acclaimed albums, and was the subject of the 2009 documentary, "Why Isn’t Chris von Sneidern Famous?". Tony is the son of Tony Sales and nephew of Hunt Sales (who together formed the famous rhythm section in David Bowie’s band, Tin Machine, and recorded and toured with Iggy Pop and Todd Rundgren, among others).
As the Flamin’ Groovies celebrate 50 years with a special gig in San Francisco this week, DAVE "DOG MEAT" LAING checks out their new single vinyl seven-inch, "Crazy Macy" b/w "Let Me Rock"...
Okay, so the Flamin’ Groovies have a new single out for Record Store Day, on the very cool Californian Burger Records label. This is exciting stuff – even more exciting than walking into my first Groovies show on the ’86 Australian tour, seeing they had a new single (“Way Over My Head’ b/w ’Shakin’’) for sale, and buying five copies of it because I never knew if I’d see it again.
That was what, maybe five or six years since their previous release, the “River Deep Mountain High” single? This one comes more than 25 years since we’ve heard anything new from the band – a long fucking time.
Of course the Groovies, with ’71-’80 lead singer Chris Wilson back in place, have been back in action since the second-last Dig It Up! Festival in Australia a few years back.
While we Down Under may have copped them a tad underdone (the Caravan Club show on Melbourne was sensational though), a look at more recent YouTube footage shows the band firing on all cylinders and sounding very much like they must’ve live in ’75 or so, on the cusp of releasing the landmark “Shake Some Action” LP.
The Flamin' Groovies in Paris in 1972 with James Ferrell at right.
Long obscured in the Flamin’ Groovies behind Cyril Jordan, Roy Loney, Chris Wilson and even tight-lipped man of mystery, George Alexander, guitarist James Ferrell is a key player in the band’s story. Along with his best pal Danny Mihm, James served in both the Loney-fronted and Wilson-fronted incarnations of the Groovies, and in Loney’s brilliant subsequent band, Roy Loney & The Phantom Movers.
James climbed aboard the Groovies train, replacing Tim Lynch, in Roy’s final days – he plays on the classic 1971 Fillmore recording that’s been released on both Voxx and Norton as well as other labels – and lasted through to 1976. He took part in the early European sojourns, their time with UA in London and the prime days of their relationship with Dave Edmunds and Rockfield Studios. That relationship produced game-changing 45’s, including “Slow Death” and “You Tore Me Down”, as well as the landmark and hugely influential "Shake Some Action" album.
James was there for the band’s legendary shows with the Ramones – on the 1976 Bicentennial bill in London and in LA - before departing the band and ultimately falling back in with Roy and Danny.