The Flamin’ Groovies “Sneakers”
This was their 10 inch 7 song debut, released in early 1968. Throughout their career the Flamin’ Groovies went through multiple phases though many feel that the Sneakers to Teenage Head era was the band’s finest. During this period the band produced some of the best proto punk hard rock records around.
In the late 70′s people started realizing the band’s importance and influence on the emerging punk scene. The band finally received an enormous amount of respect from the rock press during this period. This late 70′s version was led by Cyril Jordan, releasing a trio of superb British Invasion style garage albums. The Sneakers/Roy Loney led Flamin’ Groovies were a totally different animal. They resided in San Fransisco and played a greasy old fashioned brand of rock n roll that was also influenced by monster British Invasion bands such as the The Who, Rolling Stones and Kinks (started circa 1965/66). The Groovies played the same psychedelic ballrooms as Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, thus making them hopelessly out of step with the acid daze.
This little album will most likely appeal to psych fans though, as there are plenty of excellent fuzz solos traded through Sneaker’s seven songs. Some of the songs have a charming Lovin’ Spoonful folk-rock jugband influence as heard on Lovetime and Babes In The Sky. My Yada is somewhat similar and a definite highlight, being the strangest amalgam of jugband music and psychedelia ever recorded. Golden Clouds, I’m Drowning and Slider are the real highlights. The Groovies recklessly blast through these Roy Loney originals.
They are perfect mixtures of 1967 Rolling Stones and 50′s Sun label rockabilly sound spiked with a tinge of San Fransisco acid.
I have to point out Golden Clouds in particular. It sounds like a classic, the band in all their glory, something you would have heard late at night on underground radio. The guitar solo is positively brilliant, Loney’s vocals surge and strut with confidence and it puts to shame many of today’s more vaunted, though unoriginal corporate cheese acts like the White Stripes, Strokes, Black Keys, and John Spencer.
This 10 inch album was the first of four releases from the Roy Loney era Groovies. During this period their lineup also included Cyril Jordan, Danny Mihm, Tim Lynch and George Alexander. Although they would release two bonafide classics in Flamingo and Teenage Head, Sneakers remains their most honest, fun record to date.