It's Flamin' Groovy!

Chris Wilson

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It's Flamin' Groovy! Review

by Mark Deming

Chris Wilson's career in music didn't begin or end with the Flamin' Groovies -- he'd sung with the band Loose Gravel before joining the Groovies in the wake of vocalist Roy Loney's resignation in 1971, and he was later a member of the Barracudas, cut a 1993 album with the Sneetches, and released a handful of solo sets. But 2014's It's Flamin' Groovy! is clearly targeted at fans of the iconic retro-pop band, and even features several fellow Groovies alumni on board as guests, including Roy Loney, guitarists Cyril Jordan, James Ferrell and Mike Wilhelm, and bassist George Alexander. The opening track, "All the Action," is an obvious homage to the classic Groovies tune "Shake Some Action" (even lifting a few bits from the lyrics), while "Shake That Feeling" and "Can't Let Go" lean heavily on the British Invasion-era pop/rock that was the Groovies' clearest influence during Wilson's tenure. "Gamblin' Man" even offers a dash of the rawer rock sounds that dominated the Roy Loney version of the group. It's Flamin' Groovy! is most satisfying when Wilson and his pals are following the template of their best-known band, but at the same time, Wilson seems more emotionally committed to the blues and folk-rock slanted numbers that fill out the album and feature his most impassioned vocals. Wilson is in good voice and his melodies are pleasing, but even though he can knock off a reasonable approximation of the Flamin' Groovies circa Shake Some Action, his heart doesn't always seem to be in it, while the material that compels him the most frankly isn't as interesting. Perhaps this is a product of working with so many of his former bandmates on this project; Wilson might be best off either organizing a Flamin' Groovies reunion in the studio or stepping away with a fresh set of musicians, because trying to have it both ways on this album doesn't entirely work.

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