Flamin' Groovies

Replay: Groovies Greatest

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The Flamin' Groovies cut six studio albums during their classic period between 1968 to 1979, and two latter-day sets can be added to their legitimate catalog, but like such similarly influential bands as the Stooges and the MC5, their relatively small output of studio efforts has been dwarfed by a steady stream of dodgy releases featuring live material, demos, outtakes, and assorted ephemera. Replay: Groovies Greatest is a two-disc set that's compiled from some of these oddball later day releases, and ultimately adds to the pile rather than whittling it down. Twelve of the 17 tunes on disc one originally comprised the 1987 album One Night Stand, cut (as the title suggests) in a single evening during a visit to Australia by a lineup that featured only two original members of the Groovies, Cyril Jordan (vocals and guitar) and George Alexander (bass and vocals). The band rolled through a set of their best-known tunes along with a few covers, and they sound competent and tight but well short of inspired, and Jordan's vocals on "Teenage Head" and "Slow Death" don't hold a candle to what original lead singer Roy Loney did with those tunes back in the day. The other five tracks on disc one are a real grab bag, some from the Groovies' self-released debut EP, Sneakers, and others from their mid-'70s sessions with Dave Edmunds (including an alternate take of "You Tore Me Down" that could pass for the version on the Shake Some Action album but for the vocals). Disc two offers up an edited and resequenced version of Live at the Festival of the Sun, which documents a 1987 gig in Barcelona, Spain. The group sounds plenty enthusiastic on this particular evening, but Jordan's guitar work was having an off night and it seems a little odd that the Groovies felt the need to throw in versions of tunes by the Hoodoo Gurus, the Plimsouls, and Rockpile into the set, as if they were making like a cover band in order to keep the audience happy. (The recording also sounds like a soundboard tape, with the balance favoring the vocals and the guitars and the audience barely audible.) Fans looking at the track selection for Replay: Groovies Greatest might think they're getting something special, but unfortunately, this doesn't include definitive versions of any of these great songs, and what's here is performed by a truncated version of an influential group; loyal fans don't need this (many probably already have at least some of it), while beginners would be far better off with the compilations Groovies' Greatest Grooves or This Band Is Red Hot.

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