Flamin' Groovies

Sneakers [EP]

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The Sneakers EP (1968) -- the first release from the San Francisco-based Flamin' Groovies -- reflects the combo's earliest incarnation, featuring Cyril Jordan (guitar/vocals), Roy Loney (guitar/vocals), Tim Lynch (guitar), George Alexander (bass), and Danny Mihm (drums). After changing their name from "Lost and Found" in late 1966, the Groovies gained a significant following at their local concert performances in and around the fertile Bay Area scene. One of the primary distinguishing factors on the seven selections cut for their debut is the strong showing of original material combining the burgeoning psychedelia with a notable attitude vacillating between folk and punk. A perfect example is "I'm Drowning," which opens with the juxtaposition of jug band met head on with a searing electric guitar. The upbeat good-time arrangement could easily be mistaken for the likes of the Lovin' Spoonful, who were clearly the motivation for "Babes in the Sky." So much so that the introduction is practically a note-for-note derivation of John Sebastian's ode to Music City U.S.A., "Nashville Cats." The selection is delivered in a vintage style reminiscent of Sopwith Camel's "Hello, Hello" or the swinging and jazzy New Vaudeville Band's novelty hit "Winchester Cathedral." The other sides of the Groovies' sonic spectrum are examined on the mid-tempo ballad "Lovetime" and the conversely heavy and garage-influenced "Golden Clouds" as well as the decidedly funkier "Slide," which includes some propulsive fretwork from Alexander. The platter concludes with the cryptically titled "Prelude in a Flat to Afternoon of a Pud," clocking in at a mere 84 seconds. While not entirely dismissible thanks to some truly inspired jamming, the instrumental rave-up seems to be more of an exercise in excess than anything else. Initial pressings of the EP have become eagerly sought after by collectors, as there were less than 2,000 copies in circulation. Sundazed Music issued a CD version of the Sneakers EP, coupled with ten songs from a set at the Matrix in San Francisco circa 1968 on the highly recommended Supersneakers (1996).

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