Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Continuing the Flamin' Groovies story through the 1960s, after their self-released Sneakers EP met with some DIY success, the Groovies were snapped up by Epic records, and sent to L.A. to record a full-length album. Almost overnight, they went from recording Sneakers for a total cost of about 700 dollars (7 hours of studio time at $100 per) to recording an LP in a big studio with a budget of over 80 thousand dollars.

With the increased budget, the band and label threw everything they had into the Supersnazz album. Epic were trying to promote the Groovies as rock & roll revivalists like Sha Na Na, so the first two singles were covers of 50s rockers ( Huey "Piano" Smith's "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu" and Eddie Cochran's "Somethin' Else"). Other songs had horns and strings arranged by Jack Nitzsche (fresh from working on Let It Bleed and Neil Young's debut), multi-tracked vocal harmonies, and other tricks of the era.

The combination of retro and modern confounded most fans and critics, but one review that seemed to "get it" at the time was this review in Rolling Stone by a young contrarian named Lester Bangs.
Supersnazz indeed: Chuck Berry hot licks, pistol-packin' mamas, rockin' pneumonia and boogie woogie flu!--sans corroding traces of the condescension, dilettantism and sweaty strain which usually mar this kind of thing. The Groovies, like no other group working in this area, communicate the sense of truly youthful enthusiasm and fun which was at the heart of early rock&roll
Unfortunately, truly youthful enthusiasm and fun weren't in very high demand in the heavy rock era of 1969, so Supersnazz had trouble finding an audience, and the Flamin' Groovies were quietly dropped by Epic just a few months after the album dropped.

Forty years later, opinions on Supersnazz are divided even among Groovies fanatics, but it's always been one of my favorite FGs albums. It's a little "all over the place" stylistically, but it's a fun record that always puts me in a good mood when I put it on. The final song, "Around The Corner", is a particular fave.

Supersnazz has been reissued a couple of times on CD, but it's completely out of print and impossible to find now (the Amazon entry simply says "This item has been discontinued by the manufacturer"). There's nothing more lonely than a major label record that didn't sell.

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