published: 25 /
In our Re:View section, in which our writers look back at albums from the past, Adrian Huggins examines 'Supersnazz', the 1969 debut album of 60s underground icons the Flamin' Groovies
Originally released way back in September of 1969, ‘Supersnazz’ has been made available again on CD for 2015.
The Flamin’ Groovies originated in San Francisco during the 1960’s. 'Supersnazz' was their debut album, released through Epic Records, but poor sales led to the band being dropped not long after its release. They eventually signed with Sire a little later in their career.
While they were never quite big enough in the US mainstream to shift the sort of units the majors were after at the time, the band translated much better overseas, especially in Britain and Germany. Their sound would also help catalyse the punk movement. This re-release coincides with a string of dates the band are set to play throughout the USA during the final few months of 2015.
With 'Supersnazz' the Flamin' Groovies effortlessly and smoothly blend rock and roll, rockabilly, a little bit of blues and what sounds to me like a definite nod to Merseybeat which was possibly a little too ahead of its time.
Even though the band has an unmistakable 60s ‘vibe’ the album is by no means dated or lacking in imagination. There are shades in the performance and energy of the album that clearly make up the attitude and ferocity of what would eventually be known as punk. It's particularly noticeable on the opening few tracks ‘Love Have Mercy’ and ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ and their own rendition of Eddie Cochran’s ‘Something Else’.
The guitar work is free and uncompromising in a world which was by contrast still breaking free of the traditional constraints of music structure. This is emphasised further by the energy that flows from the rhythm section throughout the more upbeat and lively tracks, the album has a very ‘live’ performance feel to it.
I did feel that some of the mellower stripped-back songs such as ‘Pagan Rachel’ did hold a bit of that twee 60s acoustic feel to them but nevertheless sat comfortably among the more ambitious moments of the album.
‘Supersnazz’ has plenty of similar elements sound and attitude wise to the Beach Boys and also the Beatles sound nestled between their first emergence as a ‘pop’ group and their first forays into the more politically motivated performance and songwriting.
Far from squeaky clean, I found this album to be fun, energetic and lose throughout and was actually quite surprised that it was released such a long time ago. Hopefully this re-release will help the band see the band have a resurgence and will open them up to a new audience.