spin it sunday

Spin it Sunday Pt. 3 (not on Sunday)

It’s been a couple weeks since the last Spin It Sunday, but fear not: it has made a come back with some excellent San Fran rock (and on a Tuesday, imagine that).

Today’s album is 1976’s Shake Some Action, the fourth album for the San Francisco band the Flamin’ Groovies. It was their first on Sire Records and a clear diversion from their previous work on Kama Sutra. Some people could argue that the album’s predecessor Teenage Head was better, but there’s pop-punk charm  on Shake Some Action that’s so sweet to love. Listening to the album is just so right – so groovy and 70’s.

On the album, 7 of the 14 tracks are covers, but that doesn’t mean the album lacks originality. It actually works. The psychedelic feel to Gene & Debbie’s “Sometimes” ditty is incredibly inventive. Goes to prove that a love song always has a good chance of crossing the Genres River. Other covers are quite surprising, but a reminder that bands might have better taste in music than we mere mortals do (example: “Saint Louis Blues,” the Chuck Berry version).

That’s not to say that the originals aren’t as strong. “Shake Some Action” and “Yes It’s True” are about just as classic, if only a little underestimated. The album moves smoothly between psychedelic, rock ‘n’ roll, and 60’s British Invasion.

I’ve already mentioned this quote before from Mickey Leigh’s I Slept With Joey Ramone, but it’s one of my favourite moments of published music writing:

“…Arlene and I spontaneously embraced and locked lips in a steaming kiss – and that was it. That was all it took. Something clicked on, or off or both. When I kissed her, every light in the place went out – except the one shining on her. Like it or not, I was in deep. I was a goner. I can still hear the Flamin’ Groovies “Shake Some Action” playing in the background.”

What Mickey has to say about the moment he fell in love is an absolute picture of what it feels like to listen to Shake Some Action. The album, especially the title single, is so an album to love and dream to. That’s why when I purchased the vinyl in Greenwich a couple months ago, the clerk broke his sullen disposition to grin and remark, “God! Fantastic this album!”

Shake Some Action is a the very definition of a hidden gem. Worth plucking out of the vinyl collection if you’re lucky to stumble upon a copy. Take a listen and enjoy a nice moment of 70’s

The band recently finished a tour, and have a new EP out. They don’t run a website, but you can keep up-to-date with them on their Facebook page here.

Special shout-out to my wonderful, sick, poor boyfriend who took this photograph for me.

Spin It Sunday Pt. 2

Welcome to the intergalactic world of Gary Numan and his Tubeway Army. It’s Spin it Sunday and I’m indulging in 1978’s Tubeway Army.

Side A

This album is what I would consider a rather fast moving album. Free of clutter and un-needed brush: it moves through each track without hesitation. The first two opening tracks “Listen to the Sirens” and “My Shadow in Vain” create one of the best openings of any post-punk album (or should we call it synth-pop?).

At this point in Numan’s career, there’s a lot less originality. Fairly standard funk bass-lines, but Numan’s astounding voice stands between him and everyone else. If you’re familiar with Numan’s career, there are subtle hints of his signature synth sound that comes through distinctly on certain tracks like “Something’s in the House.”  Sometimes looking backwards on a musician’s career is the best way to look at them.

When the album finally creaks onto “Every Day I Die” side A is slowing to stop. It’s not great. But the good news is, a Sci Fi feature will be on Side B.

Side B

“Steel and You” is a gem on the album. Particularly for it’s lyrics: “Just my steel friend and me. I stand brave by his side. This machine is all I live for.” My boyfriend is off on about Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick. I’m assuming this is what this track is supposed to make us think about. You know, “Look I’m in a space ship with only aliens and robots as friends!”

I say it’s more atmospheric. Boyfriend says menacing. Side B is getting samey. Not in a great way. “Are You Real?” is making everyone (all two of us) cringe slightly. Not saying that there are plenty of amazing stand alone tracks. Maybe we’re too busy thinking about chocolate souffles.

Unfortunately, the space exploration of the album only picks up at the last two tracks. “Zero Bars (Mr. Smith)” has us searching through asteroid belts once more before turning out for the night.

On a final note, Tubeway Army isn’t that solid of an album, but it’s certainly a promising debut that lead way to the classic Replicas. Definitely worth a listen for a trippy space ride, but maybe it’s best just to stick to Earth.

Gary Numan’s new album “Splinter” is out October 15.