Song of the Day: Flamin’ Groovies “Shake Some Action”
Unleashing arguably the best power pop this side of Big Star, the second iteration of the Flamin’ Groovies went for gold on their 1976 album, Shake Some Action. The title track, which kicks off the album, is absolute perfection: an early Beatles/Kinks-inflected pop song that bounds forward on its own relentless energy while still being absolute overflowing with ear worms. Every single time I hear this song, I fall in love with it and the band all over again. Everything about the track, from the slightly surfy guitar tones, to the bouncy baseline, to the brilliantly minimalist guitar solo, to the primal shout that comes right before the solo, to the slighty amateurish sounding backing vocals, is absolutely endearing.
Shake Some Action was the Groovies‘ first record in 5 years – since the underground garage rock classic Teenage Head – and featured a completely new line-up and sound from that stomping garage classic. The band had toned down the finely-honed menace that informed their earlier work in exchange for a pure pop exterior. The change came after a shake-up in personnel. The band’s twin founders, Ron Loney and Cyril Jordan had never quite seen eye-to-eye on the band’s direction. While Loney‘s more Rolling Stones-inspired garage rockabilly approach had determined the direction of the band to that point, when the group’s records failed to sell as expected, Jordan forced Loney out of the band and refashioned the group into an early power pop machine.
While Shake Some Action also didn’t sell particularly well, the record gained a cult following and along with Big Star, the group were parachuted to the forefront of the imaginations of the underground power pop movement that consumed indie rock during the early part of the ’80s. Group’s such as The Plimsouls, Teenage Fanclub and others clearly channeled much of the energy that the Flamin’ Groovies helped unleash. Beware though, in an effort to cash-in on their new found notoriety, the Groovies recorded a new but vastly inferior version of “Shake Some Action” during the mid-80s featuring some of the production norms of the time. If you stick to the 1976 original though, the rewards are great.