GOT ME A HOT ONE - Roy Loney & Senor No (Bloody Hotsak)
Roy Loney needs no introduction and neither should Senor No if you're a fan of Real Rock and Roll. It's no surprise that it should have been recorded in Spain, one of the final outposts for music that doesn't suck the big one and a country where it seems Roy has been bestowed honorary citizenship. So we have Spain's best tough 'n' nasty band behind one of rock and roll's best frontmen. Let's rumble.
This album's hotter than Thai cooking by a sadist chef and burns at both ends like a stick of dynamite with two fuses. Senor No are tighter than a metrosexual Scotsman's grip on his man-bag and have a monstrous engine room commanded by Guantxe on drums. This guy nails the beat to the floor like a master floorboard installer. Twin guitars finish do the job, coup de grace fashion.
And of course so does Senor Loney who's in devastating form. There's a sprinkling of oldies, a handful of other people's songs and a goodly contingent of newer tunes. The hard-strumming "Diablo", a dusty and sharp slide-assisted rough-rider, and the '50s-styled title track both pack knuckle dusters in a velvet glove.
You want straight-up rockers? "Dance With Me" has have more conviction than a jail-full of amateur car thieves. The chiming "My Heart Has Had Enough" is the album's genuine pop moment, a wistful yet gritty dissertation that i like immensely. Odds are so will you if you have a pulse.
Sharp-eared/old Aussies will recognise "Cara-lin" as a song that Normie Rowe rode up the charts in the '60s (and that gave the Hoodoo Gurus the drum feel for "Like Wow Wipeout".) Roy has had a go at this in his Phantom Movers days and this updated version's a keeper. Ditto on both counts for "Love Is a Spider" where guest Jesus Aranburu tickles the varies in praiseworthy style and gives the tune new legs.
The Kinks' "Act Nice And Gentle" (the B side of "Waterloo Sunset") is Loney-ized a treat and his roughed-up re-take of the Groovies' own "heading' For The Texas Border" is worth bottling many times over.
This album is definitely worth laying your hard-earned down for and don't. worry about the shipping charges. They're nothing in the scheme of things. I scored my copy from Career's online shop or you can go to the label. - The Barman
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A HUNDRED MILES AN HOUR 1978-1989 - Roy Loney & The Phantom Movers (Raven)
If you think Roy Loney's post-Groovies career only regained momentum with his current band, The Longshots and his elevation to royalty in Spain, think again. The Australian label that's an archivist's delight, Raven, has filled the gaps like tiler's grout with a collection that's essential for any fan of the man.
Putting things in context, the Phantom Movers were an extension of the early Flamin' Groovies in all but name, containing ex-members backing their former frontman who'd been plying a music industry sales job in San Francisco. As this collection shows, the Movers borrowed bit and pieces from all over to unleash a potent mix of folksy rock and rollin' blues, but Roy never lost his love of rockabilly.
Wisely ignoring 1981's "Contents Under Pressure" - well-named but also ultimately insubstantial in a cheesy, new-wave kinda way, although I will exempt the cover of the Easybeats' "Sorry" - "A Hundred Miles An Hour" cherry-picks the remaining five LPs and EP to roll out 28 tracks of primo pulsation.
"A Hundred Miles An Hour" is arranged chronologically and my first reaction was that the omission of most of "Phantom Tracks" (my personal post-Groovies Roy discovery point) was a mistake. After a few listens, however, it's clear that what's been assembled is a cohesive collection that stands whose pluses well outweigh its minus. Greasy R & B abounds and Loney might be one of traditional rock and roll's best re-packagers, but it's almost always imbued with massive streaks of his own distinctive vocal character.
What might surprise is the driving aggression in the acoustic guitar bedrock of many of these songs, especially the early ones. The title track and "Born To Be Your Fool" (from 1979's "Out After Dark") really show off the hard-strumming smarts that made the Phantom Movers out of the ordinary in a field of punks and Rickebacker revivalists.
Speaking of, that's not to say the band then bearing the Flamin' Groovies name as something to sniff at (especially in full-blown pop-rock mode) but their Fab Four-fixated moments tested the friendship. The Prime Movers were too busy bouncing a whole bag of different balls around the musical basketball court and developed their own cachet among the critical cognoscenti.
If you want to get way reflective, Roy's most backward-looking moments are a cool cover of "Return To Sender" that outdoes The King, the Bo Diddley beat-and-rusty-slide-powered "Chicken Run Around" and an impossibly swinging "Lana Lee" (where the sax and piano threaten to set up their own independent island state and take rock and roll there to live in exile.)
"San Francisco Girls" takes bar-room keys and a liberal dose of fuzz, apply some doo-wop and summon up a sharp pop-rocker that would have sat very nicely on "Teenage Head".
Cast an eye over the personnel and you'll see Groovie names like Danny Mihm, Cyril Jordan, George Alexander, Tim Lynch and Mike Wilhelm (among many others.) Who said incest was restricted to Tasmania/Arkansas?
Dave Laing (Lord of the Savage Beat label and onetime Keeper of the Dog Meat imprint) lays it all out, historically-speaking, in the ever incisive liners, but the proof of this album is in the listening.
If you'd forgotten how great Roy's '70s/'80s post-Groovies stuff was or you never knew, you'll love this. Trust me on this one. - The Barman
SHAKE IT OR LEAVE IT - Roy Loney and The Longshots (Career Records)
This is such a varied and wild trip it's hard to work out where to begin. It's like Roy Loney's coalesced 45 years of rock and roll and squeezed it all into one focussed, beguiling, compelling and head-spinning cocktail. Shaken AND stirred.
"Shake It Or Leave It" pits Roy and his murderously good band on a musical Race Around the World where they visit as many stops as possible on a 35-minute trip (and shoot the journey on a widescreen Handicam.) It's prime time material that in no way limits itself to mere Goodtime Rock and Roll. There's plenty of that in evidence, sure, but with lashings of pop, country, boogie-woogie (natch') and psychedelia. Open the ears and take in the goodness.
While the post-Roy Groovies developed an infatuation with the music of the Beatles in the '70s, before morphing into sub-metal-ish rockers in the '80s (I blamed the hired drummer), Roy Loney's roots were always planted firmly in the '50s. Pre their parting, he and his bandmates wrestled with trippiness ("Sneakers"), slick boogie-woogie pop ("Supersnazz") and (at their peak) greasy Stones grooves ("Flamingo", "Teenage Head".) Some would say they out-Stonesed the Stones on those two. You'll go a long way to find two albums that were less of their time and place (hippy dippy San Francisco) but still wildly relevant today.
While the rockin' edge went off the band with Loney's departure, they were still capable of pop greatness - "Shake Some Action" anyone? Undoubtedly, however, Roy was the beating rock and roll heart that gave the band its centre. Not that he was reactionary; striking out on his own, Loney wore musical clothing that remained true to his roots but eclectic, if occasionally wayward.
This is the best Roy since that Phantom Movers EP, 20-something years ago. I say that, hand on heart, in the belief that the pastoral, olde harpsichord pop of "Hamlet's Brother, Happy" or the languid, acid-tinged moodsetter "Subterranean Waterfalls" - on which Jim Sangster's distant guitar weaves its way through shrouds of muted organ and splashed cymbals - might confound as many fans as they win. No matter - things come back to earth with "Miss Val Dupree", where The Longshots (and guest Deniz Tek) sound like a contemporary Dylan backing band, and there's the reverb rock-along of "Big Time Love", if you need more convincing.
This is An American Album. Identifiably so. There's also not a dull moment in this musical film noir world. "Raw Deal" is the Real Deal - 1min22sec of breathless Ronnie Dawson-style rockabilly that chugs past like a locomotive, while "Don't Like Nothin'" is all fuzzed up on some prime Tek and Joey Kline guitar interplay. "The Great Divide" is jangly, vulnerable pop and "The Big Nada" is spicy spaghetti-western-cum-country rock.
Clear-headed production by Ron Sanchez, Jim Sangster, Roy and Deniz Tek yields an album that's vibrant and radio-friendly but still capable of getting its rocks off.
Someone on a Loney mailing list opined that this was an album where Roy indulges his inner Charlie Feathers. Can't top that. - The Barman
Back in ’71, the line on Roy Loney’s band the Flamin’ Groovies was that, with their album "Teenage Head", they’d beaten the Rolling Stones at their own game. It wasn’t exactly true, but then again, most of the people who were making that comparison were rockcrits who preferred the punk energy of the ’65 Stones (which the Groovies had in spades because they worked hard at it) to the jaded pseudo-decadence of the then-current model; one can only guess what said rockcrits would make of what the Rolling Stones have become in 2007. (A hedge fund? A tourist attraction?) But I digress.
Loney bolted the Groovies not long after "Teenage Head"’s ignominious commercial failure and has spent the last 30 years doing estimable but under-the-radar revivalist solo work. In 2004, Montana-based Career Records (the label run by Donovan’s Brain honcho Ron Sanchez and Radio Birdman leading light Deniz Tek) released Loney’s "Drunkard In the Think Tank", an album he’d been shopping around for a couple of years. On "Shake It Or Leave It", a new recording of all original material, Loney takes on nothing less than the Whole History of Rock’n’Roll (or at least the parts of it he digs), backed by musos from Seattle’s Young Fresh Fellows with a few special guests.
This is the kind of disc that record store geeks used to love to play “spot the influence” with (and yes, I used to be exactly that kind of record store geek). Opening salvo “Baby Du Jour” chugs along with the good-natured spirit of Dave Edmunds’ Rockpile, while “Big Time Love” has the mid-tempo swagger and slap-back echo of Gene Vincent’s “Be Bop A Lula.” “The Great Divide” combines the jingle-jangle and vocal harmonies of a Gene Clark-sung Byrdsong with "Highway 61 Revisited" organ and George Harrisonic slide guitar flourishes. “Big Fat Nada” sounds like a collision of Buddy Holly’s Crickets (the vocals) and Johnny Cash’s Tennessee Three (the bumpa-chicka rhythm), while “Raw Deal” conjures Sun rockabilly, complete with Scotty Moore-styled guitar break. “Danger Waves” ventures into Merseybeat territory -- especially the Ringo-esque drum fills.
“Don’t Like Nothin’” gives us fuzztone-blaring garage punk a la the Count Five or Shadows of Night, complete with rave-up raga in the middle, while “Subterranean Waterfalls” is full-on, reverb-heavy Chocolate Watchband studio psychedelia. You can almost feel the presence of Ed Cobb in the background, pulling the strings. “Hamlet’s Brother, Happy” is a Kinksian little ditty with lyrics featuring the kind of Shakespearean allusions you’d expect from a guy who once wrote “I’m going to make my second cousin my first wife.” “Miss Val Dupree” taps into the same Tejano polka thump as Sir Douglas Quintet’s “She’s About A Mover,” down to the cheesy Farfisa organ. “Looking for the Body” runs ‘50s rock through the filter of the Move circa “California Man,” albeit with a much cleaner production sound; dig the first, out-of-kilter guitar solo. Finally, “Hey Now” finds Roy & Co. back in Rockpile territory.
In a just universe, Roy Loney would be at least as well known as Nick Lowe, which is to say, less famous than Sir Mick Jagger, but more famous than the guy in the pub at the end of the street. From the Flamin’ Groovies on up to the present, his music has been imbued with a playful sense of fun that the Rawk can always use more of. Bless him. - Ken Shimamoto
DRUNKARD IN THE THINK TANK Roy Loney and The Longshots (Career Records)
It should come as no shock that Roy Loney's gone and put out a gem like "Drunkard". The original singer for San Francisco's Flamin' Groovies has a noteworthy, under-appreciated but hard-to-find solo back catalogue (chase down the Phantom Movers for proof) that shows he's forgotten more about rocking than most will ever know.
This one had been sitting in the vault for a few years, before old mate and Career co-honcho Ron Sanchez talked Roy into giving him the rights. Barely a month in the racks and it's walking out the Career warehouse door. No wonder.
The Longshots, whose ranks include a collection of North-West musical luminaries like Scott McCaughey (Fresh Young Fellows) and ex-Donovan's Brain guitarist Jim Sangster, are a primo outfit. The songs are clean and catchy mid-tempo rockers, often playfully executed.
"Drunkard" recalls some of the best moments on the Groovies' first three albums and first EP and will put their legacy in a different light for Australian fans, whose only brush with that band might be the Cyril Jordan/George Alexander-led line-up that toured here in the 80s (two actual Groovies and three hired hands). For sure, the latter-day Groovies had claims to greatness with their blend of pop purity and Beatles obsessions but they were at their best when they did their own thing. "Shake Some Action" the album and the actual song - is genius, even if subsequent albums were dotted with occasional duff covers. But the Loney era band was arguably more rocking and rootsy, exempting the overly slick "Supersnazz", which predates the superior "Teenage Head" and "Flamingo", and that's what you cop here.
Most of these songs are abject rockers with a few ballads to break up the flow. The majority are solely Loney compositions, with the odd collaboration and obscure cover thrown in. A McCaughey song, "Grapey Wine", is one of the best on offer. "You Don't Owe Me" sounds like a Creedence tune and was penned by John Fogerty, but in a lesser-known '70s band, the (post Golliwogs) Blue Ridge Rangers. The poignant "Five Times a Fool" is Buddy Holly-like with Loney in toned down mode.
Nothing's new but this was a surprise: "Doggone Fine" sounds like a lite take on the New Christs' "Sun God", I kid you not. I doubt Roy's ever heard them, but there you go. Coincidences happen. Another surprise is the dark "Such a Nice Boy" a song about a transvestite ("He was such a nice boy/And now he's a very strange girl"). It also has the slightest whiff of a "Teenage Head" guitar line lurking in the background.
"House of Games", "One Track Mind" and the clever commentary "Nobody Does It" are standout songs that most will need to hear. But wait, there's more. The album's originally intended tracklisting (was this once destined to be vinyl only?) stopped at 13 tunes. This disc brings forth three bonus tracks. "Move It Baby", "Unoriginal Sin" and "Let Me Go". All would have been perplexing omissions. The latter song and "House Of Games" are appropriate bookends, as it happens.
This is unpretentious, rocking and very enjoyable. The Barman
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