Friday, October 14, 2016

Song of the Day 'Whiskey Woman' by Flamin' Groovies

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 4:12 PM

OK, so early last year a good friend of mine takes me out to breakfast after which he drops me off at my one-room apartment. As I start to slide down from his truck, he reaches into his console and hands me the Flamin’ Groovies’ Teenage Head record as if he knew I was in need of one of those rare finds that’s been in front of your nose for more than 30 years.

I, like many others, was familiar
 with the title song but little else. I had come by way of the band in the late ’70s, would find them in both F and G sections in the various new and used record stores I’d run in Tucson to New York City and down Minneapolis way, and so on. I was there when they were head shops slash record stores: “Would you like a triple beam to go with that Head East album?”

All them dusty record store covers—gems, between price stickers and the onset of a peculiar mold sensitive to albums everywhere. I found the Groovies’ latter stuff on Sire Records, first with guitarist Cyrill Jordan still on board; Jumpin’ in the Night, Now and Shake Some Action LP, which had Dave Edmonds producing the title track. All good records that staked their claim in porto-punk, and each had at least a couple of covers–usually Stones, Beatles or Byrds, done with respect and instructions from the ’60s. But that was it, case closed. I owned two and left it like that. Nothing would prepare me for the earlier Groovies, singer Roy Loney and Jordan’s jacked-up rock ’n’ roll band. Each song rough, jagged, blessed, with hooks and lyrics that were a big-picture thing. If you were listening, they were talking to you.

As poets will tell it, the Stones’ Sticky Fingers came out on that same Tuesday as the Groovies’ Teenage Headbut it don’t matter. Could have been a month or more either way. The Glimmer Twins left little to chance showing up in Muscle Shoals, “Brown Sugar” to “Moonlight Mile,” all inside Warhol’s zipper. Christ, just bad luck, and this version of the Groovies delivered the goods.

Producer Richard Robinson took the first takes and the band, with producer-legend Jim Dickinson on keys, had attitude, and when the tape was running and the red light was on, it was devil may care.

The song “Whiskey Woman” comes on and 60 seconds into it you run it back and don’t move until it’s over. Three or four chords delivered on a bangy acoustic six-string, mid-tempo, and when the vocal hits with a hint of Sun Records slap back, that first verse is so full of swagger. There was much swagger in the first verse I couldn’t make out what Loney was singing and I tried nine times before I gave up, so here I’ll begin with the second verse: “As I sit and write this song/You’re the one thing on my mind”; a sort of white-boy blues call-and-response. It won’t stop … and every listener has felt this way. Now the tempo is halftime, it stops, stutters and electricity kicks in and hits the mean chords. All the while the vocal screams, “Where are you? Say, where are you?” A gallop now: “Yeah, where are you? “... Come on, come on, it’s you.”

And I play that song and smoke two or three Lucky Strikes and won’t 
let go, can’t, 'cause these are the ones, the very reason we ascribe to rock ’n’ roll. Why this very album found Roy Loney vanished just three weeks after its release. It’s near every bit as good as Sticky Fingersbut man, that was a machine. These were just men, vulnerable and troubled, real rock and rollers, “as I sit and write this song.” (Roy Loney)  

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