FAVOURITE GUITARISTS – CYRIL JORDAN
Learning to play guitar by listening to his favourite British Invasion singles of the
early 60s, Cyril Jordan is a founding member of San Francisco’s legendary Flamin’
A band that seemed to be permanently out of time, their early albums in the 60s
showed them doing covers of 50s rockers by Eddie Cochran and Little Richard.
Their classic 70s albums paid homage to the 60s sounds of the Byrds, Beatles and
Stones. The 80s band was the closest they ever came to straight forward 70s rock
and they clearly didn’t like the sounds of the 80s because they were almost dormant
throughout the 90s.
Cyril Jordan has been a constant presence throughout. Early albums (Sneakers/
Supersnazz) showed off his rock’n’roll chops (and a few nods towards the Lovin’
Spoonful) before the band took on a harder rockin’ sound on “Flamingo” (inspired
by playing shows with the MC5 and the Stooges). They followed this up with their
first classic album with the original band line up (“Teenage Head”) which mixed their
original 50s based sound with the late 60’s blues rock swagger of the Stones.
Check out the following tracks from “Teenage Head”
With the departure of original vocalist Roy Loney, and 2nd
took the band closer to his dream combination of a sound combining the 60s British
Invasion groups (Beatles, Stones, Who) with their US equivalents (Byrds, Paul
Revere & the Raiders).
The band had a short spell at Rockfield studios in the UK with Dave Edmunds as
producer during 1972 which produced the pre-punk classic single “Slow Death”
and led the way for their 1976 re-emergence with their second classic album (“Shake
Some Action”). Gone however were the leather jackets and rock’n’roll flash clothes
of the ‘72 incarnation of the Groovies and in their place came Beatle suits, Cuban
heel boots and a disinclination to play their previous classic tracks (such as “Slow
Death” “Teenage Head”). Adding a collection of Rickenbacker 12 strings to their
signature rock sound of the Dan Armstrong Plexiglass, the band looked and played
fantastic, but was seriously out of step with the emerging punk explosion. Although
their triumphant London show at the Roundhouse on 4 July 1976 had them topping
the bill over The Ramones (their Sire record label mates) and The Stranglers, both
bands would quickly eclipse the Groovies commercially.
“Shake Some Action” with its Jordan inspired descending guitar lines has become
the power pop classic single and the subject of many cover versions.
Jordan carried on with various incarnations of the band until their last official studio
release “Rock Juice” in 1992.
Long dormant and almost forgotten (other than by long term fans), Cyril Jordan
and the Groovies came back into life in 2013 with a line up including Jordan,
Chris Wilson (vocals) and George Alexander (bass) from the classic 1972 line up,
augmented by new member Victor Penalosa on drums.
A series of well received shows in London, Japan, Australia and the States showed
that the Groovies still have the power to rock out as hard as before, and with the
set list containing all the classic Groovies tracks (“Teenage Head”, “Slow Death”
and “Shake Some Action”) maybe the band has at last come to terms with its own
history. New tracks are being recorded in the studio right now – maybe finally this will
be the year of the Flamin Groovies. Can’t wait!
Shake Some Action (Hard Rock Calling 2013):
Guitar most associated with Cyril Jordan
Ampeg Dan Armstrong Plexiglass
(as seen on the cover of “Teenage Head” and a fixture on all Cyril Jordan/Groovies
recordings subsequently. Still played to great effect in 2013)
Recommended albums (Flamin’ Groovies):
I’ll Have A Bucket Of Brains (The Original 1972 Rockfield Sessions for U.A.)
Slow Death (Amazin’ High Energy Rock’n’Roll 1971-3)
Shake Some Action