In 1973, I walked into Newberry’s department store at the Great Lakes Mall east of Cleveland and plopped down two dollars or whatever it was for a cutout bin copy of the third Flamin’ Groovies LP, Teenage Head.
Along with The Sonics compilation, all the Stooges and New York Dolls albums, the Velvet Underground’s 1969 and Live at Max’s Kansas City, and the Rolling Stones Got Live If You Want It – all purchased in the same fashion from Newberry’s — the Groovies record became a central part of the blueprint my brother and I followed in forming the Pagans and helping to invent what became known as punk rock a few years later.
The Groovies played to a packed crowd at the Bootleg Theater in LA Friday night and, loosey goosey as they were, blew the roof off the place.
They played all the hits but there were a few surprises as well, including a killer version of the Byrds’ “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better.” After the first few bars I wondered how lead guitarist Cyril Jordan would be able to pull of Roger McGuinn’s 12-string solo on a six string but, shortly afterward, he answered that question with much authority.
Singer / guitarist Chris Wilson was in fine form, despite a microphone stand from hell that the club should have been embarrassed for providing. Wilson’s commanding presence and booming yet often delicate vocals delivered the perfect counterpoint to Jordan’s scorching guitar lines, a powerful one-two combination made possible by a rock steady rhythm section consisting of original bassist George Alexander and drummer Victor Penalosa.
There was no downside. These guys brought the real deal to L.A., where the real deal is seen but rarely. By the time they got to their classic “Shake Some Action” the crowd was on its feet and, following a four song encore, nobody went home disappointed.
One of the coolest things about being in the business, even in a small way, is that you sometimes get the chance to meet people who literally changed your life. You don’t want to come off like a fanboy but, shaking hands with Cyril, Chris and George the other night, I felt obligated to tell them.
(Mike Hudson is the lead singer of the Pagans)
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