Posts by Dan Sloan

The Flamin’ Groovies formed in San Francisco in 1965 around songwriters Roy Loney and Cyril Jordan. In 1968, they self-released the Sneakers EP, on the strength of which they landed a contract with Epic. They released their debut LP Supersnazz the next year. It sold poorly, which is a shame because it’s great, and even more so because Epic dropped them. They signed to Kama Sutra and followed up Supersnazz with two even better albums, Flamingo and Teenage Head. Still, they never really made it big and in 1971 Loney left to pursue a solo career.

The band hired Chris Wilson to replace him, and moved to London to work with producer Dave Edmunds. In ‘72, when this performance (of a song Loney had helped write) was recorded for French TV, the band was probably getting material ready for their next album, 1976’s incredible Shake Some Action. Now and Jumpin’ in the Night, which came out in ’78 and ’79, are mostly forgettable, but I think everybody ought to hear Sneakers and their first four LPs.

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Doris Norton got her start playing in the Italian prog band Jacula, later called Antonius Rex, with her future husband Antonio Bartoccetti. She began her solo career with Under Ground in 1980.

During the ‘80s, Norton released several albums under sponsorship by high-tech companies—Apple footed the bill for Under Ground, as well as 1984’s Personal Computer, from which “ADA Converter” is taken, among others. During this time she also recorded under the patronage of Roland and IBM.

Starting in ’92 with Techno Shock, Norton worked with her then-teenage son Rexanthony. Rexanthony has since gone on to have a successful recording career of his own, with his parents involved in the production of much of his music.

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Ray Stinnett was born in Memphis in 1944. He got his start in Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, playing guitar on their huge 1965 hit “Wooly Bully.” But by the end of that year Stinnett, along with bassist David Martin, saxophonist Butch Gibson, and drummer Jerry Patterson, quit the band because of a dispute over money with Sam the Sham, who promptly replaced them. In 1966 the former Pharaohs recorded two singles seemingly about Sam, “The Hanging” and “You Sure Have Changed,” under the name The Violations.

After living for a year in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, in 1968 Stinnett returned to Memphis and began working with producer Booker T. Jones on his solo debut. The album was originally to be put out by A&M Records in 1971, but ended up going unreleased. That is, until this month, when Light in the Attic made A Fire Somewhere available for the first time.

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[Light in the Attic]

Today’s track comes from Alexander “Skip” Spence, a Canadian musician closely associated with the psychedelic scene of late 1960s San Francisco. Spence got his start as a guitarist in Quicksilver Messenger Service, though he left the group before they put out any recordings. His first credited release is with Jefferson Airplane, drumming on the group’s 1966 debut, Takes Off.

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Third Ear Band began playing together in London during the fall of 1967. Drummer Glen Sweeney was already known in the free jazz scene there from his work with Dave Tomlin and Roger Bunn in The Giant Sun Trolley, playing a weekly Thursday-night gig at the UFO Club (which, during its year-long existence, helped launch such bands as Soft Machine and Pink Floyd). By the end of that year, the lineup was Sweeney on drums, Richard Coff on violin, Paul Minns on oboe and Mel Davis (who had previously played in People Band) on viola. Those four recorded the debut LP Alchemy, on which this track first appeared, released by EMI-Harvest in 1969. Interestingly, John Peel is credited with playing jaw harp on this recording.

Though the lineup saw a number of changes, with Sweeney the only member to play on every release, the band went on to record into the ’90s, releasing nearly a dozen albums. If you dig it, check out Ghetto Raga, which has a lot more really interesting stuff about the band.

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