'I keep my baby under glass...'
Roy Loney sounds like nothing quite so much as the keeper of the flame. Founding member of The Flamin' Groovies, a band out of time if ever there was one, his guiding influence can be heard in their fabulous early records Sneakers, Supersnazz, Flamingo and Teenage Head.
'You know, everybody's accused me all throughout my career of being a Rockabilly guy, basically. (laughs) It's my main influence. I guess it's sort of there. Rockabilly and basic Rock'n'Roll... Back then, I was sort of an outsider with my Rockabilly thing. Except for Elvis, nobody listened to that kind of stuff. I was the guy who had the little Carl Perkins 45s and Eddie Cochran 45s, and everyone went, 'Wow! What's that?'
After Teenage Head which Mick Jagger himself lauded as a better record than Sticky Fingers, it seems that Cyril Jordan wrested control of the band and they moved away from The Stones and towards The Beatles. Loney meanwhile left and became an A&M man for ABC Records for a number of years, having a hand in promoting Ramones, Dwight Twilley and Tom Petty records among others.
Towards the end of the seventies he regrouped, put a band together that pretty much was the Flamin' Groovies line up minus Jordan that put out Teenage Head, and began releasing a series of quite remarkable records. Listen to the compilation posted above for evidence. Loney sounds like the missing link between Captain Beefheart, Jonathan Richman and Lux Interior. Suburban deranged and utterly joyous.
Or watch the band at work here. They're not cool. Loney himself is relentlessly geeky and the rest of the group don't help. The hair, the mutton chops. Clothes that don't match. But their sound is cool! Also quite effortless. They've clearly been doing this for a while. The Out of Dark album from the same period, released in 1979 is well worth tracking down. Slightly variable in quality, there's a cover of Return to Sender for example which seems unnecessary except as a statement of intent.
Elsewhere though, it's quite inspired. The band barrel full throttle down the Rock and Roll highway, howling at the universe. With Neat Petite, (posted at the top of this), particularly, they flirt with greatness. 'She's tight...She's loose...obtuse... She's nate patite, she's nate patite, she nate, ba nate ba nate ba patite...she nate ba nate ba nate ba nate ba...she nate ba nate ba nate ba nate ba nate ba...' splutters Loney. Well, why wouldn't you?
It's part I Wanna Be Your Dog, part Waiting For The Man, part Spanish Stroll, part schoolyard gibberish, part genius. Lester Bangs might have dreamed it. For today it's the finest Rock and Roll song I hadn't heard until yesterday. Loney meanwhile, you'll be glad to hear, is still doing the thing he does in 2015 on the verge of seventy...