Singer/guitarist Roy Loney, who was the frontman for the Flamin Groovies during that band’s original rockabilly/R&B-inspired incarnation, continued in a similar vein in his solo career, rock’n’rolling with the devotion of a true believer. After leaving the Groovies in 1975, Loney assembled the Phantom Movers and maintained the rootsy spirit he had brought to the band, emphasizing raw, unpretentious American grit immune to the whims of popular taste.
While the Groovies without Loney turned to Merseybeat, Byrds covers and other ’60s soundalikes, Out After Dark finds him rekindling the pure American rock’n’roll spirit that originally inspired the band. Abetted by two ex-Groovies (drummer Danny Mihm and guitarist James Ferrell), Loney excels at straightforward, unsophisticated party music made strictly for fun.
Phantom Tracks consists of smokin’ live numbers and new studio cuts that aren’t terribly different from the material on Out After Dark. The only change worth noting is that about half of Phantom Tracks is out-and-out rockabilly; Out After Dark, while rooted in that music, is contemporary-sounding rock’n’roll.
Contents Under Pressure, recorded after both Mihm and Ferrell had left (the former to launch the similarly unreconstructed Kingsnakes in Europe), goes off in a number of directions: Yardbirds-type raveups, rockabilly, ska, heavy metal and even corporate mush. A total failure.
As the name implies, Having a Rock’n’Roll Party is a return to what Loney does best, and the results are a big improvement over the previous outing. The band even dips into the Groovies’ catalogue for “Gonna Rock Tonight” and “Dr. Boogie.” Also released in France, Fast & Loose features various lineups (Mihm is back) and includes a version of the Groovies’ “Teenage Head.”
Emerging from a five-year recording hiatus with the energetic but unfocused The Scientific Bombs Away!!!. What stands out in this jolt of pure manic rock’n’roll is the strong material and performances, from the hiccupped neo-rockabilly of “Bad News Travels Fast,” “Bip Bop Boom” and “Boy, Man!” to the modern rock’n’roll of “Ruin Your Shoes,” “Your Best Friend’s Number” and “Nobody.” There’s even c-razy novelty numbers like “Here Comes Curly” and “Nervous Slim,” the latter omitted from the album’s American release. Not for normals, to be sure, these songs will make you laugh while they rock the socks off your feet.
Another half-decade along, Loney made the spirited but sonically ragged live Action Shots!. He better serves his talents on Full Grown Head, which teams him with Young Fresh Fellows Scott McCaughey, Jim Sangster and Tad Hutchinson and Joey Kline of the Squirrels for a lively set of appropriately frantic originals as well as McCaughey’s “Just My Kind,” “Tobacco Road” and the umpteenth version of “Slow Death.” On the evidence of Full Grown Head, this veteran still has what it takes to make vital, timeless rock’n’roll; there are plenty of younger enthusiasts who could stand to take a few hints from his example.