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The Flywheels; Photo Credit: The Flywheels
The Flywheels’ debut album has been a project that vocalist Kim Wonderley and bassist Eric Scott – both San Francisco Bay area natives – have been putting together for more than 20 years. And here it is, appearing on rock/pop virtuoso Allen Clapp’s Mystery Lawn Mountain label, best known for the fresh-squeezed tartness of Clapp’s own Orange Peels. Clapp helped twiddle knobs here, as did Chris Von Sneidern. Then long-time Young Fresh Fellows guru Scott McCaughey and his R.E.M. pal, guitarist Peter Buck, stuck in their paddles, and things were really stirring. Bring in Dennis Diken and Mike Mesaros, both of The Smithereens, throw in a bit of Roy Loney, and and the mix is really buzzing.
The cruel irony of The Flywheels, however, is that Eric Scott died just over a year ago. The album now rings out as a shining tribute to Wonderley’s fallen pal (and a delight to anyone with a pair of ears).
The easy way to explain the slightly psychedelic pop of The Flywheels would be to re-examine the body of work left by their “big brother” Jimmy Silva, gone more than 20 years now. Once Wonderley and Scott enlisted guitarist John Moremen (currently playing with Matthew Sweet) and percussionist Gabe Coan, this working unit lit up these Flywheel tunes like nobody short of the legendary Beau Brummels, themselves. Ghosts of Brummels vocalist Sal Valentino and composer Ron Elliott seem to appear here in the mind, if not in reality, like something you might encounter in a funhouse mirror.
So, here it is, a new work that breathes in and out with the freshness and verve of all those well-known combos of this storied rock ‘n’ roll area code: the Flamin’ Groovies, Earthquake, Psycotic Pineapple, the Vejtables. If you were a life-time listener to the heroic music played on Big Daddy Tom Donahue’s KSAN back in the heyday of FM rock, then you know what to expect here. Those guys would have gone absolutely ape over The Flywheels. Now it’s your turn.
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