FLAMIN’ GROOVIES Shake Some Action (AIM)

What were a San Francisco band, contemporaries of the Grateful Dead, doing making an album of carbon-copied British Invasion pop, ten years after the fact, with Dave Edmunds, in Monmouth? “Shake Some Action” teasingly poses far more questions than it answers. The cover art’s like a time capsule gone to earth in the time of the three day week: the band pose against a Jaguar on the front of the cover and in front of some Millwall graffiti on the back, which also carries an advertisement for Piccadilly cigarettes (“Britain’s finest…42p”!).

The opening title track is staggering: like the first two Big Star albums, it’s a jangling Byrds/Beatles/Who/Stones mashup that immediately validates just about everything you may have overheard concerning this legendary album.

If only the remainder of its 14 (naturally, like an early Beatles album) tracks were as good. It rapidly degenerates into emulating prefab 60s pop that takes from the genre without giving anything back. Just as I was thinking how derivative of those early Beatles albums the Groovies had become, they have the gall to throw in a photocopy of an actual early Beatles album track, “Misery”. “Yes It’s True” practically has the DNA of a “Please Please Me” outtake coursing through it. “St. Louis Blues” is like a declawed Dr. Feelgood, “You Tore Me Down” tries to pull off that Byrds/Big Star jangle a second time, moptopped with (you guessed it!) Beatley harmonies, but inevitably pales in the shadow of that astonishing opener, and the harpsichord splashed over “I Saw Her” suggests The Chocolate Watchband in one of their more, er, elaborate moments.

If you can’t get enough Beatley/British Invasion power pop, “Shake Some Action” is probably just the ticket, in a sort of sub-Badfinger fashion. Otherwise, stick with the real thing.