My Record Collection 109

Flo and Eddie – continuing the theme of artists you have never heard of.  It all started with a band called The Crossfires in the early 60’s.  No hits and they broke up, but out of them came singers and songwriters; Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan who formed a band called The Turtles (see T) who had a string of big hits both in America and here in the late 60’s.  Record company pressure for more and more hits meant the band broke up and never got paid for most of their music.  Volman and Kaylan were the heart of The Turtles, who managed to combine comedy with sublime vocals and great tunes.  Their next move would prove almost suicidal – they joined Frank Zappa in the second incarnation of The Mothers (see Z).  A few tours and the film 200 Motels saw Flo and Eddie, as they called themselves, probably to stop their former record company suing them, now the centrepiece of Zappa’s act.  They appeared on a few albums, and even now though Frank died a few years ago new live concerts keep appearing.  But, as these things do, Frank moved on without them.  They then released a handful of brilliant albums under the moniker Flo and Eddie.  Are you asleep yet?  No?  Okay first one was The Phlourescent Leech and Eddie (1972).  Well, what a great little album.  Not surprising when they had been making quite a few records with The Turtles, but this was self-produced and sounds sparkling.  Every song has something special – from the opening ‘Flo and Eddie Theme’, to the closer ’There you Sit lonely’ it is hard to pick a favourite but the almost lethargic ‘Burn the House Today’ has an edge, although the cod-Hawaian ‘Nicki Nicki Hoi’ is great too.  They sing so exquisitely and the lyrics nearly all have a twist in the tail – a very accomplished debut.   But then what happened…they sort of drifted into being backing singers for among others T. Rex and Alice Cooper.  Before joining Cooper on a world tour they recordsd their second album, which featured more covers and only a few original songs.  Flo and Eddie came out in 1974, and is a more conventional rock album than their debut.  Saying that it is still a pretty wonderful album.  They do a remarkable take on The Small Face (see S) ‘Afterglow’ and The Kinks ‘Days’ but they really excel on their very own ‘Another Pop-Star’s Life’ and my favourite; the autobiographical ‘Marmendy Mill’.  At his point their career could really have gone anywhere…..but, they were still locked into a live comedy routine which they had drifted into with Frank and The Mothers.  In 1975 they released Illegal, Immoroal and Fattening – mostly a live album from their infamous shows, which is pretty amusing as they parody many of the rock stars of the day.  Best though are a couple of new songs ‘Let Me Make Love To You’ and a cover of an Albert Hammond song ‘Rebecca’ – it is almost worth the price of the album for this one track – it is a tour de force.  They returned to a more conventional format with 1976’s Moving Targets.  This is not really successful in my mind, the duo find themselves shouting more often than harmonising; the songs themselves seem to lack that originality of the previous albums; a couple of tracks are good – the title song and ‘Keep It Warm’ but apart from that the album falls flat.  And I think they knew it.  They didn’t make another album for 3 years and then it was almost a cop-out – Rock Steady With Flo and Eddie (1979) still puzzles me; is it a parody or do they really love this laid-back style of Reggae music, or did someone simply suggest it and they didn’t say no.  Who knows?  But it is a nothing sort of album, exactly the same backing and pace all through, the songs barely noticeable.  Oh well.   I do know they were still having great difficulty with legal issues going back to The Turtles days and were fighting to use the name.  They seem to have drifted into session work and composing music for kiddies programmes.  Later they did regain the use of The Turtles name and have toured as Flo and Eddies Turtles, but no new music has transpired.  Howard Kaylan (see K) released one solo album and a few years later their Greatest Hits came out.  Of course I have it  two new tracks which are okay but not brilliant..  Then in 2009 came a new double album of live shows at New York’s Bottom Line.  Poorly produced really and a confusing mix of silly comedy numbers and old hits.  Of course, I bought it.  New York Times – well, on re-listening it is not so bad….though you would have to be a real fan to love it.  Good to re-listen just once in a while.