Groovy Eyes – High Flyin’ But No Foolin’

High Flyin' But No Foolin'
High Flyin' But No Foolin'

What the hell’s going on in Finland? It seems like every act I hear from there is amazing, regardless of genre – from the instrumental surf of Laika & The Cosmonauts to the angelic harmonies of Varttina; from the smoldering funk-jazz of J.P.’s Organ Trio to a wacky country group called Freud Marx Engels & Jung, who recorded a version of Tammy Wynette’s “D.I.V.O.R.C.E.” (in Finnish, of course”A.V.I.O.E.R.O.”).

And now, the jump-blues and swing of Tampere, Finland’s Groovy Eyes, led by guitarist Jussi “Jo’ Buddy” Raulamo. Playing a ’59 German-made Klira archtop through a ’53 Finnish Salora tube radio, he stakes out a great distorted tone and aggressive attack on the opening “High Fly,” showing a debt to the Charlie Christian/Tiny Grimes school. It’s no surprise that California’s Junior Watson, whom Raulamo also obviously listens to, gives this CD his stamp of approval in the liner notes. After doubling the melody with Jussi, saxophonist Masa Orpana also serves up a big-toned tenor solo.

“Let’s Have Some Fun” finds Jo’ Buddy shouting the lyrics in the proper spirit, on this uptempo jump-blues a la Big Joe Turner, while “Blue Mood” is a relaxed, late-night brushes number. On “Gulf Coast Mambo,” saxophonist Vesa Hyrskykari switches to accordion, and Jussi quotes Guitar Gable’s “Congo Mambo,” and “Foolish Woman” grooves ahead like Little Richard’s “Keep A-Knockin’.”

The personnel and instrumentation shifts for half of the CD’s dozen tracks, and the results are less successful. Here, Jussi’s Klira is patched through a Finnish Cream Sound amp and Fender Vibroverb reissue, for a thinner, biting tone – recalling Gatemouth Brown on “I’ve Seen You Somewhere.” Jouni Joronen’s Hammond organ dominates, and the songs – more ’60s and ’70s funk oriented – just aren’t as interesting. However, Jo’ Buddy closes with a nice ballad, “My Sweetheart,” featuring his best vocal of the set.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s June ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.