Spotlight: Magic Christian
1am, B.D. Riley's
Former Flamin' Groovies guitarist Cyril Jordan and the rest of San Francisco-based garage-pop supergroup Magic Christian are heading across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito to lay down final vocal tracks for their forthcoming second album, Electron (Wizard's Den). As they drive, the man behind "Teenage Head" and "Shake Some Action" laments the current state of the Bay Area music scene.
"It's like comparing the peak of the Roman Empire and the complete decline," Jordan relates. "The only things left are the roads."
Not that this could sway Magic Christian from its course. The quartet's wistfully charged Brit-rock nuggets are exactly what you'd expect from a band with Jordan, Blondie drummer Clem Burke, and ex-Austinite Eddie Muñoz of the Skunks and Plimsouls on bass. "Turn Up the Heat" combines Mersey-flavored harmonies with an unrelenting Stones backbeat, while "Too Close to Zero" resonates like a 1968 Who outtake.
"I can't get those damn influences out of my writing," Jordan says. "It's like gum on my shoe."
Jordan had pretty much given up band life to focus on painting after the Groovies called it quits in 1991. Nine years later, the Beau Brummels needed a lead guitarist for a reunion at the BayPop festival, organized by future Magic Christian vocalist/harp-blower Paul Kopf.
"One day we're in Paul's car and a Kinks song came on, so we both started singing," Jordan recalls. "He had a great voice, and I said, 'Hey, you should be in a band.' Then Paul decided he wanted to do an album and asked if I would produce it, but I got way more involved than just production."
The initial Magic Christian lineup featured Sneeches bassist Alec Palao and Tubes drummer Prarie Prince. After releasing 2005's strong self-titled debut, Palao and Prince bowed out in late 2006. Burke and Muñoz were already performing together in the reformed Plimsouls and made ideal replacements despite residing 375 miles south in Hollywood.
"It's kind of tough on rehearsals," says Jordan. "Clem was concerned at first that we weren't getting enough rehearsal, but with two days' rehearsal, we got encores. That abyss you're looking down into kind of helps with the performance sometimes."