Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Flo & Eddie
It’s been a rough work week, so I sneaked into my sister’s bedroom and dug deep in her record collection … and came up with Flo & Eddie, the 1974 album from, uh, Flo and Eddie.
Flo and Eddie were the Phlorescent Leech and Eddie, who were really Mark Volman (Flo) and Howard Kaylan (Eddie), both founding members of the 1960’s group the Turtles. The duo were pretty much the leaders of the group, doing all of the vocals and writing most of the band’s hits (except for the Turtles’ biggest hit, “Happy Together”). Even though the Turtles broke up in 1970, they were still contractually obliged to their old record label so they couldn’t use the Turtles name, or even their own names, in performing music. So Volman, Kaylan and Turtles bassist Jim Pons joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention as the Phlorescent Leech & Eddie. They recorded a few albums with Zappa and appeared his film 200 Motels.
When Zappa was injured in a 1971 stage accident (he was actually attacked by the angry boyfriend of a female fan), the Mothers went on hiatus so Volman/Kaylan and the rest of the band cut The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie (1972) and then, two years later, Flo & Eddie. By this time Flo & Eddie had gained a little credibility on their own, and they were opening for Alice Cooper on his “Billion Dollar Babies” tour. The duo cut this album to help promote that (or the other way around), and it was produced by Bob Ezrin, who was also Alice Cooper’s producer.
The album consisted mainly of Kaylan/Volman originals, including the Turtle-esque “If We Only Had The Time” and some choice covers, including Ray Davies’ “Days” and the Phil Spector/Ronettes classic “The Best Part Of Breaking Up.” Some of the trademark Zappa/Mothers weirdness surfaces in “The Sanzini Brothers,” a circus-themed goof with more funny voices and sound effects than music – in fact the song itself doesn’t kick in until about halfway through the three-minute selection.
“Another Pop Star’s Life” is a slice of rock and roll torn from Alice Cooper’s playbook – it’s a wonder they didn’t give it to Alice to record. The acoustic strum of “Just Another Town” recalls one of Stephen Stills’ more earnest efforts but it’s really a lament about being a rock performer “on the road.” The seven-minute-long “Marmendy Hill,” which closes the album, is apparently a leftover from the Turtles days but it gets an epic treatment here. After a ponderous opening, the song settles into a nice pop groove for a minute or two then the strings and high concept all swirl into an overreaching mess. This would’a been a nice tune, cut down to about three minutes or so. In some way this song presages the sort of thing that would make Meat Loaf famous a few years later.
Flo & Eddie would continue to cut albums through the 1970s and the duo also made a number of backing-vocal appearances on other artist’s records, like T. Rex (“Bang A Gong”), Keith Moon, Steely Dan, Bruce Springsteen (“Hungry Heart”), The Ramones, John Lennon and many more. In the 1980s, they recorded music for children’s shows like the Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake, and began hosting their own radio show on KROQ in L.A. and WXRK in New York. In 1984, Kaylan and Volman legally regained the use of the Turtles name, and began touring as The Turtles Featuring Flo & Eddie. And that Turtles music has been featured on just about every commercial imaginable.