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Frankie V and the Lonely Club

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Shortly after the band Santana made it big, I met a guy in San Francisco who’d grown up witnessing early versions of the group practicing in open garages on steep San Francisco streets. He painted a picture of a small community nurturing its musical offspring into the headlining bands they later became. Frankie V and the Lonely Club were born from a similar musical hotbed just a few miles away near Oakland where bands like Tower of Power, Greg Kihn, The Sons of Champlin and Eddie Money worked out the kinks. Composed of members who’ve played together for over 20 years, The Lonely Club wound up opening for many of those same bands, with Frankie V writing their original songs. The group’s new album is the self-titled Frankie V and the Lonely Club.

The band calls their sound “a classic rock blend of guitar and organ and powerful lead vocals, laced with a blend of sweet harmonies.

The band wastes no time getting warmed up and roars right into “Bad Information” which has a deep, funky, blues-infused vibe featuring rollicking electric guitar, busy bass and Leon Russell-like organ. The vocals begin like Dr. John or Z.Z. They then morph into sounding like another Bay Area expatriate, Fee Waybill of The Tubes. Frankie V’s rhythm guitar is chunky and propulsive, but when let loose on a solo, you understand what a guy who really loves guitars sounds like.

“Imogene” has a jagged main riff somewhat like “She’s A Woman” by The Beatles. This is medium tempo blues rock with uncredited saxophone and more of Rich Sylvester’s unchained organ frills. The vocals are similar to the first track but feature some nice harmonies. Musically this song’s mostly a single riff repeated over and over with quick choruses to bracket what’s essentially a showcase for the organ.

“Day By Day” feels like a classic rock ballad from the early ‘80s, with the keys this time evoking Styx and the vocals going back to those classic rock bands like Boston or David Lee Roth (in fact, this song could be a distant cousin to Van Halen’s “Jump”). Frankie V takes a short, note-perfect solo. The horns are so good and so key to the band’s sound that I’m surprised they are not credited; they’re as essential to this track as they were to Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street.”

“The Lonely Club” is another medium tempo ballad mostly distinguished by expansive vocal harmonies and a harmony lead guitar solo. I love how the vocalist pronounces the word “of” as in: “It’s what you’re thinking URVE.” Throwing back to the Bay Area influences of Tower of Power or Santana, “Zorro’s Last Ride” is a Latin Rock gem with jumpy percussion and impressive, Spanish-style lead guitar. Not to be outdone, Sylvester takes us along on yet another wild organ solo. “Hang Around” has a swinging beat like “Chuck E’s In Love” and is buffed to a Top-40 sheen. The drums by Mike Lencioni have been good in every song but here I really got a chance to appreciate his tasty fills and solid beats.

“King Of The Ultra Cool” delivers on its song title with shimmery, tremolo effects on the guitars that sound way cool in headphones. The beat is deliberate and mysterious, visually conjuring the King Himself strutting down the street acting Ultra Cool. The vocalist somehow manages to change the very timbre of his voice, making this sound almost like a different band. “No Shadows” concludes the set with a celebratory rock ditty featuring all the benchmarks already mentioned, creating a perfect contrast with the powerful lead vocals and the more gentle backing harmonies. Rich Sylvester takes one final, well-deserved bow on the organ, which is the last sound we hear.

So there it is: a remarkably radio-friendly collection of great songs by a band that wears its past and influences proudly. Check them out!

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