by Bill Pearis
The Woodentops today...
One of my favorite albums of the '80s is The Woodentops' 1986 full-length debut, Giant. Released by Rough Trade at the heights of Smiths mania, it shares a jaunty acoustic-ness with The Queen is Dead, but The Woodentops were both more manic and rhythmic, musically, and more wistful and nostalgic lyrically. The band were also a part of the then-burgeoning acid house scene, as singles "Well Well Well" and "Why" somewhat bizarrely became staples at Ibiza clubs. After 1988's Wooden Foot Cops on the Highway, the band -- led by Rolo McGinty -- dove deep into dance music, making an album that never ended up seeing the light of day, and the band dissolved not too long after.
Sometime in the mid-00s, McGinty reformed The Woodentops with most of the original members and have been going sporadically ever since. Last year saw the release of retrospective Before During After, that collected everything the band ever released, including 12" mixes and a few tracks off the aborted third album. If you've never heard The Woodentops the collection is worth dipping into -- it's streaming on Spotify.
More excitingly, The Woodentops got back into the studio last year and the result of that is Granular Tales, the band's first new album since 1988. While very much in the Giant mold, the record never falls into the "let's re-write our most popular song" trap, and McGinty and the rest of the band are in top form. They also got their longtime collaborator Panni Bharti to design the album art in her distinctive woodcut style. Granular Tales is out February 24 via Cherry Red and you can stream two songs -- and watch a short making-of documentary -- below.
The Woodentops have a few UK shows lined up. No word on the possibility of US shows -- they haven't played here since Reagan was president -- but we can hope. (They would be a nice fit on a NYC Popfest bill.) All dates are listed, along with new streams and some '80s-era videos, below....
The Woodentops - Move Me
The Woodentops - It Will Come
The Woodentops - Why Why Why
The Woodentops - Well Well Well
The Woodentops - 2014 Tour Dates
March 7 Windsor Firestation London
March 8 229 Great Portland St London
April 5 The cross Birmingham