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The Woodentops return with their first new studio album in 25 years in the New Year! Fronted by the group's original frontman and principal songwriter Rolo McGinty, the band have recorded Granular Tales over the past few years, very much rooted in the style of their Indie chart-topping debut Giant from 1986. Granular Tales will be released by Cherry Red Records on February 24th, preceded by a single ‘Third Floor Rooftop’ High’ and followed by a short UK tour in March.
Back in 1983, The Woodentops coalesced around McGinty, with a small batch of songs and some cheap instruments, attempting to fuse punk’s DIY ethic with the tightness of electronic music (Suicide, Kraftwerk), a little afrobeat and mutant funk. Initially part of a group of artists and filmmakers in Battersea, the band broke onto London’s club scene in 1984 and made a first single ‘Plenty’ for Food Records (voted by Melody Maker’s guest reviewer Morrissey as ‘single of the week’!).
After touring with Julian Cope and recording a radio session with John Peel, The Woodentops signed to The Smiths’ label Rough Trade. A string of independent hit singles followed in 1985/86, characterised by their strongly rhythmic, percussive qualities and affectionate melodies: ‘Move Me’, ‘Well Well Well’, ‘It Will Come’, ‘Good Thing’ and ‘Everyday Living’ (which also graced the UK pop charts). The band also played tours with The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen and Everything but the Girl. The Woodentops’ debut album Giant all but topped the Indie charts on its release in summer 1986 and also graced the UK Top 40, supported by wide acclaim.
In 1987, Hypnobeat Live – an in-concert album recorded in Los Angeles – reached No. 1 in the Indie charts, capitalising on the band’s live reputation for frantic tempos, rolling beats and intense drama on stage. Most countries were toured but Spain held the key to something new. In large outdoor discos, The Woodentops’ repeated rhythms made Spanish crowds ecstatic. Suitably impressed by this reaction, DJ’s took their music back to Ibiza for the burgeoning Balearic scene. One live track ‘Why Why Why’ became an anthem of high voltage energy, the first indie/crossover record of the 80’s acid house movement. Meanwhile, ‘Stop This Car’ was embraced on America’s West coast, ‘Move Me’ on the East coast, ‘Get It On’ in France.
The Woodentops’ next studio LP, Wooden Foot Cops On The Highway, again topped the Indie charts on its release in spring 1988 (also reaching the UK Top 50), as David Bowie and Prince invited the band to support them. Shows were an explosion of relentless energy and a Glastonbury main stage performance was recorded by the BBC. With a third Woodentops album in the pipeline, Rough Trade closed.
The band took a break, eventually returning three years later with a new single, ‘Tainted World’, a collaboration with Bang The Party, which was championed b influential tastemaker DJ Tony Humphries from Kiss FM, NYC. Another single, 'Conehead', proved popular on the Northern techno scene. But what was intended as a short break became a long one. As ‘Why Why Why’ hit the charts by another band, it felt as if the world would not let the Woodentops end. Meanwhile, drum and bass producers cited The their fury of drums as an influence.
?In 2006, a reunion tour of France and the UK inspired work on a new album. A good few years of life had replenished the lyric bag and ideas had been collected. An unlikely pairing of Richard Thomas (the writer for Attention Scum and The Jerry Springer Opera) with Rolo produced a batch of songs that were thrown into the kitty along with others from Rolo alone. With more dates at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Glastonbury and Summer Sundae and gigs in France and Germany, the band slowly reactivated. In 2013, the enthusiastically received 3CD anthology Before During After consolidated the band’s past recordings.
Now The Woodentops are back with a brand new studio record Granular Tales – their first for quarter of a century! Their onstage energy is still as vibrant as ever – they never fail to blow a roof off – and the band have found themselves recognised by a new generation for their original, ingenious music. 2014 could be another landmark year in their story!
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