Monday, February 04, 2008

Fleshtones - Take a Good Look

I love garage rock. But I hate garage rock revivals, even though I firmly believe that the genre is vibrant enough to be revived every five years or so. With the exception of The White Stripes, every one of the latest crop of revivalists -- The Vines, The Strokes, The Hives -- has let me down. After impressive starts, they flame out into limpid sophomore albums. And they never find their way back.

So thank God for The Fleshtones. They started making garage rock twenty-five years ago, they've never stopped, and they've never, ever sucked. Their latest album, Take a Good Look, is twelve songs long, half an hour short, and chock full of snarling vocals, cheesy Farfisa organ, amateurish guitar work, and perfectly realized little pop moments. The Animals and The Dave Clark Five and The Yardbirds and ? and the Mysterians used to blast this blues-based stuff out in the mid-sixties. There isn't a wasted note. I love it. "Look out for the jet set Fleshtones," they sing. You should.


caparoon said...

Hi Andy,

This comment isn't really intended for publication. I just didn't know how else to contact you, so I found this wormhole and dove in.

I've been meaning to write you for a while now, having first come across your writing in Paste a couple years ago. But, as is so often the sad case, it wasn't until I saw your article in the January (?) issue, and realized you were about to go through/going through a rough patch, that I got off my butt and hunted you up.

On that note, I wanted to say that for what it's worth, some complete stranger is out here feeling for you, and praying for you. I know you're not the first suburbanite dad to wrestle radiation poisoning, but you're at least one that's lent some special moments to my life, so congratulations! You're on the list.

Now. On to other notes.

I love your writing. Thanks for loving and doing what you do. Over the last two or three years, I can't tell you how many times I've come across an article or a review you wrote and walked away--as a musician, writer, and fan--going, "Yes! That was awesome!"

I love that you're an Ohio suburbanite, faking it in the real world. Cheers to you, from a fellow suburbanite faker in Illinois.

I love that you're a Jesus guy. When I started reading you, I didn't know, and I didn't care. (as I think it should be--who wants to read a reviewer because they like Jesus? My mom likes Jesus, but I'm not letting her help me pick out music.) But I'm also a Jesus guy, and I'm pleased to be able to share the body with a guy like you.

Loving and doing what you do. Faking it in the suburbs. And trying to follow Jesus. That's some good stuff, right there. So, thanks for your contributions, both to my life and to the world at large.

If you're ever coming through Champaign, IL (maybe on the way to that Cornerstone gig), feel free to look me up.

Best regards,

John Caparoon

P.S. - And thanks for introducing me to The Fleshtones! "Shadowrock" is a new favorite.

Grant Wentzel said...

Did the Fleshtones get a lot of attention from Little Steven's Underground radio show over the last year or so? If so, they're the guys the my neighbor loves to play -- on vinyl only (purist!) -- and that I've been meaning to check out.

Andy Whitman said...

John, thank you so much for your kind words and your prayers. I really appreciate both.

I'm actually doing much better in terms of my health. When I wrote that essay in Paste I was at my low point, and thinking the worst (primarily because my doctor at the time had given me every reason to think the worst). Since then I've changed doctors, and I'm now a firm believer in second opinions. With the help of several medications I'm doing fine. There's likely some surgery in my future, but for the time being all is well, and all of the doom and gloom rumblings I'd been hearing turned out to be false.

I'm thankful for that, and yes, thankful for the kindness of strangers. God bless you, whoever you are.

Andy Whitman said...

Grant, I know of Little Steven's radio show, but I haven't heard it, so I can't say for sure. But The Fleshtones would certainly fit the format of that show. They're a wonderful band. I'll drop their new album off to you so you can find out for yourself.