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Album Review

Cranked-up, stripped-down garage rock whizzing by across 12 tracks in just over half an hour? Yup, same old Fleshtones; you either know and love them or have decided at this late date to pass on to less snotty acts. Certainly the N.Y.C. rockers are about as likely as their contemporaries the Cramps to change direction over a quarter century into their under-the-radar career. All these songs are band originals; only one of 'em is over three minutes long; and the quartet sounds just as arrogant, rebellious, and fun as it did back in the days when the band regularly played CBGB's and Max's Kansas City. Guitarist Keith Streng and singer, harp player, and occasional organist Peter Zaremba are the only original members, but drummer Bill Milhizer has been along since the band's first album and bassist Ken Fox, who contributes two excellent songs, is the new kid, having joined in 1992. In other words, these guys have been around the block a few times with each other and it shows in the tighter-than-leather-pants playing and general good vibes exuding from this set. Zaremba remains in terrific voice, especially on the closing title track where he trash-talks with the cocky attitude of a young punk. His closing screams/moans are as wild and downright bizarre as Iggy at his most outrageous. The opening minute-and-44-second blast of "First Date (Are You Coming on to Me?)" is as brash and rocking as the Dave Clark Five and the good-time vibe of "Jet-Set Fleshtones," with its calliope piano, sounds like it could have been the band's first single. While the set is short on surprises, it's still pretty amazing that the Fleshtones have delivered an album as rocking, soulful, adrenalized, and crucial as this over 25 years down the road. Maybe it's a second wind or their ability to see life's finish line, but they sound unstoppable and as vital as ever.


Formed: 1976 in Queens, NY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Often tagged as garage rock revivalists, the Fleshtones mix the fuzz guitar and Farfisa organ sounds of that genre with rockabilly, '50s and '60s R&B, and surf into a potent retro stew the group likes to call "super rock." The group formed in 1976 in Queens, New York with vocalist/keyboardist Peter Zaremba, guitarist Keith Streng, bassist Jan Marek Pakulski, and drummer Bill Milhizer and aimed to return rock & roll to the simplicity and unselfconsciousness of the '50s and early '60s. (The group was...
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Take a Good Look, The Fleshtones
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