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Hypno Beat (Live)

The Woodentops

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Album Review

This release catches the group in a live performance at Los Angeles' Palace Theatre in November 1986. Most of the material given here consists of tracks from the album Giant and some early singles. Recording quality is good, though the group's on-stage sound mix is rather opaque, obscuring some of the band's subtle touches; backing vocals, keyboards, and acoustic guitars in particular tend to get swallowed up on this recording at times. Many of the songs are given at an unbelievable breakneck speed, even faster than on corresponding studio releases. On rare occasions, such mania results in garbled lead vocals or finger-tied keyboard playing, but by and large, the sheer visceral sweep of these performances proves to be bracing. Most interesting here is the arrangement of "Everyday Living"; this buoyantly frothy album track from Giant, when performed at a faster tempo and without violin, becomes a surprisingly primitive and driven number. This platter is an intriguing listen, recommended especially to fans of this unusual band. Note that different review sources give slightly different titles to this album; to this reviewer, it appears most correctly to be Hypno Beat Live. [The 2001 CD reissue on Cherry Red adds four studio B-sides from 1985-1988 singles.]

Biography

Formed: 1983 in London, England

Genre: Rock

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

Taking punk's D.I.Y. ideals and applying them to stripped-down acoustic pop, the Woodentops achieved a great deal of critical success in the short time they were together. Formed in the early '80s in Northhampton, England, the group consisted of Rolo McGinty (vocals, guitar), Frank de Freitas (bass), Simon Mawby (guitar), Benny Staples (drums), and Alice Thompson (keyboards). The band released its debut single, "Plenty," on Food Records; the record led to a contract with Rough Trade. Throughout 1985,...
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Hypno Beat (Live), The Woodentops
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