You remember that slot for kiddies every lunchtime, don’t you? With the biggest spotty dog you ever saw? No? Sod it, I’ll write about an indie band with the same name, then.
1983 saw the Woodentops’ debut, with the redoubtable Rolo McGinty on vocals and guitar and Simon Mawby on guitar. McGinty had started his career in The Innocents and The Jazz Butcher. They signed to the Food label, releasing Plenty in 1984: this made them stablemates with the superb Brilliant and Voice Of The Beehive. An early Peel session from September ’84 produced Well Well Well (FF 1985 #48), which, when released as a single the following year on new label Rough Trade, hit the top of the UK Indie charts and they also took part in the ICA Rock Week in November that year. The sound puts one in mind of the Inspiral Carpets in its interjections of urgent keyboard sounds.
The Woodies would later go on to make music that fitted extremely well into the burgeoning Ibiza scene, and traces can be heard in the throbbing backing and smart, rock steady beat of the highly danceable Move Me (FF 1985 #19).
Like many other acts of the time, they dragged their heels releasing their first album, Giant, in 1986, on which they strived to become ever more experimental, leading to the fascinating failure of Wooden Foot Cops On The Highway, which did rather better Stateside than it did here, and pointed the way to the raw dance that would characterise their later work. The New York Times said of them:
Led by the breathy-voiced songwriter Rolo McGinty, the Woodentops play uptempo pop songs that start as if they’d fallen together on the spot, cued by the strumming of Mr. McGinty’s guitar.But the songs unfold with careful dynamics, building up unexpected momentum and intensity.Like many another bright young British band, the Woodentops have made some canny borrowings from black American music. They have taken the galvanic crescendoes of live gospel performances and transplanted them into pop songs; where a would-be hit usually repeats its key phrase through a chorus, the Woodentops turn that line into an incantation.
Touring continued until 1992, when they took an extended break, returning to live performance two years ago. A thrilling sound from a band that have yet to have their full due and their demerits overlooked.