ROCK AND ROLL BACKLASH - The Woggles (Wicked Cool Records)
How do you like your soul? Hot and black and smooth, with plenty of brown sugar? Or something a bit spikier- a handful of diet pills, washed down with gin? On their latest album The Woggles cover both ends of the spectrum with ease, throwing in a generous dose of lead-footed garage band rock for good measure.
Originally hailing from Athens Georgia (the US college town that also gave rise to the B52s and REM), these guys have been through the usual setbacks and line-up changes in their 17 year existence, but seem to have been given a new lease of life thanks to one Little Stevie, aka Steven van Zandt, by way of his Underground Garage satellite radio program, and his record label, Wicked Cool.
The garage rock purists of the world can (and do) whine all they like about Stevie’s motives in championing the genre, but there seems to be no denying that his interest has given these guys a new platform, and certainly renewed energy. And the pay off is clearly captured on their latest recording. In the past the Woggles have been dogged by a perceived failure to capture the spirit and energy of their exuberant live performances in the studio - on the evidence here, that hurdle has now been well and truly overcome.
The title track is frantic from the off, a classically defiant bragging ode to the honest strengths and simple joys of rock, with Manfred Jones’ hoarse vocals right up front. “It’s Not About What I Want (It’s What You Got)” is a leering boy meets girl tale. “El Toro” is a something of a let down- though it’s a note perfect mock-Mexican bit of fluff that wouldn’t sound out of place on a battered thrift store LP, it really doesn’t fit here. “Time Of My Own” is a real gem. Long, lean and sparse, with plenty of space and no clichés, it reminds me of the Eastern Dark at their best, for some reason, which is high praise indeed.
The whole shebang closes neatly with more frantic riffing in “Blasting Cap” which is a fantastic chunk of classic 70s style new wave pop kind of stuff.
This should be more than enough to hold off any backlash against the Woggles. - TJ Honeysuckle
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