Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Records featuring John Wicks – A welcomed return by Rich Rossi

We were all returning to campus, gearing up for another grueling semester, and the kickoff was the Labor Day weekend concert on the Quad featuring Syracuse’s own Flashcubes opening for the headline act, The Records. John Wicks, Will Birch, Phil Brown, and Huw Gower took the stage and my definition of pop music changed entirely.
Thirty years later Wicks is still going strong as evidenced by his latest, actually a reissue of his 2007 release entitled “Rotate”. Having bought and thoroughly enjoyed the original, I gave the reissue a listen and, well, it’s even better if that’s possible.
My music reviews are unorthodox so rather than subject you to my amateur observations I thought I’d site the review Dave Steinfeld did for Blurt. He’s much smarter than I. First, in the event that you’re even older and more memory challenged than I, let’s let Dave walk us down memory lane:
Many people remember only their biggest hit, “Starry Eyes,” but the fact is, these guys turned out three excellent albums (well, two and a half) between 1979 and 1982. Wicks wrote most of the melodies while drummer Will Birch contributed the lion’s share of the lyrics. The result was something like what The Beatles or Kinks might have produced if they had emerged in the aftermath of punk.
So what about the new release? Here’s a short snippet of what Dave has to say about Rotate:
The arrangements on Rotate are crisp and Wicks proves himself an adept lyricist while remaining a top-notch melody man. All in all, this is a welcome return from a musician who is way more talented than his low profile would lead you to believe.
I’ve always thought of the Records’ genius as being a combination of Wicks’ incomparable ability to weave a melody that sticks with Birch’s sense of humor and ability to turn a memorable phrase. The rest was decoration. I’ve come to realize Wicks had the whole package all along. He’s just now getting a chance to show us.
Read Dave Steinfeld’s entire review of Rotate here. Buy the new Rotate with bonus tracks at or at Wicks’ site at

Years ago while attending art school Rich spent many hours listening to XTC, The Records, The Heats, Plimsouls and other powerpop bands of that time. Many children's books, greeting cards and website designs later he finds himself (quite by accident) in the employ of a few powerpop artists. I'm not name dropping but they include, John Wicks, Paul Collins and many more.

Life has come full circle. You can find Rich at if your so inclined.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We were there. Great day on the quad. The 'Cubes put on a heck of a show and proved they should have been the act from Syracuse. Gary and Artie are incredible writers...The same goes true for Screen Test afterwards. Anyhow, a bunch of us from the National Rag were there and thought it was an awesome show. We held the Records in high regard. They put on another great show not long afterwards at a small club in Nedrow. A shame they didn't garner the crowds and attention they deserved. -Ramrod Marconi


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