Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Woodentops

  • Giant [Columbia, 1986] B
  • Well Well Well . . . [Upside, 1986] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Giant [Columbia, 1986]
With their "move away from cynicism" and airy touch, these Brits do bear a suspicious resemblance to Howard Jones if not Haircut 100, but at their best they're rootsy and rigorous. At their best, in fact, they ring one more change on the less-is-more magic you always think was exhausted the last time. The analogy is Feelies rather than R.E.M.--the lyrical uplift is a function of rave-up alone, with musical and verbal detail extraneous, as the perky/breathy/hooky/romantic distractions of this shot at the big time demonstrate all too well. "Shout" and "Get It On," even "Love Train" are their mission in life. "If we could always be together/It would be so sublime" is Lionel Richie's. B

Well Well Well . . . [Upside, 1986]
Problem with this budget eight-song early-singles compilation is that at close to thirty-four minutes there isn't quite enough of it. The fast-faster-fastest sequence that leads into the slow, surprising obloquy on side one is excitement itself but doesn't put the anticlimactic Suicide homage across; "Special Friend" shoulda stayed a B side, and "Cold Inside" a dub remix. And given how often youth comes to full bloom these days, this is the Woodentops to buy nevertheless. B+