Syracuse’s The Flashcubes, Sportin’ Wood – A Review
I lived for Friday nights. The club scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s was really alive in Syracuse, NY. Really. Upstate NY had some great bands. Buffalo’s The Jumpers were awesome, Albany had Blotto, and we had The Flashcubes.I came in on the tail end of The ‘Cubes, but I had a chance to see Screen Test, the band the ‘Cubes morphed into. They used to play The Firebarn a lot, as I recall. The faithlful went to see the original material, pop songs with hooks galore. We loved every minute of it, even the occasional well chosen cover. Gary Freenay recently mentioned in an interview that the ‘Cubes used to cover The Move’s “Hey Susie”. I probably witnessed this but don’t remember. I guess it didn’t make nearly the impression on me as the Screen Test originals.
In the early 90’s I ran into a “musicologist” named Neal Skok. Neal had stories to tell, having worked with The Green Pajamas, The Heats, and PF Sloan. If you’re not familiar with these three bands, look them up.The Pajamas are the greatest psyche band in the last 30 years, The Heats may be the best powerpop band ever to come out of Seattle (although one can make an argument for Braden Blake & Super Deluxe), and PF Sloan was, well, PF Sloan (he wrote “Eve of Destruction”, “Secret Agent Man”, and many other great songs). Neal introduced me to the work of Roy Wood and The Move. I never thanked him for this. Neal, if you’re out there, I owe you one….BIG TIME.
Fast forward nearly 20 years more.
I was surfing the internet in April only to discover that an old favorite, The Flashcubes, were touring Japan to support a new release. The new record, entitled “Sportin’ Wood”, is a tribute to none other than another old favorite, Roy Wood. With a street date in February of this year, the disc was released on the Japanese Airmail label but is available in the US.
It’s great to hear these songs again. The Flashcubes did an amazing job with this disc, giving some great songs a new feel while remaining completely true to the originals. You know most of these songs, even if you don’t know The Move by name. All the familiar favorites are here including “Brontosaurus” and “I Can Hear the Grass Grow”, “Blackberry Way” and “Curly”. Paul Armstrong does a great job with lead vocals on “Wild Tiger Woman” and Arty Lenin and Gary Frenay exchange the vocal responsibilities on the other songs, honoring Wood with outstanding performances. Tommy Allen doubles as drummer and producer, doing a terrific job in both capacities.
While I can’t post a sample mp3 here, I can show you a youtube video of The Flashcubes performing their version of Roy Wood’s Forever from the new LP. Check it out below.
And after that, check out the original master, Roy Wood and The Move live on the BBC series “Colour Me Pop”, 1969.