Forty years and twenty albums from their founding, New York’s Fleshtones are still cranking out garage-powered rock ‘n’ roll. Even more impressive than the length of their career is its consistently high quality amid a lack of commercial acclaim. Though the band parlayed its New York City club following into a deal with IRS, soundtrack placements, an American Bandstand appearance (alongside the band War!) and college radio play with 1983’s Hexbreaker!, it never added up to mainstream success. Which makes their perseverance and adherence to a core musical vision all the more admirable.
The band’s seventh album for Yep Roc puts their guitar, bass, drums, organ and harmonica to everything from a cover of the Hondells’ surf ‘n’ drag-themed “The Gasser” to Peter Zaremba’s original blues “The Sinner” and Keith Streng’s gothic soul “Respect Our Love.” Ten Years After’s “Love Like a Man” is taken uptempo with a psychedelic party vibe, and the excess that sparked the late-70s back-to-basics movement is suggested in the title “Rick Wakeman’s Cape.” Rock music may no longer be in the commercial limelight, but it still retains its punch, particularly in the hands of masters like the Fleshtones. [©2016 Hyperbolium]