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Woolworthy - Recycler

  by Geraint Jones

published: 10 / 10 / 2002



Woolworthy - Recycler
Label: Boss Tuneage
Format: CD

intro

Patchy, overlong, but not entirely without merit retrospective from Chicago punk group, Woolworthy


Not exactly blessed with the coolest name in the world, maybe even veering towards the naff if truth be told, Woolworthy haven’t been the most prolific band either – during their seven years together they’ve managed just two full-length albums and an EP. The appearance of 'Recycler', a 23-track retrospective therefore seems a little premature. It’s also, dare I say it, rather a lot to wade through in one sitting for the uninitiated, who are surely the target audience for such collections. There’s also pitifully little information on the band for newcomers – the booklet whilst nicely assembled with some good photos and adequate recording information is fine but some biographical information on the band would have been a good idea and some lyrics wouldn’t have gone amiss. My guess is that the band’s first two albums are probably now out of print; this new collection giving newcomers the chance to pick up some of their early material. Long-term fans have the incentive of three newly recorded songs, the first of which 'Wallflower', opens the set and provides a good example of the band at their best - well-produced, punchy, dynamic, passionate pop punk. If you have fond memories of The Replacements circa ‘Let It Be’ (as you should!) or hanker after The Goo Goo Dolls just before they became really successful after ‘SuperstarCarWash’, that and more like it should provide a suitably satiating alternative. The album runs in chronologically reverse order, beginning with the three new tracks, continuing with all six tracks from last year’s ‘Blasted Into Ashes’ EP - ‘Vaporised' is a particular highlight from that period - then seven tracks apiece from the band’s two albums to date –‘Sweet Second Place’ (1999) and their self-titled debut (1997). Whilst not necessarily a case of ever diminishing returns - there are undoubtedly strong tracks littered throughout this collection - in my mind it would have made for a leaner and more effective representation of the band at nearer half the length, say twelve to fifteen songs. A more expansive retrospective is something that could have waited until the band had a bit more material behind them. Veering too closely to the likes of Green Day at times for me, at others, the band are capable of capturing the pop-punk smarts of the best the genre has offered like the aforementioned Replacements and Goo Goo Dolls and others like Sugar and Moving Targets. There are just two covers on the set, one of which ‘Starry Eyes’, originally by late 70s British power pop outfit the Records, sadly almost completely forgotten here, provides a hint of where the band could go if they readjusted the energy / melody ratio. Incidentally, ‘Starry Eyes’ was also once covered exceptionally well on a one-off single by a band calling themselves Dr Janet, that included Screaming Trees guitarist Gary Lee Connor and Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan. It’s well worth trying to find. Occasionally glimpses of a more introspective and measured side emerge from the pen of Rudy Gonzalez, Woolworthy’s vocalist/guitarist and songwriter. Songs like ‘And I Will Too’ and ‘Bus Token’ which appears to feature a cello (although the notes don‘t mention this), both provide respite from so much similarly paced and styled material as well as demonstrating a relatively untapped direction for the band that they ought to explore more often. If they consider exploring avenues of their music they currently only flirt with, Woolworthy might have a lot more potential than this retrospective reveals. 'Recyler' is not without merit, but now that they have a more settled line-up - past personnel upheavals having no doubt previously interrupted their momentum - perhaps something more enticing from the band lies ahead.



Track Listing:-
1 Wallflower
2 Achin' To Bleed
3 Picture Day
4 Pretty With Me
5 Love Goes Plaid
6 Vapourized
7 Because She Does
8 Too Bad Too Sad
9 I Wanna Be A Memory
10 Leap Year
11 Starry Eyes
12 Lucky Song
13 Telescope
14 Five Feet Nothing
15 And I Will Too
16 Kiss & Fly
17 Bad Penny
18 Moped Song
19 Deflated
20 That's No Way To Go
21 Woolworthy Stomp
22 Bus Token
23 B.A.G.



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