The Records featuring John Wicks – Rotate

January 01, 1970




For those who have
forgotten or simply weren’t around back in the day… John Wicks was the main
singer and rhythm guitarist in The Records, a London-based band that was part
of the power pop explosion of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. 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. [Read
The Records story, featuring recent interviews with Wicks and Birch, here at BLURT.


Wicks, who is
currently based in L.A., just re-released his 2007 album Rotate. The new version of the disc adds three songs – including a
brand new version of “Starry Eyes” – and better cover art, while losing a cover
of “We Can Work it Out.” The result is an even better version of Rotate with a total of 14 songs. It’s
not exactly a “new” album; in fact, these tunes were recorded sporadically over
a period of two decades, with various lineups. The oldest song, “Whenever
You’re Near,” goes all the way back to 1990. Interestingly, that ballad is also
the weakest song here, with generic
lyrics and programmed drums that date it. Thankfully, “Whenever You’re Near” is
the exception and not the rule. The rest of Rotate is an exhilarating affair that stands proudly next to The Records’ first
two albums.


Though the genre here
is still power pop, there is some diversity to be found. The lead track, “Oh
Yeah!,” is chiming and exemplary pop. Ditto “The Lost Years,” which may be the
catchiest song about depression ever written. “Come On Round” has a slight
country feel, as does the new track “You Place Your Bets.” The album’s
centerpiece, “Desert Sky,” is lengthy and lovely, while “Edges of a Dream” and
“That Girl is Emily” are driving rockers, the latter a tribute to Syd Barrett.
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.


DOWNLOAD: “That Girl is Emily,” “The Lost Years,” “Starry Eyes” DAVE STEINFELD



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