Today’s Question: What Are The Five Essential Fleshtones Albums?


Hard though it may be to believe, at last night’s bravura performance by the Fleshtones at D.C.’s Gypsy Sally’s, some friends came who had never seen the band before.  You shake your head in disbelief, we know.  Never seen the only CBGB era band that has toured continuously for close to 40 years… that still puts on the most entertaining performance in all of rock’n’roll… that has almost single-handedly carried the garage rock movement since Jimmy Carter was president.


Yes, they’d never seen the ‘Tones, but loved them, and asked, “What are the five best Fleshtones records?”


So we emailed them this:

“1. Take A Good Look (2008), is probably the closest the ‘Tones have come to a real hit record in the past two decades. A very good collection of modern Fleshtones songs, it was heralded by rock critters as a way for the uninitiated to catch up, which makes sense to me.  Listen to this and you will immediately want to hear more.

2. Roman Gods: their first official album, an attempt by IRS Records to make them radio friendly off the bat, and though it provides something of a false picture, it will give you a sense of why they were so powerfully different from their peers circa 1977-’82. The way you likely can find it is as a 1985 combo with their first IRS EP, which takes great early songs, but does not render them well on vinyl. Which I wrote, disappointed, in NY Rocker in 1980.

3. Beautiful Light,1994, produced by Peter Buck of REM. Just a great album. Maybe a highpoint in terms of reflecting the Fleshtones as a serious band, beyond the entertainment value.  Though Lord knows there is plenty of that.  But people sometimes forget the Fleshtones are a serious and deep band, and Beautiful Light, to me, makes that case.  Also, listen to this record and then go listen to REM’s Monster, which came out a year later.  Yeah, that’s why REM’s sound was so different and better: Buck grafted Keith Streng’s guitar sound onto his band!

4. The Fleshtones Vs. Reality —  This was the first record to truly capture the early Fleshtones sound on vinyl. “Whatever Makes You Happy” may be my favorite Fleshtones song of all time. Really great.

5. The Fleshtones Live At Double Door: 2004, actually captures a version of what you saw last night! Alas, you really need to see them to grok how much fun they are, but this does provide an audio record.”


So we just spent the afternoon with the band and read them our list.  They found it respectable, though when we referenced the live album, they’d never heard of it! Though we bought it on iTunes, it’s a bootleg!  So don’t buy that.

Mulling it over, their consensus fifth choice would be More Than Skin Deep, a really great record that came out in 1998.

So thus would be our list of the records, though of course you should also read SWEAT, the excellent history of “America’s Garage Band,”and don’t forget to watch Pardon Us For Living But The Graveyard Is Full, the excellent documentary about the most fun, hardest working combo in showbiz.

8 Responses to “Today’s Question: What Are The Five Essential Fleshtones Albums?”

  1. Whaaaaaaat! No HEXBREAKER??????? That’s just crazy! It’s 6 essentials! 6!!!!

  2. johnbuckley100 Says:

    Ok, ok, #6!

  3. brendancalling Says:

    I’d add Power Stance to that list.

  4. I am glad you mentioned Take A Good Look as I love that album. Saw them in Brooklyn on Friday and they were great as were Los Straitjackets.

  5. Roman gods, vs reality, more than skin deep, take a good look, the last one and the next one !!! I tricked ! It makes six !!!

  6. Joseph Gulliver Says:

    I saw them at Gypsy Sally ‘ s 11/1/14 in Washington, DC and though I love the band, the performance was not up to old standard.
    I think opening up for the Straight Jackets curtailed their time on stage and it didn’t seem they took it too seriously. Alternatively, the Jackets improved their act by adding a singer Deke Dickerson, who is a great singer/performer.
    I would like to see a 2 hour Fleshtones concert
    with less dancing around on stage, more old tunes, a bit more seriousness and bring back the sax!!! The “wheel of talent” shtick is old and tired, why waste time doing tribute songs to the Beatles and the Ramones? I came to hear songs from the Fleshtones.

    • Joseph Gulliver Says:

      I will say they are very gracious with their time and meeting folks between sets.
      they are very approachable. Great to talk to about their travels. this is what sets them appart and builds fan loyalty.

      • Joseph Gulliver Says:

        Their performances in the 1980’s. Had much more edge to it, no? That is what I hope they recapture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: