Wow, did these guys knock me out! Their album BEAT MUSIC is amazing. The intricacies and details of the production are fantastic. And that sound! George Martin and Geoff Emerick couldn't have produced and engineered a better album. Yes, it is Beatles influenced, but that's just the start. After all of these years, I find that listening to this album still gets me on my feet!
Hailing from Charlotte, NC, The Spongetones formed in 1978. The following year had the band line-up evolve into what you see today and in the music videos below. Their influence is evident in their homage to The Beatles and Mersey Beat. But there is so much more to this band. As opposed to the litter of Beatles tribute bands and sound-alikes, The Spongetones brought an original flair and high-impact energy to the music they produced. The song writing, musicianship and production is influenced and then enhanced into a new and original intensity. If the album BEAT MUSIC had been released at the end of the 60's it would have been a genuine hit. But instead an early 80's release offered national critical raves and only regional sales.
Within my foggy memory and scattered notes I find that I can't remember how I connected to the band. (I would guess it was via Don Dixon who was working in the same studios in Charlotte at the time.) I do remember playing The Spongetones LP to death. I have also found within my files one receipt after another to record company execs in New York and LA. I sent out copies of my two videos trying to help get some A&R notice from one of the major labels. I discovered that critical success (and my dogmatic zeal for Spongetones music) didn't mean you received a record deal.
The Spongetones are the only RTC band to continue to play to this day. They have now released 12 LPs / CDs as well as been on a great number of compilations CDs. Plus there's the solo CDs! If you're in the Charlotte area, you'll find that they are revered as local Rock Heroes - and rightfully so. And nationally as well as internationally, the critics still love them!
Check out The Songetones' tour schedule and go see them perform live. They always put on a great show. The night after we shot the videos at The Pier, The Spongetones played to a packed house. They asked me if I had a request. HELTER SKELTER would normally be tops on my Beatles list, but I thought I would hit them with one that I knew they couldn't play, I AM THE WALRUS. That night, to my delight, they performed a spot-on version. I still don't know how they did it!
BEAT MUSIC (LP) and the follow-up TORN APART (EP) are compiled together as one CD, RIPPED AND TORN. Find it. Buy it. Listen to it!