THE ATLANTICS 1976-1983
The Atlantics were formed in January 1976 by guitarist Tom Hauck and bass player Bruce Wilkinson, two students at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. A mutual friend introduced them to drummer Boby Bear and lead guitarist Jeff Lock. To complete the lineup Bruce recruited singer Bobby Marron, a friend from his hometown in New Jersey. The Atlantics played their first show in the spring of 1976 at The Rat in Kenmore Square. In May of 1976 they scored the opening slot for the Ramones, who were playing two nights at The Club in Central Square. The band made their first trips to New York in the summer of 1976, playing at CBGB and Max's Kansas City. The band quickly became an important and authentic part of the emerging punk/new wave movement.
The following spring Ray Fernandes replaced Boby Bear on drums. In the summer of 1977 the band recorded its first independent 45 on Jukebox Records, “When You're Young” by Bruce Wilkinson, backed with “Where Would I Be Without Your Love,” by Jeff Lock. A thousand copies were pressed but never released, and the single is now considered a collector’s item. In the spring of 1978 Jeff Lock left the band and was replaced by Fred Pineau. The Atlantics were signed to ABC Records that summer, and in December the band recorded their album “Big City Rock” at the Hit Factory in New York. The record dropped in March, 1979, but a few weeks before the release ABC Records was sold to MCA Records. Their new label, together with Premier Talent, put the Atlantics on a nationwide tour with Roxy Music, followed by a regional tour throughout New England. The band performed with artists including The Ramones, Cheap Trick, Boston, The Cars, Graham Parker, and many others. The single “One Last Night” by Bruce Wilkinson received regional and international airplay, and the album garnered a glowing review in Rolling Stone.
In the summer of 1979 Paul Caruso joined the group as drummer, and the band came back in 1980 with what was to become one of New England's biggest indy singles, “Lonelyhearts,” written by Tom Hauck. It was the flip side to “Can't Wait Forever,” a Motown-flavored song by Bruce Wilkinson. “Lonelyhearts” rocketed to the top of New England radio and dance charts and stayed for months, and can still be heard on Boston radio stations over twenty-five years later.
During the next two years the Atlantics released several more songs on tape to Boston radio stations, including “Pop Shivers,” “Wrong Number” and “Weekend.” In June 1983 the band played their final show at the Channel in Boston.
Tom Hauck and Bruce Wilkinson formed the alternative/technopop band Ball and Pivot in early 1984. The band peformed thoroughout New England until 1988. Ball and Pivot scored with the regional hits "Down," "Two O'Clock Jump," and "Nowhere to Hide."
The original analog tapes of many of the Atlantics most popular songs were consigned to storage. In 2006 these tapes were recovered and thirteen tracks were digitally restored for the ATLANTICS album. These tracks were recorded between 1979 and 1982 in studios in the Boston area, and have no overdubs or other alterations. Only the sound quality has been enhanced. ATLANTICS contains a full-color 12-page booklet with photos and additional information.
The album is dedicated to the memories of Bruce Wilkinson and Paul Caruso.
REVIEW FROM CMJ MAGAZINE, December 2006:
The Atlantics hit the East Coast rock scene in the late 1970s and helped to fill the void between punk’s demise and new wave’s emergence with punchy blasts of British-influenced power pop. If the blogosphere had existed 25 years ago, this Boston-based five piece would’ve caused more chatter than a barrel of Arctic Monkeys. Their hometown success failed to replicate itself nationally though, and the group quietly disbanded after releasing one album. Perhaps it’s odd that a self-titled collection of B-sides and unreleased tracks should show up decades later, but Atlantics shows how versatile this outfit really was. The post-punk changes of “Believe in Love” are followed by a faithful cover of Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll, Parts I and II.” “Lonelyhearts” charges through four minutes of gutteral vocals and sharp-angled guitar, while “Tired Girl” saunters as deliberately as the Cars’ “Moving in Stereo.” And then there’s the stand-out track, “Back in the World,” whose frenetic riffs and four-part harmonies come danceably close to pop-radio perfection. If this is what Atlantics have in their vault, we should all hope for a reunion. >>>ANDREW LEAHEY
REVIEW FROM THE BOSTON PHOENIX, December 4, 2006:
The song title “Pop Shivers” tells you everything you need to know about the Atlantics: unlike many of the harder-edged, early-’80s Boston bands, these guys lived for the thrill of the hook. Their best-known tune, “Lonelyhearts” (included here), is four minutes of non-stop hookage: its heavy 4/4 beat got it into the dance clubs, but everything about the track is addictive, from the opening “diddy-wahs” to the percussion break and the big unleashing in the chorus. This retrospective CD amounts to the sophomore album the Atlantics would have done if they hadn’t lost their major-label deal after 1979’s long-gone Big City Rock (MCA). The two above-named songs and “Weekend” all got heavy play as radio tapes; the latter embodies the giddy, Cars-like side of the band. Yet the less familiar numbers are almost as good if less obviously commercial. “Perfect Stranger” and “Believe in Love” employ darker twists in the harmonies and guitar lines, suggesting early dB’s and mid-period XTC respectively; “New Identity” could be Mission of Burma in a cheerful mood. “Lonelyhearts” and its original flipside, “Can’t Wait Forever,” are the only tracks to feature that big ’80s drum sound. Everything else sounds shiny and modern — the only bad call was sticking the one cover, Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Parts I and II,” in the middle instead of making it a bonus track. The Atlantics got screwed by not being able to release an album this hit-ready at the time, but the optimism in these tracks still rings out. >>>Brett MIlano.
REVIEW FROM THE NOISE, BOSTON, November 2006:
I am amazed at how accurately this CD revives the zeitgeist of the 1979-82 era; the freeze-dried ambiance of The Cars, the eccentric drum and bass stylings of XTC, and the intrinsically catchy percussive credo of the English Beat. “Wrong Number,” “I Need a Girl,” and “Secret Meeting” may be formulaic new wave; however, “Back in the World” is a nostalgically heart-tugging anthem, and “Lonelyhearts” an indisputably classic period piece. And further proof exists that this long-awaited sophomore release is no mere relic that should have come out in 1983. Listen—there are some amazingly fine songs here; among the still-innovative sounds this band has mustered are the menacing syncopation of “Perfect Strangers,” the eccentric guitar and drum line of “Believe in Love,” and the frantically clambering percussive dynamism of “Weekend,” and “New Identity.” Best of all, we have the angst-laden whim-whams perfectly limned and explicated on their monumental, stupendously catchy radio favorite “Pop Shivers.” >>>Francis DiMenno.
BOSTON GLOBE, January 5, 1981
Rarely will you see a more varied crowd. Old hippies, young execs, spiked- hair punks mingling with blow-dry straights, political radicals and political innocents—all rallying to express hope for handgun control in the wake of John Lennon's death.
"This is what we wanted. We wanted to get all these different kinds of people together," said Tom Hauck of the Atlantics, the Boston band that organized Saturday's benefit, along with a lobbying group known as Citizens for Handgun Control (a newly formed wing of CPPAX - Citizens for Participation in Political Action).
Their new single, "Lonelyhearts," was a crunching rocker with a great hook…
BOSTON GLOBE, December 8, 2000
An Atlantic eulogy: This desk was saddened to learn of the death of bassist Bruce Wilkinson of the Atlantics, who died at age 46 on Oct. 5 in Bradenton, Fla., an apparent suicide. He was the main songwriter for the Atlantics, a popular Boston band that won national recognition in the late '70s and '80s and opened concerts for Roxy Music and Cheap Trick.
Wilkinson, according to the band's guitarist, Fred Pineau, wrote or helped write such Atlantics favorites as "Lonelyhearts," "Pop Shivers," "Big City Rock," and "Weekend." Says Pineau: "Bruce was a prolific songwriter. Virtually every time we'd rehearse, he'd have another song ready."
The band's drummer, Paul Caruso (who is now helping to engineer Aerosmith's next album), also recalls how Bruce was a "full-of-life kind of guy" who had the toughness to continue a show at the Cape Cod Coliseum (where the band was opening for Foreigner) even after someone had beaned him in the head with a Jack Daniel's bottle, requiring 15 stitches.
Wilkinson, who attended Tufts University after growing up in Clifton, N.J., was also in the band Ball and Pivot, which had a late-'80s run. Wilkinson then did some acting on Cape Cod, before moving to Florida, where he acted and taught music. >>>>Steve Morse
THE NOISE: ROCK AROUND BOSTON
CD Reviews—April 2008
Big City Rock [remaster]
10-song CD NOT COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE (sorry..)
Here are ten songs, and nary a wasted one, of what must now seem to some, at the very far remove of nearly thirty years, as music from a fabled realm of yore. Some of these songs now smell like new-wave classics (“When You’re Young”), others now reek of riff-tastic heavy-metal knuckleheadedness (“Television Girl”). Still other songs bring to mind the types of three-chord garage muck of celebrated garage bands writ large the likes of the Troggs, the Pretty Things, and even the Rolling Stones. Exhibits A, B, and C: “I Can’t Help It,” “Teenage Flu,” and “Modern Times Girl.” The melodramatic nature of “One Last Night” and the anthemic brio of the title track might strike some present-day would-be sophisticates as a bit overwrought and goofy; truly, you can’t go home again. But for those who never left, this seminal recording will bring back all sorts of memories. (Francis DiMenno)
THE NOISE: ROCK AROUND BOSTON
CD REVIEWS ⎯ MAY, 2008
Big City Rock [remaster]
ABC RECORDS (Bootleg⎯sorry, not commercially available)
Well, this is certainly interesting: a record that comes with a disclaimer questioning its own legality. An accompanying note cites ABC records as the label, Universal/ MCA as copyright holders (hence no mention above, as it is unsanctioned), that an “anonymous benefactor” sprang for all this, and that it’s not even for sale (promo only. Shit, should I even submit this? Hey, someone sent it in). All that said, it’s fucking wonderful. One of my all-time fave LPs, from 1979, by an all-time fave live act, but which suffered from weak production, now beefed up nicely with a thicker bottom end which the original sorely lacked. These are some of the greatest power-pop tracks ever committed to tape, from here or anywhere. There’s one cover (Martha & the Vandellas’ “Nowhere To Run,” which they handle just finely). Only “Modern Times Girl” doesn’t quite work, with its slower tempos, which just wasn’t their thing. Kinda always struck me as Huey Lewis trying to do the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Fans/ archivists should note that there’s also a recent release of their “lost”/ unreleased/ whatever second LP which never came out, and is equally astounding (and sonically more masterful). If you like this kinda stuff, you’d be a serious dick not to seek it out. (Joe Coughlin)
REVIEW ON bmosworld.net
ATLANTICS – S/T
complete recordings, 1979-1982
Something Hot Communications
Do you remember the 1980s? I do. I remember graduating from High School, hanging out at the bowling alley across from the mall, working in the photocopy room at the local factory. I remember starting college, turning 18 when 18 was the legal drinking age in Massachusetts, blowing off final exams to drink Heineken in the back of a friend's Camaro while listening to Van Halen I. And I remember The Atlantics' "Lonelyhearts" being all over local radio. What a great song. And guess what? It turns out that "Lonelyhearts" isn't even their best song! Almost twenty-five years after the band broke up we finally get a comprehensive CD collection of all their recordings, most of which have never been available anywhere before. In addition to the "Can't Wait Forever"/"Lonelyhearts" 45 they released on their own label, The Atlantics recorded a bunch of other tracks to be submitted to radio stations on tape (!!). But many of these never went anywhere, until now.
This CD is like a time capsule. The Atlantics were the quintessential quirky new wave pop-meisters. At their core, all the songs on this collection are just pure pop, in the best possible sense of the word. But with nervy arrangements and vocals that are every bit as loaded with anxiety and middle-class insecurities as David Byrne could ever have hoped for, The Atlantics achieved a timelessness their Boston contemporaries The Cars fell far short of. The recordings on this CD (with the possible exception of the cover of Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Parts I and II") sound fresh and contemporary, even a quarter century later. This collection is not only an historic artifact of some importance; it's also a damn fine pop record that will provide a perfect backdrop to your next house party. Get it today.
Lyrics to "Lonelyhearts"
Words and music by Thomas Hauck
Published by Olex Music / ASCAP
(Doo ron, doo ron) 4x
I see fear and despair it’s written all over your face, but it’s no disgrace, a life that’s lived alone
You think that against you the entire world has sinned, against the wall you’re pinned, while everyone’s throwing stones
Lonely, lonely, lonelyhearts
there’s nobody like lonely, lonely, lonelyhearts
You know that I can hear your heartbeat
I know something’s going on, I can hear your heartbeat
on and on and on and on
I am so in love with you and you turn away, you’ve got nothing to say, your tongue is tied in knots
Take a crowbar to your heart and pry it loose, just don’t blow a fuse, I know you can’t be bought
(Doo ron Doo ron) (through last verse)
3. same as verse 2.
October 2011: NEWS FLASH
The Atlantics' legendary cover for the original 45 RPM single "Lonelyhearts" b/w "Can't Wait Forever" has been included in a wonderful new book by Matthew Chojnacki – “Put the Needle on the Record” (Schiffer Publishing, 2011). It’s a collection of over 250 single covers by artists ranging from The Ramones to Pat Benatar to Run-D.M.C. The covers are accompanied by comments from the artists; the Atlantics lead guitarist Fred Pineau offers his reflections on the night the cover photos were taken in NYC by Stu Chernoff. The “Lonelyhearts” cover was designed by Tibor Kalman, who had recently started M&Co, which became a leading design firm. When the band first met with Tibor, he had several other ideas for the cover; one of them was to cover the sleeve with sandpaper (the rough side out!). The band and their manager, Fred Munao, thought this was a cool idea but it would not endear the Atlantics to record retailers or radio stations. The cover concept that the band went with – the rows of tiny photos of members of the band – was an instant hit, and luckily the song was too. The actual 45 single from 1980, with the M&Co. sleeve, is a very rare collectors item.