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 Atlantics quickly became an important and authentic part of the emerging punk/new wave movement.
The following spring Ray Boy 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.
In the fall of 1978 the Atlantics were signed to ABC Records, and in December the band recorded their album “Big City Rock” at the Hit Factory in New York. The record was released in March 1979, but a few weeks before the release ABC Records was bought by MCA Records. Their new label, together with Premier Talent, put the Atlantics on a nationwide tour supporting Roxy Music.
On March 25, 1979, the Atlantics played a sold-out show at the Paradise Club in Boston, just prior to leaving on the Roxy Music tour. The concert was recorded by WCOZ-FM for the “Boston Beat” program hosted by Leslie Palmiter. ATLANTICS LIVE presents many of the performances from that evening, without overdubs, and includes many of their most memorable and popular hits. As a bonus track, the CD includes “Be My Baby,” recorded in the fall of 1978 at the Hit Factory in New York.
Review by Carter Alan, WZLX-FM, Boston:
Back in the latter 70’s, when the Boston rock scene had gone ga-ga over punk and new wave power pop, the Atlantics were one of the city’s standard-bearers in the effort to spread the word around the world. This five-piece group fronted by singer Bobby Marron and ably supported on bass and vocals by Bruce Wilkinson and Tom Hauck on rhythm guitar blasted to the top of the local circuit. With sharp and confident leads from Fred Pineau and the steady thump of Ray Fernandes’ drums, the Atlantics long fight to be heard paid off – they signed a major label deal with ABC Records and released their debut studio effort Big City Rock in 1979. After that, the group went on an American tour warming up for Roxy Music and the skies looked bright indeed for this Boston band.
Well, things didn’t quite go as planned, their label went belly up and the Atlantics had to scramble to recover. This they did, playing for several more years and becoming an even better group over time – even if worldwide platinum hopes faded.
This CD has just been released – a concert recorded at the Paradise Theater on March 25th, 1979 just before the group left on its long tour with Roxy Music. Understandably, spirits were high both onstage and in the audience. The show, originally taped by the long-defunct WCOZ-FM has been preserved on reel to reel tape – now it’s available on CD. For anyone who loved this great Boston band – you’ve got to have this disc. As a bonus, there’s also a fine-sounding studio demo included of the Atlantics’ covering the Ronettes 1963 hit “Be My Baby.”
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 "Lonely Hearts," "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)
In early 1979, as Joe Perry was preparing his temporary exit from Aerosmith and the Cars were busy recording Candy-O, the Atlantics were poised to become Boston's newest export. ABC Records had signed the band in the fall of 1978, and debut album Big City Rock was released the following March (albeit under the ownership of MCA Records, who bought out ABC several weeks prior). That same month, the Atlantics left New England for a nationwide tour supporting Roxy Music, but not before playing one last hometown show at Boston's Paradise Club. Originally recorded by WCOZ-FM for the Boston Beat program, the performance is captured in its near-entirety on Live. This is the band's second posthumous release, and it's consciously aimed at those fans who tirelessly supported the Atlantics during their brief tenure as Boston's biggest little band. In the months following this sold-out performance, Big City Rock would fail to chart, the apparent victim of MCA's limited expertise with new wave marketing. Nevertheless, the Atlantics were the hottest ticket on the evening of March 25, 1979, and there's much more than archivist appeal to these analog, overdub-free tracks. Take kick-off song "Teenage Flu," which filters Eddie Cochran's rockabilly through a mesh of proto-punk influences. Frontman Bobby Marron alternately grunts and croons, eventually dissolving into a series of grizzled yelps as the song careens toward a guitar-filled outro. This affinity for early rock & roll surfaces often, particularly in the band's raucously spot-on rendition of Motown staple "Nowhere to Run." Elsewhere, the Atlantics' power pop sensibilities take center stage: Bruce Wilkinson's surprisingly melodic bass on "One Last Night"; the band's liberal use of three-part harmonies; guitarist Fred Pineau's muscular, hook-driven riffs. In one sense, Live is nearly thirty years too late, as it makes a strong case for a band that, at the time, could've used an extra push to enter the mainstream. Still, it's a tuneful tribute to five musicians who deserved much more, and a thrilling listen for those who weren't along for the joyride. ~ Andrew Leahey, All Music Guide