The Records are best remembered for their cult classic, Starry Eyes, a song that defined British power pop in the 70s.
While they never matched the success of that record, their high-quality output from 1979 to 1982 held up better than most of the era and has also served as a blueprint for the various waves of UK and US power pop since.
Within their genre, they’re seen as giants, yet the general public has missed them for the most part.
The band was formed around 1977 when pub rockers Kursaal Flyers broke up. The drummer from the band, Will Birch, and vocalist/guitarist John Wicks began writing together, inspired by the pure-pop tradition of The Raspberries, Badfinger and Big Star.
By 1978, they had completed the group by adding bassist Phil Brown and guitarist Huw Gower. After a series of live gigs, they released their debut, Starry Eyes.
They received some valuable early exposure on the Stiff label’s ‘Be Stiff’ tour (where they doubled up as Rachel Sweet‘s backing band) which lead to their signing with Virgin Records.
Wicks and Birch continued to churn out should-have-been-hit pop classics over the next three years and three albums; 1979’s Shades in Bed (released in a slightly modified form as The Records in the US), Crashes (1980) and Music on Both Sides (1982).
Huw Gower left the band after Shades In Bed and relocated to New York, where he joined forces with New York Dolls lead singer David Johansen. He was replaced by Jude Cole, a 19-year-old American.
Crashes (1980) was not a hit and did not yield any successful singles, and their record company withdrew their support.
Cole stayed in the US while the core of Birch, Wicks and Brown returned home to England.
The trio expanded into a quintet with guitarist Dave Whelan and lead singer Chris Gent. This lineup recorded the album Music on Both Sides (1982) but, like its predecessor, the album was not a hit.
The band broke up in 1982, though they reformed temporarily in 1990 to contribute a track (Darlin’) to a Brian Wilson tribute album (Smiles, Vibes and Harmony).
John Wicks released a series of singles on the Prizm record label in the early 1980s, including The Way That Love Goes, Prisoner Of Love and Nowhere Left To Run. Birch went on to become a notable music critic and historian.
In 1994 John formed a new incarnation of the band, called John Wicks and The Records, playing shows primarily in the US.
Bassist Phil Brown (pictured above right) passed away on 2 February 2012 after a long illness.
John Wicks passed away on 7 October 2018 in a Burbank (California) hospice following a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was just 65 years old.