While much of the Fleshtones' back catalog has been collecting dust for decades in the United States, the rock & roll archivists at Australia's Raven Records have thankfully stepped up and begun reissuing the cream of the band's early output for I.R.S. Records, first with the excellent compilation It's Super Rock Time!: The I.R.S. Years 1980-1985, followed by a two-fer CD featuring the albums Hexbreaker! and Speed Connection: Live in Paris 85 in their entirety. Raven now completes the job with a third CD that features the band's first EP, the five-song Up-Front from 1980, and their first full-length album, 1982's Roman Gods. Giving Roman Gods a CD reissue may seem less than essential for some fans, since ten of its eleven songs appeared on It's Super Rock Time!, but hearing the album in its proper sequence bears out that it's still one of the Fleshtones' very best albums, and the best songs on the set, "I've Gotta Change My Life," "Shadow-Line," "R-I-G-H-T-S," and "Let's See the Sun," show these guys were arguably the smartest and most stylistically eclectic act to emerge from the '80s garage rock revival. The Up-Front EP isn't quite as strong, thanks to an overly clean and tidy production from Paul Wexler, but "The Girl from Baltimore" and "Theme from ‘The Vindicators'" show even a timid recording and mix couldn't hold this band back. And the real icing on this cake is the addition of nine songs from 1985's Speed Connection II: The Final Chapter. The Fleshtones recorded several shows at the Gibus Club in Paris for a live album, but the band was unhappy with the European release of Speed Connection, which was drawn from a show where lead singer Peter Zaremba's voice was giving out. For the American edition, Speed Connection II, the band replaced most of the album with material from a stronger and more energetic show recorded a few days later, and while the Hexbreaker two-fer featured the inferior European version, these nine tunes come from the preferred band-approved disc, and coupled with Roman Gods, this makes for one of the best Fleshtones releases you can buy. If you're only going to own one Fleshtones disc, It's Super Rock Time! has a slight edge over this, but featuring the lion's share of two great albums and a pretty good EP to boot, this release is a must for any serious fan of these unsung heroes of American rock.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming