A cool reception to the American Beat

The Fleshtones in Britain, 1981–83


  • Philip Kiszely University of Leeds Author




60s garage punk, anti-Americanism, Fleshtones, post-punk, subcultures


The Fleshtones visited Britain on several occasions between 1981 and 1983, but their presence on the UK’s alternative live touring circuit is now all but forgotten. Although their fans include influential figures such as Peter Buck and the late Joey Ramone, this New York Citybased quartet—IRS Records stable-mates to the Cramps, the Go Gos and R.E.M.—were roundly rejected by British audiences. In fact, the Fleshtones’ performances in the UK often sparked confrontation in one form or another. In its exploration of their experiences on British tours (they appeared with the likes of Gang of Four, Echo & the Bunnymen and a host of other now legendary names), this article seeks to reveal as much about that wider cultural moment in Britain as it does about the attitudes of the band themselves. The article writes them back into the Anglo-American post-punk exchange narrative, and considers how their failure can be read in that context.

Author Biography

  • Philip Kiszely, University of Leeds

    Philip Kiszely is Lecturer in Applied Theatre and Theatre & Performance Degree Programme Manager at the University of Leeds. He is co-editor of the Punk & Post-Punk journal and author of Hollywood Through Private Eyes: The Screen Adaptation of the ‘Hard-Boiled’ Private Detective Novel in the Studio Era (2006). A tireless ‘Madchester’ reveller during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, he is currently researching that scene.


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How to Cite

Kiszely, P. (2013). A cool reception to the American Beat: The Fleshtones in Britain, 1981–83. Popular Music History, 7(1), 82-101. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.v7i1.82