A sampling of the many reviews and interviews published...
anderbilt Hustler, February 15, 1983
Proceeds and talent are plentiful at WRVU benefit
[ excerpt... ]
Next up: Practical Stylists. Hit of the night. Former Belmont student Scott Sullivant, who sings and plays bass, led a marvelous guitarist named David Russell and drummer Jimmy Hodgkins through a superb set of exciting, guitar-based rock and roll. People say Practical Stylists are heavily influenced by the Jam, but all I want to say is that they are capable, often, of reproducing the youthful energy of the Jam's best work.
Russell's guitar is what struck me the most about the band. He's a fast, intelligent guitarist, capable of staccato, high pitch bursts, runs that make for great hooks, and tasteful but scorching solos. Sullivant and Hodgkins support his instrumental lead with finesse also.
There are only two things Practical Stylists need to work on. First, their compositions are not as consistently compelling as the Jam's; some of the earlier songs in their set were a bit mundane. (Of course, if one is even comparing PS and the Jam, something's obviously worth watching.) Also -- not to be crabby about singers, but --Sullivant's voice is somewhat deficient in both strength and control. Hopefully, both can be achieved in the future.
Practical Stylists are going places. Everybody seems to like them. A VU friend of mine, whom I found slumped in a chair grinning after their set, raved about them (this was the first time he'd seen them), and all the Nashville new music authorities and gadflies I know seem to agree on this group's quality. And that's rare.
by: Pete Wilson
Nashville Tennessean, September 16, 1983
Nashville Supports Practical Stylists
One of Nashville's new rock acts, Practical Stylists, has the second-biggest selling single in town this week; and they're capitalizing on that by having their first big showcase tonight.
The single, General Beat / My Bed, is on Pyramid Records, an independent local label (P. O. Box 23506, Nashville, 37202). That in itself is not unusual. What is striking is the support the single's getting in Music City.
"General Beat is already being played regularly on WKDF" says the act's singer / bass player Scott Sullivant. "91 Rock at Vandy is playing it; so is WKDA." Cat's Records' West End store reports that the record is #2 this week on its singles chart.
All that's the more remarkable because it was only released a week and a half ago. "It's just now being mailed out of town." Sullivant says. 'We're just getting to that."
General Beat has a frenetic, thrashing, energetic quality. The scratchy guitar sound recalls such 1960s ''garage bands" as The Seeds or Count Five. Unlike many new music bands, Practical Stylists use no electronic drums or synthesizer effects.
"Our influences are mainly '60s stuff. I've always been a huge Beatles fan; and I listen to 1960s acts like The Flaming Groovies more than anything. I think the l970s were pretty boring musically."
In performance, the rock trio plays mainly original material. Among the few revivals they do is The Monkees' oldie Last Train To Clarksviile. "We do it our own way, of course," the slight, spikey-haired bassman says. "It's one of the big crowd favorites."
The single's flip side, My Bed has an even more straight- forward, more melodic, more danceable sound than General Beat. "A lot of people say it should have been the A side of the record. But the kids seem to like to dance to General Beat more.
"Kids now are evolving back into that. I see them doing an almost swing-style dancing when we play. I think that's one reason we do well: We have a beat that's easy to dance to," Sullivant says.
The act plays Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, and Atlanta, as well as Nashville. "We attract a weird audience. We played Freshman Orientation at Vandy. Yet we got an article about us in Tennessee Teen once; so now we have 14 and l3-year-oIds trying to sneak into our gigs."
The three Practical Stylists are barely out of their teens themselves. Sullivant and drummer Jim Hodgins turned 21 this year. Lead guitarist and vocalist David Russell is just 19.
"We thought we better start young and keep at it," says Sullivant. By the sound of the single and it quick success, Practical Stylists have a darn good start.
The opening band at Friday night's 9:30 showcase at Cantrells is Basic Static. That group's Tom Littlefield has been co-writing with the headliners.
by: Robert K. Oermann
irmingham News, December 1, 1983
They're Getting Out of a Jam
Nobody's bothered to call them another Monkees, although such a tag might be a little closer to the mark.
Practical Stylists, another one of those young, hyper, good-times-are-made-of-this Nashville pop bands, have that footloose-and-dance-with-me beat that you might hop the 5:15 to Clarksville ~ or Hooterville, for that matter ~ to witness.
And, yes, they do include a cover of the Prefab Four's "Last Train to Clarksville," although it would probably take Mickey Dolenz two round trips to catch this one.
But the stamp the Stylists have had to put up with, live down and finally nail to rest, is that of the Jam, the now departed mod British trio led by Paul Weller, whose latest venture is called the Style Council. (And here we go again.)
Like the Jam, Practical Stylists come three to a package ~ bassist Scott Sullivant, guitarist David Russell and drummer Jim Hodgkins ~ and in the Summer of '82, lacking for songs to complete a stage show, these young dudes incorporated a Jam cover into the set.
"That's when we hit our Jam comparison, when we came out and did a Jam cover," Sullivant said recently, speaking under the aromatic influence of the fresh, lavender paint used to hide the scars of a backroom at the Cavern. "I think if we'd done a Police cover, we'd have had the same problem.
"We're not denying a Jam influence. I like the Jam. I've got several albums, so, of course, there's going to be a bit of an influence.
"But the way it comes out is that we want to be the Jam, that we want to replace the Jam. And that's just not true. We're really nothing like them in that sense."
Rather, Practical Stylists is more at home with tingly, and at times frivolous, '60s~entrenched pop. Garage rock, if you're so inclined.
"Power pop has been one of the only categories that, really, I don't mind," the bespectacled Hodgkins, toying with a beer can tab, responds. "And I think it's halfway fair. Extreme pop would he more like it, or extreme pop-rock or something, 'cause it's rock 'n' roll and that's about it."
So now we have it ~ it's "rock 'n' roll," that vast mainland that encircles everything from Laura Branigan to John Lydon.
"Categories are really unfair," Sullivant reasons. "Most people will say, 'Are you New Wave? Are you punk?'
"Compared to, you know, Foreigner and Quiet Riot, of course we're New Wave. As far as I'm concerned, New Wave is anything that came along after disco."
PRACTICAL STYLISTS came along well after disco's great fall, and have, along with about a half~dozen other promising Nashville bands, steadily matured in the capital of country music, which is a feat all its own.
"It's really weird," Sullivant says. "All these huge record companies are just sitting right in the middle of our front yards, all over Nashville, and if we want to deal with any of them in our particular category, we have to go to New York. "We have garnered virtually no interest from any record company in Nashville at all."
But the Stylists aren't without product. The band released a two~song cassette ("Ralph" / "Swing Your Arms") last year, and followed it up this summer with their first vinyl confession, "General Beat" / "My Bed" (issued by the independent Pyramid Records), which was the second-hottest single for a week at one of Nashville's larger record outlets. (To get a grip on prospective, though, you should know it sold 30 copies that particular week.)
Both the cassette and the record were picked up on the progressive Vanderbilt radio station WRVU-FM (91 Rock), which has just since issued its Local Heroes compilation, featuring Practical Stylists' "She's Got Lots" among the 11 songs. [ "Swing Your Arms Around" was earlier included in a similar hits package put out by Atlanta's WREK-FM. ]
"Probably our biggest jump in popularity was when we ut out that cassette," Hodgkins, a part-time cook and the band's only working member, recalls. "RVU carted it out and played it when none of the other radio stations would touch it and it went Top Five."
Still, not many other radio stations will touch the Stylists. But, never mind, the band slugs on ~ artistically and commercially.
"When we first took the stage, we did it with the intent of really catching people's eyes." Hodgkins says. "We were real fast and loud, just to keep their attention. "But now we're starting to progress in a more melodic direction, with slower tempos and more thought-out songs."
"We've been real fortunate." Sullivant adds. "We've been progressing as far as getting attention and stuff, and people notice us. So far, we haven't backslid any"
by: Bob Carlton