The Windbreakers try to stay fresh

Originally hailing from Jackson, Miss., the Windbreakers arrived on the scene in the early 1980s with a punk-tempered, jangly and occasionally moody brand of power-pop. After a decade off the road and out of the studio, guitarists and writers Bobby Sutliff and Tim Lee have assembled a fresh lineup and cut new tracks for a retrospective on Paisley Pop records.

"Sadly," says Sutliff from his home in Ohio, "with the exception of our recent compilation Time Machine (1982-2002), our extensive back catalog is long out of print. But we do seem to draw curious youngsters out to hear us."

Lee is less convinced of the band's potential to attract a younger audience. "Younger fans probably just see us as losers," he says from his base in Knoxville. "I just don't think anybody's going to dig up any early '80s power-pop bands and build a mythical legend around them the way people like us did with Big Star and the Velvet Underground."

While the favorable press the WBs have garnered is not on the scale of that heaped on those cult faves, it's still depressing how few sales it has translated into.

"Critics don't buy records," says Lee.

Sutliff is more succinct about the band's inability to shape a profitable enterprise from all of the critical praise: "[It's] probably because we're not as excellent as R.E.M."

The Windbreakers play Criminal Records and the Echo Lounge Fri., Feb. 27. Free at Criminal. $8 at Echo Lounge.

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