Taking punk's D.I.Y. ideals and applying them to stripped-down acoustic pop, the Woodentops achieved a great deal of critical success in the short time they were together. Formed in the early '80s in Northhampton, England, the group consisted of Rolo McGinty (vocals, guitar), Frank de Freitas (bass), Simon Mawby (guitar), Benny Staples (drums), and Alice Thompson (keyboards). The band released its debut single, "Plenty," on Food Records; the record led to a contract with Rough Trade. Throughout 1985, the Woodentops released a series of singles, all written by McGinty, that began to attract an audience in the U.K. The group released its acclaimed debut album, Giant, in 1986. The following year, the Woodentops began experimenting with their sound, adding tougher guitars and electronics as McGinty became increasingly interesting in dance music. These changes were particularly evident in their live show, as shown by their 1987 live recording, Hypno Beat Live, recording during the group's American tour. (The tour also introduced new keyboard player Anne Stephenson, formerly of the Communards, who replaced Thompson.) Featuring the contributions of professional studio musicians Bernie Worrell and Doug Wimbish, among others, 1988's Wooden Foot Cops on the Highway continued the group's experimentations with rhythmic and sonic textures.