Sunday, February 28, 2010
Just a few quick words and on to Disc Six.
Here are the final twenty-two tracks in my Birth of Power Pop series. Of all the volumes, this one might be my favorite, probably because it is mostly made up of songs that are relatively new to me. Many of which have not been widely available in a really long time. All of these songs are over thirty years old, and I hope people will be listening to them thirty years from now. Judging by the response to this blog, I think at least some of us will be! I hope you've enjoyed the series as much as I've enjoyed making it. Perhaps next February I'll tackle the Eighties!
Birth of Power Pop: The 1970s (Revisited) – Disc Six
Track by Track Commentary:
01. The Now, “What’s Her Name” (1979).
I don’t think The Now’s first (and only) album has ever been released on compact disc. It really is a lost, New Wave, Power Pop classic. They were from the Big Apple.
02. Bread, “Down on My Knees” (1972).
Bread is usually remembered as a bit of second rate Eagles, with a penchant for sappy love songs. What is lost in this revisionist history, is the fact that they really could craft a pop song, and some times flexed their muscles, as they do on this track from arguably their best, if a bit clumsily titled, album: Baby I’m a Want You.
03. Scientists, “Frantic Romantic” (1979).
If someone were to write the history of Australian Rock & Roll, Kim Salmon would probably take up a few chapters all on his own. This is the A-side, of the first single released by the Scientists. It does not foreshadow the noisier stuff the band would become better known for producing. Instead, it looks back to the garage-pop of the great Australian band, the Easybeats.
04. Roy Loney & the Phantom Movers, “Born To Be Your Fool” (1979).
The other half of the original Flamin’ Groovies’ writing team, Roy Loney produced a fine roots rock effort with more than a nod to Power Pop on his first post-Groovies album, Out After Dark.
05. Colin Blunstone, “I Want Some More” (1972).
Colin Blunstone has one of the most recognizable voices in Rock & Roll. Best known as the voice of the Zombies, his first two solo albums are also well worth tracking down.
06. Blue, “Someone” (1973).
I’ve only had the self-titled album by Blue for a little over a month (it was recently reissued by NCORPS.EU), but it is quickly making it’s way into my favorite albums of all time. Fantastic Power Pop from Scotland.
07. The Paley Brothers, “Stick With Me Baby” (1978).
One record is all we got from Boston’s the Paley Brothers, and it is notoriously hard to find on compact disc. Their best-known song, “Come Out and Play”, is a well known classic of the genre, and the one featured here should be.
08. Van Duren, “This Love Inside” (1977).
According to AMG, Van Duren auditioned for Big Star right around the time of that band’s demise, and later played in a band called The Baker Street Regulars in the Memphis area with Jody Stephens and Chris Bell, before producing his first album, Are You Serious? in 1977.
09. Rick Springfield, “On the Other Side” (1974).
RS had quite a career Down Under before he made it big in America. This track is culled from the soundtrack to a Kids’ cartoon called Mission Magic, which featured Springfield. A little bubble gum, but that’s not always a bad thing.
10. The Pop, “Walk in the Rain” (1977).
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think L.A.’s The Pop have ever been given the compact disc treatment—at least not domestically. Another cryin’ shame. I’ve added them to the list.
11. Klaatu, “California Jam” (1976).
How in the world could pop fans have been duped by the insinuation that Klaatu's debut was actually the Beatles? There are certainly some nice Beatle-isms going on here: well-crafted songs, with soaring harmonies (this track in particular), but in a blind taste test, I can’t believe anyone would think it was the Fab Four.
12. The Moondogs, “She’s Nineteen” (1979).
This is the A-side of the debut single from Northern Ireland’s the Moondogs, who were kind of like the Undertones’ modish, younger brothers.
13. Badfinger (Tom Evans), “Believe Me” (1970).
Now this brilliant Tom Evans penned Badfinger track could easily be mistaken as a Beatles' song.
14. The Cowsills, “On My Side” (1971).
The band which inspired the 70s TV show, The Partridge Family. By the 70s, the Cowsills were trying to break free of their bubble gum image, into more of a folk rock, Byrds-like outfit—to great effect.
15. Poptarts, “Jealousy” (1979).
The very last track selected for my BoPP series, as I was looking for some more female artists to showcase. Allow me to explain: I only just recently discovered the Poptarts, thanks to a line in Carl Cafarelli’s essay, “The History of Power Pop”, featured in John Borack’s book, Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide. Here’s the line: “I submit to you that the world’s first avowed all-female power pop group was the Poptarts, a still-unknown quintet that formed in Syracuse, New York in 1978.” I was intrigued. A quick Google search, led me to a website and an email address. A few pleasant email exchanges quickly transpired, and I sent my money order off to Syracuse. What I got back for my measly fifteen bucks, is quite a Power Pop relic. “Jealousy” is just the tip of the proverial iceberg. I urge all of you to contact Gael Sweeney and snatch up your copy before they are all gone!
16. The Flashcubes, “She’s Not the Girl Anymore” (1979).
If I were to rank the greatest Power Pop songs ever recorded, Gary Frenay’s “It’s You Tonight” featured on the original Yellow Pills compilation, would be at or near the top. This song is nearly as good. The Flashcubes were also from Syracuse.
17. Fast Cars, “The Kids Just Wanna Dance” (1979).
Power Pop from Manchester, this song was written using the Fast Cars’ fans as the muse.
18. Excel, “If It Rains” (1979).
The title track from a four-song, self-released EP by these Yorkshire Power Poppers. One more single for Polydor followed in 1980, before the original band broke up.
19. Bram Tchaikovsky, “Sarah Smiles” (1979).
Although I’ve known the fabulous “Girl of My Dreams” for what seems like forever, I hadn’t ever listened to any long players by BT until last summer. A buddy mentioned that he couldn’t believe Strange Man, Changed Man didn’t make Borack’s top 200, nor did it make the fan’s response Shake Some Action Revisited. It is indeed worthy.
20. B-Girls, “‘b’-Side” (1978).
The flip side of the B-Girls debut single for Bomp!, “Fun at the Beach”, and a nice little anthem.
21. Gary Charlson, “Not the Way It Seems” (1978).
Kansas City’s Gary Charlson was part of the amazingly talented stable of artist on Titan Records! Pretty much everything he recorded is worth a listen.
22. Artful Dodger, “Scream” [Single Version] (1976).
From AD’s second, more hard-rock influenced album, Honor Among Thieves. This is a nice little Power Pop ballad, and a fitting end to my BoPP series.
Total Time: 1:05:28
Download it here: The Birth of Power Pop: The 1970s (Revisited) - Disc Six
Find Discs 1, 2 & 3 here: Birth of Power Pop - Discs 1, 2 & 3
Find Disc 4 here: Birth of Power Pop - Disc 4
Find Disc 5 here: Birth of Power Pop - Disc 5
Saturday, February 27, 2010
My last geographical tribute goes to my home state, and it takes the form of a playlist. Since we had a Nashville compilation yesterday, I stayed away from the Music City with one exception (the incomparable Who Hit John of course!). The Shazam also makes another appearance, but they're really from Johnson City. It's dominated by Knoxville bands, most likely because I lived there for about nine years. I know a lot of the people in those bands, and I didn't ask any of them if it was okay to put their songs up (not even the one penned by Mrs. Maximum Jack!). Apologies to anyone who might not think it's cool. Let me know and I'll take it down immediately. Hopefully, those of you who are diehard Power Pop enthusiasts will find a few unknown treats on here. The Taoist Cowboys or Smokin' Dave for instance, who should have been much bigger. Apologies to any band I missed. Enough babbling, and on to the compilation.
Tom Pappas (Flying) of Superdrag and Flesh Vehicle and Don Coffey, Jr of Superdrag and Producer extrodinaire (Drumming) pictured!
Tennessee Power Pop!
01. "Remain Yer Strange" by Superdrag (Sam Powers)
02. "Every Summer" by Smokin' Dave & the Premo Dopes
03. "Amy 88" by the V-Roys
04. "Super Tuesday" by the Shazam
05. "I'll Cry" by Reigning Sound
06. "American Chrome" by Stewart Pack
07. "Motley Who" by The High Score
08. "I've Got a Way" by The Scruffs
09. "Something to Let You Down" by Mic Harrison
10. "In the Street" by Big Star
11. "It's So Hard" by Geisha
12. "Steppin' Out" by The French Broads
13. "Ready to Go" by The Faults
14. "Back With You" by The Taoist Cowboys
15. "Singing in Your Ear" by Flesh Vehicle
16. "California Waiting [EP Version]" by Kings of Leon
17. "I Know a Place" by Jay Reatard
18. "Andrea" by Westside Daredevils
19. "Fan Club" by Who Hit John
20. "Lighting the Way" by Superdrag
Total Time: 58:40
Download it Here: Tennessee Power Pop!
Friday, February 26, 2010
Only two days left in Power Pop Month, it's been a fun ride. All kinds of milestones here at Burn and Shine. So I thought I'd share those with you:
01. I've had my first spammer.
02. Three of my comps have gone Gold (for downloads of 100 or more!).
03. The number of my Followers has more than doubled.
04. I'm pretty sure I've also more than doubled the number of hits I've received since the existence of the blog.
05. I had more blog entries for the month of February then I did for 2007, 2008 and 2009 combined.
Many of you are tuning in today because today's the day #6 in the BoPP series is supposed to come out. I decided the final compilation needed to wait until Sunday, so come on back in two days. I promise it will be posted nice and early-- then I get to take a break until St. Patrick's Day.
But don't fret, I've got a nice little surprise: another out of print Power Pop compilation! This time it's from the spectacular Not Lame Recording Company. I've done a little recon, and I can't find this anywhere in the blogosphere, and it has become quite a collectible among Power Pop fans. In 1998, NL set out to document the very fertile pop scene in Nashville, TN. They called the compilation Nashpop, and it has 18 tracks, with nary a throwaway to be found. From the liner notes by Derek Scott:
The Range of bands represented here reveal the many facets of Nashville's pop community, everything from the airy sophistication of Swan Dive to the charming garage pop of the Luxury Liners; the explosive entergy of Joe Marc's Brother and Who Hit John to the well crafted works by Owsley, Doug Powell and Bill Lloyd. And every week new acts emerge to reinforce the sense that something truly special is going on in Music City . . . And it isn't Country!
Too many highlights to mention them all. One song, Swag's "Everyday is Christmas" has already been featured here at Burn and Shine on Christmas Redux Two. I can't believe I've never used any of the others. Anywho, Here's the track listing and artwork (enjoy!):
Nashpop: A Nashville Pop Compilation (NL - 046)
1. Contact High - Bill Lloyd
2. Suzie Failed the Acid Test - Who Hit John
3. Beautiful Excuse - Swan Dive
4. I Hate That Song - The Shazam
5. Sonny Boy - Owsley
6. Penelope Wilde - Idle Jets
7. She's So Clean - Millard Powers
8. Torn - Doug Powell
9. Paper Star - Neilson Hubbard
10. Feel - Joe, Marc's Brother
11. Anything You Say - Ross Rice
12. If I Cry - The Luxury Liners
13. Spirit of '76 - The Rayon City Quartet
14. Christina - Idle Jets
15. Congratulations - Who Hit John
16. Second Hand Man - John Keaney
17. How Can We Go On? - Bill Lloyd
18. Everyday Is Christmas - Swag
Download it Here: Nashpop
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Again, Thursday is a bit of busy day for me so I'm really gonna take a short cut today and send you over to another blogger's site for a fantastic compilation. But first a few words.
Dom Mariani is like the Peter Case or Alex Chilton of Power Pop Down Under. I did not really discover him until recently. I'd heard the DM3 song "1x 2x Devasted" which was featured on the awesome Pop on Top! The Cream of Australia's Power Pop Crop! disc, but that's about it. Now I realize he was a founding member of the Stems and the Someloves in addition to producing some outstanding solo albums. Anyway, most of you probably already know and love Dom Mariani, but if you haven't checked him out, now's the time and here's the place:
Awesome compilation of Dom Mariani's work from a really fantastic blog, The Un-Heard Music!
I'll leave you with this little nugget by the Someloves:
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Apologies folks, but I've been listening to the Plimsouls for the past 36 hours or so, and I can't get enough 'em. I found some high quality live clips on Youtube, and just had to share. The first, according to the guy who posted it, is from 1979 and might be the first major club appearance by Eddie Muñoz with the band:
The next three must have been some sort of TV/Radio simulcast out in Pasadena. Great stuff, but I can't help feeling a little sad as I watch this. They look poised to become the next big thing-- well, we all know how that turned out.
BTW, I've added the Plimsouls to my running list of artists that need the box set treatment. Did not realize that their first album (conveniently reissued together with their first EP by Rhino in 1992 as The Plimsouls . . . Plus) is no longer available. Travesty.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
A follow up to my post from February 3 - New Plimsouls Record! Check out the artwork for the new LP and download a track from the album there. It should be available from your favorite retailers today. I would suggest heading down to your local, independent record store and picking it up on vinyl!
I've finally had a chance to sit down and listen to this record a few times, and I thought I'd share my thoughts. I don't normally review new records here at Burn and Shine, but I figured I should make an exception for the Plimsouls during Power Pop Month. So here goes.
I'll be the first one to tell you, I don't like live albums. While I own quite a few (I used to hoard bootlegs of my favorite bands), there are maybe a dozen live documents that I'll still listen to on occasion. You can probably guess a few of those-- At Budokan, Live at Leeds, a couple of those Bob Dylan Bootleg Series discs leap to mind.
One you might not guess, is The Plimsouls' first widely released live album, One Night in America. It originally came out in 1988, on a French label called Fan Club. It was one of the first ten CDs I ever bought (I never bought the reissue from a few years back, because I cherish this one so much). At the time, I had never really listened to the Plimsouls. Of course I knew "A Million Miles Away", but that's about it. Those twelve songs recorded "in the midwest of all places" changed my perception of the band. I just figured they were a New Wave one-hit wonder. Wrong. This band had chops and knew their history-- five of the twelve tracks were covers, most notably the Outsiders' "Time Won't Let Me" and a scalding version of the Kinks' "Come On Now". So, as you can imagine, my expectations for this new live Plimsouls LP were through the roof.
Mighty tough for an album to live up to those kind of expectations. Live! Beg, Borrow & Steal delivers. Eighteen tracks and nearly an hour it is the perfect compliment to One Night in America (which was recorded five months earlier). The first song that really leaps out at me is "Inch by Inch" (one of my favorite tracks from 1983's Everywhere at Once) which, I'm assuming, must have been written during the time between the ONiA performance and this one at the Whiskey. While the album version has a shiny, new wave sheen, here it is presented in all of its raw glory. Eddie Muñoz' guitar sounds phenomenal, and Peter Case's vocals are to die for-- what I think a young John Lennon might have sounded like during one of those legendary eight hour sets in Hamburg.
Other originals not featured on the previous live document, are "Every Day Things" "Shaky City", "Lost Time", "I'll Get Lucky", "Zero Hour" and "I Want You Back". To go along with tremendous versions of "Hush Hush", "Now", and "A Million Miles Away". Oh, and let's not forget the covers. There are two Easybeats songs featured, "Women" which would make an appearance on their debut, self-titled long player and a fantastic version of "Sorry". A nod to both their L.A. and Hispanic roots, the Plimsouls' rollicking version of Thee Midnighters' "Jump, Jive and Harmonize" absolutely tears the roof down. There's more, to be sure, but listening to this record nearly thirty years after this show was recorded, one word comes to mind: Timeless.
Monday, February 22, 2010
The People have spoken, or at least 28 of you have. Thanks for voting. It was down to the wire, but in the end it was Scotland by a nose. Of course, I thought all of the possibles were deserving, but there can be only one winner. Hard to argue with this one. Lots to choose from here, I think this is a good representation. I wish I could have found something for the amazing Blue (look out for them on Disc Six!).
Bay City Rollers:
Belle & Sebastian:
Sunday, February 21, 2010
As I write this, there are only a couple hours left in the poll and currently Scotland and Australia are tied for the lead in the poll. You might be the one to cast the deciding vote. Democracy in action. Today, however, we salute North Carolina, by special request. A state that produced much of the soundtrack of my life during the late 80s and early/mid 90s.
Archers of Loaf:
Small (later Small 23):
Saturday, February 20, 2010
So what do we make of Todd Rundgren? I never really paid much attention to him until I reached my thirties. The more I read about music, the more I kept seeing his name come up-- usually as the producer of some album I loved. The list of artists TR has worked with is a veritable Who's Who of Rock: Sparks, Hall & Oates (seriously, the H&O records produced by TR are great, blue-eyed soul), Badfinger, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, XTC, Cheap Trick, Meat Loaf, Grand Funk Railroad, the Psychedelic Furs, Lords of the New Church, Laura Nyro, The Pursuit of Happiness, Bad Religion, and the list goes on. Those are just a few of his production credits, I don't have the time to list all the artists he's worked with in other capacities.
While I will probably never take the time to listen to all of the records he's had a part in making, I have, over the years, pretty much listened to all of his proper albums. I can say, categorically, that he is a fantastic artist. That's not saying he hasn't released a few duds here and there, but his hit-to-miss ratio is pretty darn good. Hermit of Mink Hollow and Something/Anything? are very high up on my list of all-time favorite albums.
But is it Power Pop?
I say no. Now I love "Couldn't I Just Tell You" as much as the next Power Pop nutjob, but check out the way TR introduces the song on this episode of the Mike Douglas Show:
It's very by-the-numbers isn't it? Maybe a little disdain in his voice? Could be because he's not thrilled to be playing to a mostly indifferent studio audience. To his credit, once the song gets going he does seem to enjoy himself and the version is pretty good, even with the keyboard so high in the mix. But if this show is from 1978, this song is six years old at the time of this performance. Why not a song from Hermit of Mink Hollow, which had come out a few months before? I'm not sure, but if I ever get the chance to interview him, I'll ask him. For the time being, I'll just let the way he says "It's called Power Pop" stick in my craw.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Just a reminder, your chance to influence one (or more) of the upcoming posts during Burn and Shine's Power Pop Month is quickly coming to an end. The poll closes tomorrow (I think), so vote for your favorite Power Pop state or country. As I type this, Scotland is narrowly in the lead, and I can't believe California hasn't received a single vote yet. Remember if you vote for "other" let me know who you think deserves an entry. Thanks.
Birth of Power Pop: The 1970s (Revisited) – Disc Five
Track by Track Commentary:
01. Richard Lloyd, “Misty Eyes” (1979).
I picked a Television song on Disc One of the BoPP series, but as you well know, that band isn’t usually grouped in with the Power Pop genre. Alchemy, Richard Lloyd’s first post-Television album, on the other hand is Power Pop through and through.
02. NRBQ, “I Want You Bad” (1978).
Ira Kaplan (of Yo La Tengo) picked this as his favorite American Power Pop song, and it’s hard to argue.
03. The Shirts, “Laugh and Walk Away” (1979).
The Shirts were part of the New York CBGB’s scene, and they even landed a major label deal with Capitol Records. They never managed much more than a small cult following outside of NY, but there are definitely some gems on all three of their records, their first self-titled LP, is a bit of an underrated classic from Punk's first generation, this track is from their glossier second effort, Street Light Shine.
04. Nick Lowe, “Born a Woman” (1977).
From Nick Lowe’s EP, Bowi—the title was a play on David Bowie having recently released an album titled Low—this is a tremendous, and gutsy cover of Sandy Posey’s “Born a Woman” (written by Martha Sharp). Utterly fantastic.
05. The Quick, “No No Girl” [Mercury Demo Version] (1976).
I went back and forth on whether to use the album version of this song on Mondo Decco, or this Mercury demo. In the end, the spoken word part of the LP version, kind of turned me against it. The Quick were from L.A. and straddled the punk/glam/hard rock line of Power Pop.
06. The Searchers,“This Kind of Love Affair” (1979).
Formed in 1957 in Liverpool, as a skiffle group (no I’m not talking about that group), the Searchers had an odd career. Part of the original British Invasion, the band had a half dozen songs reach the Top Forty from 1964-65 in the U.S., and three #1’s in the U.K. Perhaps because they relied on outside writers, they sort of fizzled out in 1965, only to come back as part of the Power Pop class of 1979 on Sire.
07. The Boys [Nebraska], “Hold Me” (1978).
Not to be confused with the British Punk-Pop band featured on Disc Two of the BoPP, these good’ole Boys were from Nebraska and recorded for the now legendary, Titan Records.
08. The Fans, “Give Me That Look In Your Eye” [7” Version] (1979).
Dear gawd, this band from Bristol, England, released two monumental Power Pop singles (check this one out, from 1980!) , got picked up by a major, but internal tensions concerning the direction of the band caused them to split. So sad.
09. Stories, “I’m Coming Home” (1972).
As promised, here is the second track featuring Michael Brown’s brilliant song-writing from the Stories self-titled debut. On their subsequent release, they would have a #1 smash hit, with “Brother Louie”.
10. Racey, “Lay Your Love On Me” (1979).
This was a fairly big hit in the U.K. but did not make a dent in the U.S. charts. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to sing along the first time through. Maybe a little kitschy, but fun nonetheless.
11. Circus, “Feels So Right” (1973).
From the self-tilted (and only) album by Circus, which was locally released in the Cleveland area. This is truly an under-appreciated Power Pop gem of an album in desperate need of wider recognition.
12. Yachts, “Look Back in Love (Not in Anger)” (1978).
Another great band from Liverpool, originally signed to Stiff Records. Yachts also rode Elvis Costello’s coattails over to Radar for a couple of long players well worth hearing.
13. The Cryers, “(It’s Gonna Be) A Heartbreaker” (1978).
The best Power Pop band to come from Meridian, Mississippi? I think so. If you’ve only heard the fantastic track, “Shake it Up (Ain’t it Time)” which was featured on the DiY American Power Pop II compilation, you need to track down this record.
14. Piper, “Telephone Relation” (1976).
This is from Piper’s first, self-titled album, which was produced by Lenny Kaye. It has a harder edge than the track used by Rhino in the DiY compilation, “Can’t Wait”, and more closely resembles the direction Billy Squier would mine to ridiculous, mainstream success in the 80s. Great song.
15. Radio Stars, “Is It Really Necessary” (1977).
Another super group, made up of members of John’s Children, Jet and Sparks, Radio Stars were, of course, grouped in with the first wave of Punk, but as this song demonstrates, they had a firm grasp on the Pop.
16. Jules and the Polar Bears, “Good Reason” (1979).
Jules Shear is a journeyman of sorts in the Pop world. He’s been putting out records since 1976 under several monikers: The Funky Kings, Jules and the Polar Bears, his own name, and Wreckless Sleepers (with the Cars’ Elliot Easton). He continues to put out critically acclaimed records, but his Power Pop apex was definitely this 1979 album, Phonetics.
17. David Werner, “Can’t Imagine” (1979).
I don’t know much about David Werner. His website, mentions that he was 17 when he released his first more glam influenced album, Whizz Kid (1975), which made him 21 when this one came out. By this time he had embraced the New Wave and ended up recording a classic Power Pop album.
18. The Distractions, “Doesn’t Bother Me” (1979).
Manchester’s Distractions, put out one pretty good long player in 1980, Nobody’s Perfect. This is from the EP that preceded it, “You’re Not Going Out Dressed Like That”.
19. The Atlantics, “When You’re Young” (1979).
Another great Power Pop nugget from Boston. The Atlantics only put out one album, Big City Rock (1979), which features this track, and a few regional singles, most notably the incendiary “Lonelyhearts” in 1980.
20. The Headboys, “The Shape of Things To Come” (1979).
The Scottish Power Poppers best known song, it was a minor hit in both the U.K. and the U.S.
21. Milk’n’Cookies, “We Go On Dancing” (1977).
Another second (or third?) tier CBGB’s band. M’n’C are about as sweet as it gets.
22. Badfinger (Joey Molland), Love is Gonna Come at Last” (1979).
The George Harrison of Badfinger, this is probably Joey Molland’s finest moment. From the post-Pete Ham era Badfinger album, Airwaves.
Total Time: 1:05:04
Download it here: The Birth of Power Pop: The 1970a (Revisited) - Disc Five
[EDIT June 6, 2011]Some of you are having problems with the last track on this disc. At some point I will reupload the whole disc, but in the meantime, here it is:
22. Badfinger (Joey Molland), Love is Gonna Come at Last” (1979).
If any of you come across any other corrupt tracks, please let me know so that I can fix 'em, thanks![END OF EDIT]
Quickie post today, as I've got loads to do today and the new comp comes out tomorrow. I thought I'd post the video for the song from which my blog takes its name. One of the truly under-appreciated bands of the late-80's and 90's. "Dream All Day" is one of the greatest songs ever recorded, and yet you can still find Frosting on the Beater for a dime. No really check it out: Used FotB at Amazon!
I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir, but if you haven't heard this band, I urge you to go ahead and spend ten cents. You won't be sorry.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
In conjunction with Power Pop Month, I've been going through John Borack's lists and finding stuff to listen to. I've been picking stuff that I haven't heard in a long time or maybe never really gave a proper chance. A couple of days ago I popped-in Tommy Keene's Songs From the Film. I've liked TK ever since the first time I heard "Places Are Gone" about twenty years ago, but I've never really loved his work. Every so often he puts out a record, and I generally find them pleasant (last year's In the Late Bright made my top 30 for '09).
Listening to SFtF this time, however, it really clicked. Not only is this album one of the great Power Pop records of the 80s, it might be one of the truly great albums of the 20th Century (technically, I think it's a compilation, especially the version I own which has an EP tacked on from the same era). It is still available from many of your favorite download stores (boo!), but it is in desperate need of a physical reissue. I've added TK to my running list of Power Pop artists who deserve the box set treatment (check out one of the gadgets in the top right corner). Much of Keene's back catalog is either long out of print or only available as digital downloads. Many of his early records fetch ridiculous prices on Ebay. Seriously, shouldn't that be the tip-off? Re-release this stuff, ASAP!
I found a slew of live videos from this era of Keene's career. I wish they were numbered in order, I'll just put a couple of them up and if you're interested head on over to Youtube to check out the rest (search "Tommy Keene Live March 1986").
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
By special request, today we celebrate Oklahoma!
He ain't Peter Criss, but he is from Oklahoma-- Garth Brooks (with Kiss):
Technically from Coppell, Texas, but Sins Tailor were part of the Tulsa scene:
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
We are halfway through Power Pop Month here at Burn and Shine. There are still two more volumes left in my Birth of Power Pop Series, and I'm planning at least a couple more video tributes to geographic locations. If you'd like to see your favorite Power Pop State or country celebrated here at the Shine, then drop me a comment.
As a special Valentine's Day bonus I'm giving out a pretty nifty, somewhat obscure compilation that came out on S'more Records back in 1999: Pop Till You Drop. This isn't particularly hard to find, but it is out of print (I couldn't even find a website for S'more Records). Neither could I find PTYD up anywhere currently in the Power Pop blogosphere, so it might be something you haven't heard. When it came out, it was an inexpensive (I'm pretty sure it retailed for less than six bucks) pop sampler distributed by Redeye. From the liner notes:
This compilation began as an answer to a question we Redeye folks were frequently being asked - "Since you guys deal with a ton of these 'Pop' bands breaking the scene, why don't you do a pop comp?" So we decided to do this, and do it in a big way with two full discs of songs from the preeminent bands in the so-called "Pop Renaissance" currently storming the Southeast. Here in the Southland and on this compilation, Pop music has a rather all-encompassing definition from straight-ahead power pop, to the most delicate of hooks and harmonies and songs swirling with soft psychedelia-- this is POP.
Let me just give you some of the highlights. First, the the two tracks that kick off discs one and two are worth the time to download each file alone. The Mayflies USA (or as I like to call them, Teenage Fanclub USA) track, "Make Me Susan" isn't available anywhere else, that I'm aware of, and neither is this early version of Superdrag's "Some Kind of Tragedy" (titled here, "Some Kinda Tragedy"). Speaking of the Drag, there's an early version of Who Hit John's spectacular "Stu" (later recorded by Superdrag, after Sam Powers joined for a spell). If you don't own the Put-Out's Sing the Hits, then you need to remedy that situation immediately, but in the meantime you can sample an early version of "Ultra-Wrong" from that record here. There are other memorable tunes, and some fairly big names (Superchunk, Mitch Easter, Jack Logan, Elf Power) along side some pretty obscure bands (Nine Minute Snooze or Luxurious You anyone?), and at least one more band with ties to Knoxville, the mighty Flesh Vehicle.
1. Make Me Susan - The Mayflies USA
2. B Street Wanderer - Maki
3. Romance - Ho-Hum
4. Fire - Ashley Stove
5. When I Was Broken - The Lures
6. Sudden Crown Drop - Mitch Easter
7. Rock, Scissors, Paper - Gumption
8. Girls With Glasses - Kenny Howes
9. Sinker '99 - The Boy Wonder Jinx (remix)
10. Red Mopar - Gerty
11. Cursed Mirror - Superchunk
12. Coming in the Mouth of America - Cry Baby Cry
13. Steal Your Keys and Crash Your Car - Flesh Vehicle
14. Kamikaze Pilot - The Luxurious You
15. Sweet, Sweet Six-Nine - The Comas
Download it here: S'more Records Presents - Pop Till You Drop (Disc One)
1. Some Kinda Tragedy - Superdrag
2. Simon (The Bird With the Candy Bar Head) - Elf Power
3. Madison Ave. - The Pawn Rooke Four
4. Put the Damn Gun Down - Noah's Red Tattoo
5. Understanding Is Over-Rated - Dynamic Truths
6. Stu - Who Hit John
7. Ultra Wrong - The Put Outs
8. Genius Boy - Jack Logan
9. Lie to You - Lie To You
10. Magic 8 Ball - Gladhands
11. Terza Rima - Cliff Retallick
12. Driller Killer - Doleful Lions
13. Vanity Girl - Clay Merritt Of The Shames
14. Tooth Under Your Pillow - Nine Minute Snooze
15. Always on My Mind - Star Collector
16. Wrong About Winter - Rodeo Boy
Download it here: S'more Records Presents - Pop Till You Drop (Disc Two)
Saturday, February 13, 2010
The new Teenage Fanclub album, Shadows, was supposed to be out in January. The last I heard it was being pushed back to late March or early April. I'm ready for it. As the blogosphere as my witness, if they come within 200 miles of Chattanooga-- I'm going.
Enjoy this live video of "Feel" and "The Concept" with a short interview with Norman Blake sandwiched inbetween to help tide you over until that new record comes out:
Friday, February 12, 2010
The first three volumes of The Birth of Power Pop are now officially the most downloaded compilations in the Burn and Shine library. In just one week, Disc One has been downloaded over 100 times, and Disc Two and Three are not far behind. Thanks, and keep coming back and spreading the word! Here's what some of you have been waiting for:
The Birth of Power Pop: The 1970s (Revisited)- Disc Four
When I originally put together the first three discs, I figured I had pretty much covered the 1970s, as far as Power Pop was concerned. I never meant for it to be a definitive collection. I thought of is as a complimentary compilation for friends who loved the Rhino comps, but maybe hadn’t spent as much time listening to the fringe artists as I had. A couple of things have happened since I put it together that spurred me to tackle the decade again.
First, there was a pretty neat book that came out shortly after I initially handed out my compilation to my friends. Most of you finding Burn and Shine via other music blogs, I’m sure, have at least heard of John Borack’s book, Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide. For those of you who don’t spend hours out of your week combing the Power Pop blogosphere, it is a pretty nifty little resource. I have discovered dozens and dozens of artists (and I am still discovering, actually) due to its pages. I haven’t actually sat down and done the math, but I would guess about fifty percent of the artists featured on the next three volumes are completely new to me (discovered within the last three years). And many of the ones that were familiar to me, I only knew one or two key tracks (again thanks mostly to the Rhino comps).
Second, I discovered that just because an album is out of print or was never released on CD, it doesn’t mean that it’s not available. There are hundreds, no make that thousands of bloggers out there who are taking time out of their day to keep music available—transferring their old LPs, EPs and 7” singles into mp3s and sharing them with anyone who will listen. These guys and gals are doing us quite a service. Today’s generation has almost no need to worry about whether or not an album is in print. That is, as long as he or she doesn’t need a hard copy (I’m kind of old-fashioned that way, but I’ll make do with a music file until I can purchase a hard copy).
Those two together, the Borack book and the wealth of great Power Pop blogs, are why you are getting three more discs in my Birth of Power Pop series. Not sure if I’ll tackle it again, but I’ve got a feeling that there are still plenty of artists from the 70s that I have yet to discover. Stay tuned and as always, Happy Listening!
Track by Track Commentary:
01. Tim Moore, “Rock & Roll Love Letter” (1975).
Written by Tim Moore this song was taken into the top 30 by the Bay City Rollers a year later. It was also recorded by the Records in 1979. While their interpretation is better than the Rollers’, the version included here is definitive.
02. The Liverpool Echo, “You Know It Feels Right” (1973).
Look, I’m not sure if the Flamin’ Groovies knew about the Liverpool Echo, but that whole “let’s party like it’s 1964” thing the Groovies did in 1976, had already been done by this British band three years earlier.
03. Pezband, “When I’m Down” (1977).
Another band that needs the reissue treatment here in the States. I think their records are available as pricey Japanese imports. Not sure why this song, from their first self-titled LP, hasn’t been disseminated a bit more.
04. The Beckies, “Right By My Side” (1976).
Does the name Michael Lookofsky ring a bell? How ‘bout Michael Brown? Some of you are nodding your head right now, awesome. Those who are still unsure, how about the song “Don’t Walk Away Renee"? Well this is the guy who is most responsible for writing it for the Left Banke, and he did it when he was 15! He was also in another band, Stories, that will show up on Disc Five.
05. The Rezillos, “It Gets Me” (1978).
More likely to be grouped in with the first wave of Punks, this band from Edinburgh always had one foot firmly entrenched on the Pop side of the ledger.
06. The Dodgers, “Love on the Rebound” (1978).
This is the title track to the only album released by the Dodgers-- an absolute must have for Badfinger devotees. This band featured Bob Jackson, who was a member of late-era Badfinger.
07. Nick Gilder, “All Across the Nation (The Wheels Are Rolling)” (1977).
When I first heard Nick Gilder, I was probably 10 or 11 years old. You’ll forgive me if I tell you I thought “Hot Child in the City” was a Pat Benatar song. This was from his debut LP, just after his stint in the more Glam-oriented Sweeney-Todd.
08. Jook, “All Right With Me” (1972).
While Rock & Roll historians, would most likely put Jook in with the Glam Rockers of the early 70s, this track has more of a Pete Townshend thing going.
09. Secrets*, “Radio Heart” (ca. 1978).
This was supposed to be the Secrets*’ second single (not sure what the asterisk means, I guess it’s a . . . oh, nevermind) on Titan Records. I’d love to think it would have been a hit, but deep down I know better.
10. The Vipers [Ireland], “I’ve Got You” (1978).
Don’t know much about these guys, except that they were from Dublin, and they put out one (I think) kick-ass single (look for the b-side on my next St. Patrick’s Day Comp!).
11. XTC, “Statue of Liberty” (1978).
XTC is hard to pigeonhole into any one genre. Punk, Post-punk, Eccentric Pop, New Wave, Rock & Roll—call it what you will, but “SoL” is a shining example of Power Pop.
12. Vance or Towers, “Do Whatever We Want” (1975).
Do you remember the band that was playing at the prom in the film Carrie? (I didn’t) Yup, you guessed it, it was VoT! They also wrote a fairly big hit for, Barry Manilow that you may have heard.
13. The Riptides (Australia), “Sunset Strip” (1978).
According to AMG, there are no less than seven artists listed as “The Riptides” (or some variation). This band was originally called the Numbers, then changed their name because another band from Australia was using that name. Confused? Don’t be, just revel in the garage pop of this great record.
14. The Sidewinders [Boston], “Rendezvous” (1972).
Not to be confused with excellent band from Tucson, which later became the Sand Rubies, this was one of the first pure Power Pop bands to emerge from the fertile Boston Scene in the early ‘70s. It featured Andy Paley (later of the Paley Brothers, “Come Out and Play”), and the album was produced by Lenny Kaye. This track, might be the prettiest tune in the Paley oeuvre. It was later rerecorded in more of a Phil Spector fashion by the Paley Brothers, but I like the original version better.
15. The Numbers (Canada), “Sunday Afternoon” (1979).
One listen to this track, and you will be wondering how in the world it wasn’t a massive hit. My best guess? I don’t think it was ever released as a single.
16. The Rutles, “I Must Be In Love” (1978).
Some Power Pop snobs might scoff at the inclusion of the Rutles on a compilation celebrating Power Pop. After all, weren’t they poking fun at the mighty Beatles? Maybe, but it was in a good-natured way, and hell, George Harrison didn’t seem to care as he had a small part in the film.
17. The Names [Chicago], “Baby You’re a Fool” (1977).
Fidelity-wise, this is probably the worst on the compilation. I snagged this from some kind blogger, who obviously did the vinyl transfer from his well loved 45. The Names only released one single. The A-Side, “Why Can’t It Be”, was featured on the Come Out and Play Rhino Compilation. This was the almost as good, B-Side. [P.S. If you have or know of a better rip and wouldn’t mind sharing it, please contact me!!]
18. The Rich Kids, “Young Girls” (1978).
The Rich Kids’ (Glen Matlock’s post Sex Pistols outfit and Midge Ure’s pre-Ultravox band) only long player, Ghost of Princes in Towers, [understatement alert!] could have been better. It does, however, contains two brilliant power pop songs, the wonderful title track, penned by Matlock, and this Midge Ure track celebrating . . . er . . . um, young girls.
19. The Hudson Brothers, “Long, Long Day” (1974).
I’ve said enough about these guys. See my post from February 9, 2010.
20. The Pointed Sticks, “What Do You Want Me To Do?” (1978).
The first single on Quintessence from the first Canadian band to sign to Stiff Records. They re-recorded this track for the Out of Luck EP on Stiff, in a slightly poppier fashion. Both versions are good, but this one gets the nod.
21. Fotomaker, “Two Can Make it Work” (1978).
The first Power Pop Supergroup, comprised of members of the Rascals and the Raspberries. Their sublime “Where Have You Been All My Life” from the same, self-titled album, is a Power Pop classic nonpareil, although this one is pretty good too.
22. Pete Ham, “Makes Me Feel Good” (ca. 1968).
I know, I know, this compilation is supposed to be about the 70s. So why did I include this Pete Ham demo from 1968? Three reasons: 1) Pete Ham is usually associated with the ‘70s. 2) It’s a great song. 3) As Ken Sharp explains in the liner notes to the Ryko compilation, Golders Green: “Written in 1968, this song holds honors as being one of the earliest examples of the power-pop form in development—upbeat, sixties-inspired, melodic pop characterized by awe-inspiring chord changes and an electrifying, visceral punch.”
Total Time: 1:04:16
Download it here: Birth of Power Pop: The 70s - Disc Four
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Hey gang, just a quickie post tonight, and I'm going to post Disc Four in the Birth of Power Pop series first thing tomorrow morning. That way I can leave it up until Saturday night. I found this (fairly short) NPR story about Big Star on Youtube. Unfortunately, it's not a real video, but it is worth a listen, especially if you're new to the Big Star Story:
P.S. Apparently there's a Big Star Documentary on the Horizon!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
In honor of the winter Olympics starting this weekend in the Great White North, let's honor some Power Pop Bands from Canada, shall we? First, how about the B-Girls:
The Pointed Sticks:
The Pursuit of Happiness:
And here's a bonus track: The Posies doing a live version of "Ontario":
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Okay this is sort of a mea culpa post. The other day when I was putting together my list of favorite Power Pop albums from the 70s, I completely forgot this one (I have since added it at the bottom of the numbered list on that particular post):
Totally Out of Control was produced by Bernie Taupin and released by Elton John's Rocket Record Co. It should probably be nestled somewhere in the top 25; even though, I haven't owned it very long. I actually found it at Chad's Records in Chattanooga, while I was originally compiling the first three volumes of the Birth of Power Pop series. I have never taken the plunge into converting my vinyl into a digital format, and at the time it didn't even occur to me that someone else would do this and post it on the internet (silly me!). As far as I know, it has never been released on CD. Again this is criminal. I could be wrong here, but the only CD release that I'm aware of, is the So Your Are a Star: The Best of the Hudson Brothers compilation, which came out in 1995-- also, OOP (and I paid way to much for a copy via Amazon).
If you are my age or a little older, then you probably remember waking up to the Hudson Brothers on Saturday mornings. The video clip above is the intro to that delightful program: The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show. I remember finding the clip on Youtube a few years back, and the memories just came flooding back. I have yet to purchase the DVD box set, but at some point I probably will. As Ken sharp and Doug Sulpy put it in their book Power Pop! Conversation with the Power Pop Elite:
"[The Show] was both the best and worst thing that could have happened to the group. While giving them mass exposure and some degree of popularity, it also pigeonholed them as a poor man's Monkees, appealing primarily to children and other underdeveloped types. Along the way, almost everyone except the group themselves forgot that these guys could really make good music."
And for the most part what they produced in the 70s was good music. Even though AMG only gives Totally Out of Control two stars, I think it is a nearly flawless pop record. Granted, the Hudsons were not breaking any ground here, but it is definitely worth a listen for anyone interested in Beatles-esque pop music. Here are some highlights from their 70s output (apologies for the fan made videos, they're not great):
Monday, February 8, 2010
We're officially entering the second week of Power Pop Month here at Burn and Shine. So far it has been a ton of fun, and a tremendous success. So keep coming back and feel free to leave me comments or send me emails. I'm always looking for recommendations, and unlike some of the other full-time, Power Pop Bloggers: I haven't heard everything. So if you have a favorite Power Pop record-- especially if it was released in the '70s-- let me know about it!
Today I wanted to draw your attention to a fantastic online resource. A few years ago Magnet Magazine put out a tremendous issue devoted to American Power Pop:
If you missed this issue in print form, the good folks at Magnet have put all of the Power Pop related articles from that issue online. So if you want a quick history lesson, head on over there: Shake Some Action: An Intro to Magnet's History of American Power Pop.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Just so you know, my day job is as a tennis teaching professional. I mainly teach kids and there are only so many hours during the week that I can meet with them. Basically this means that weekends are my busiest work days, Sundays in particular. So a quickie post today.
I'm going to give you the email to Rhino Records that takes suggestions on future releases: firstname.lastname@example.org. Seriously, I think that if they start getting a flood of emails demanding a Power Pop Box Set they might comply. Surely they still have the rights on most of that stuff. Hell, most of us would pay big bucks for a really nice Rhino Handmade Box.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Everybody loves lists right? We love reading them, making them, obsessing over them, being shocked and appalled by them-- and most of all, we love to bitch about them. Well I'm putting one out here for you. I can never bring myself to give an artist more than one entry on a list. I'm not sure why that is, but I almost never do. I've stuck to that on this one, otherwise the top twenty would consist of about three or four artists, and those lists are never any fun.
Burn and Shine’s 50 Favorite Power Pop Albums of the 1970s:
01. The Flamin’ Groovies, Shake Some Action (1976)
02. Badfinger, Straight Up (1971)
03. Big Star, #1 Record (1972) [The twofer with Radio City pictured]
04. The Real Kids, The Real Kids (1977)
05. Nick Lowe, Jesus of Cool (1978)
06. Paul Collins’ Beat, The Beat (1979)
07. The Undertones, The Undertones (1979)
08. The Only Ones, The Only Ones (1978)
09. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1976)
10. The Cars, The Cars (1978)
11. The Rasberries, Fresh (1972)
12. Cheap Trick, In Color (1977)
13. The Toms, The Toms (1979)
14. The Scruffs, Want to Meet the Scruffs? (1977)
15. 20/20, 20/20 (1979)
16. Shoes, Present Tense (1979)
17. Dwight Twilley, Twilley Don’t Mind (1977)
18. The Last, L.A. Explosion! (1979)
19. Joe Jackson, Look Sharp! (1979)
20. The Records, Shades in Bed (1979)
21. Emmit Rhodes, Emmit Rhodes (1970)
22. Pezband, Pezband (1977)
23. Blue Ash, No More No Less (1973)
24. Squeeze, Cool For Cats (1979)
25. The Rubinoos, The Rubinoos (1977)
26. Richard Lloyd, Alchemy (1979)
27. The Searchers, The Searchers (1979)
28. Bram Tchaikovsky; Strange Man, Changed Man (1979)
29. Greg Kihn, Greg Kihn (1976)
30. The Beckies, The Beckies (1976)
31. Blue, Blue (1973)
32. Motors, Approved by Moters (1978)
33. The Knack, Get the Knack (1979)
34. Liverpool Echo, Liverpool Echo (1973)
35. Off Broadway, On (1979)
36. Van Duren, Are You Serious? (1977)
37. Fotomaker, Fotomaker (1978)
38. The Cryers, The Cryers (1979)
39. The Atlantics, Big City Rock (1979)
40. David Werner, David Werner (1979)
41. Grin, 1 + 1 (1972)
42. Racey, Smash and Grab (1979)
43. The Tourists, The Tourists (1979)
44. Stories, Stories (1972)
45. Nick Gilder, You Know Who You Are (1977)
46. The Boys, Alternative Chartbusters (1978)
47. Radio Stars, Songs for Swinging Lovers (1977)
48. Artful Dodger, Honor Among Thieves (1976)
49. The Now, The Now (1979)
50. The Pop, The Pop (1977)
And here's are some that didn't quite make the cut in alphabetical:
Circus, Circus (1973)
Cowsills, On My Side (1971)
The Dodgers, Love on the Rebound (1978)
Earth Quake, Levelled (1977)
The Hudson Brothers, Totally Out of Control (1974)
Milk 'n Cookies, Milk 'n Cookies (1977)
Tim Moore, Behind the Eyes (1975)
Numbers, Add Up (1979)
The Paley Brothers, The Paley Brothers (1978)
Piper, Piper (1977)
The Quick, Mondo Deco (1976)
Rumour; Frogs, Sprouts, Clogs & Krauts (1979)
The Shirts, Street Light Shine (1979)
The Sidewinders, The Sidewinders (1972)
Friday, February 5, 2010
So after I posted last night, I started poking around and it seems that all of those compilations I mentioned in my introduction to the Birth of Power Pop series are currently out of print. This is criminal. Why hasn't Rhino finally given this genre the box set treatment it deserves, à la the Nuggets box sets? Judging by the flurry of traffic I generated posting the comps yesterday there is certainly a demand for Power Pop. Currently Disc One has been downloaded 31 times in less than 24 hours. My average is usually in the 15-20 (total, not just the first day) range -- Xmas comps not included.
It occurs to me that there is an entire generation that may have missed these magnificent Rhino Compilations. Using my old friend Captain Crawl, I managed to find all five available thanks to the blogosphere. I have posted the links below:
DiY: Come Out and Play - American Power Pop I (1975-78)
DiY: Teenage Kicks - UK Pop I (1976-79)
DiY: Shake it Up! American Power Pop II (1978-80)
DiY: Starry Eyes - UK Pop II (1978-79)
All four of those are compliments of PVAc to 44.1 kHz.
Poptopia: Power Pop Classics of the '70s
Compliments of Ack Ack Ack
Be sure and thank those bloggers and send Rhino an email demanding a Power Pop Box Set!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
[EDIT February 4, 2011]Hey There unsuspecting visitor! If you are just now discovering this blog via this page, please make sure you visit all of my most recent Power Pop Posts! in addition to all of the initial Birth of Power Pop posts! Have fun digging around in my archives and please leave me a comment or better yet click that "Follow" button down there somewhere below and to the right, thanks![End of EDIT]
In keeping with my 2010 compilation schedule, I'll be posting my playlists every Friday (or Thursday night, really) in February. Today's featured compilation is an oldie, but a goodie. I originally put this together in the Spring of '07 and passed out copies to many of my friends. I actually gave that out in a data disc format, and did not realize until much later, that the track listing on the data disc did not match the track listing that I had meticulously sequenced. I've given this out on several occasions since as one giant zip file, but this was before I knew how to zip music files properly so that the listener would get my files in the right order. So finally, I have broken this up into three separate zip files, and they are in the order that I intended. Whew. Above is the artwork that I made for the original hard copies and below is a slightly edited version of the original liner notes.
The Birth of Power Pop: 1970s
“Power pop for me was [music made by] musicians that were born in the 50s, grew up in the 60s and started playing music in the 70s. [Our] idea of music was melodic songs and cool clothes.”-- Paul Collins (of the Nerves, Breakaways and Paul Collins’ Beat)
While power pop had its roots in the 60s with bands like the Beatles, Byrds, and Beach Boys, it really came into its own during the “Me Decade.” Indeed, this is power pop’s golden age. There are a lot of great songs to choose from, so narrowing it down to 60 songs is a pretty daunting task (I mean you could make a case for the inclusion of every single song on #1 Record). I did not want to just reproduce any of the myriad of power pop compilations out there, although some overlap is inevitable and I did cherry pick some obscure comps. In particular, the folks at Rhino Records have put out five outstanding compact discs that cover much the same ground as my new collection. Those discs are the four volumes in the DIY series (American Power Pop I & II, UK Pop I & II) and Poptopia! Power Pop Classics of the ‘70s. You probably already have those, and if not you should seek them out. While I have used many of the same artists, I have not used any of the same songs as those genre-defining compilations (with one exception). Some of the songs on this compilation will be quite familiar to you, but hopefully there will be a few that are totally new to you, or, at the very least, some that you may have forgotten. I’ve sequenced the songs in an order that made sense to me sonically as opposed to a strict chronological order. Which reminds me, some of these songs have been remastered recently, others have not, so stay close to the volume dial!
Track by track Commentary:
Birth of Power Pop - Disc One
01. The Records, “Teenarama” (1979).
I find it hard to believe that a band with a name as great as “The Records” and a propensity for writing insanely catchy pop songs didn’t make a bigger splash commercially. And yet . . .
02. Grin, “White Lies” (1972).
Nils Lofgren is probably best known for his exploits in the E-Street Band or for his work with Neil Young, but he also served as the leader of this underappreciated pop band in the early 70s.
03. Kirsty MacColl, “They Don’t Know” (1979).
One of two songs on this compilation that was later a hit for another artist. Kirsty wrote it, and it was her first single for Stiff Records.
04. Elvis Costello, “No Action” (1978).
This song kicks off Costello’s second long player. He once quipped, “You have your whole life to write your first album and six months to write the second.” I think it turned out all right for him.
05. Off Broadway, “New Little Girl” (1979).
Hailing from Oak Park, Illinois, Off Broadway was sort of Cheap Trick’s not quite as talented little brother. Still, Cliff Johnson wrote quite a few memorable songs, most of which can be found on their 1979 debut, On.
06. The Toms, “Let’s Be Friends Again” (1979).
The Toms is actually New Jersey’s Tom Marolda—he plays pretty much everything on his home recordings.
07. The Raspberries, “I Wanna Be With You” (1972).
One of the biggest “hits” on this compilation (made it to #16 on Billboard’s singles chart). I have become increasingly convinced that the Raspberries were America’s answer to the Beatles.
08. Greg Kihn, “Any Other Woman” (1976).
Greg Kihn eventually became the most famous of a very talented stable of artists on the Berserkley record label. This is from his self-titled debut, which was about five years before he became a household name.
09. Luxury, “Green Hearts” (1979).
It begins with jangly guitars and handclaps. It has a melody that gets stuck in your head the first time you hear it. You’ll be singing along with the chorus the second time through. These guys were, believe it or not, from Iowa.
10. The Knack, “That’s What the Little Girls Do” (1979).
Power pop connoisseurs generally either revere the Knack as power pop gods or disdain them as corporate hacks taking advantage of popular trends. I’m sort of on the fence. I never really loved “My Sharona,” but I do think there are some genuine pop gems on Get the Knack—especially this one.
11. Television, “Careful” (1978).
My favorite song from Television’s more polished, second LP, and it also has one of my favorite guitar solos of all time. It starts at about the 2:20 mark with some faint handclaps and ends 22 glorious (not pretentious) seconds later. Stunning.
12. The Last, “She Don’t Know Why I’m Here” (1979).
Released on Bomp! Records in 1979, L.A. Explosion! does not get the credit it deserves. Anyone who swears by Chris Wilson-era Flamin’ Groovies (and I certainly do!), should give this a spin.
13. The Only Ones, “No Solution” (1979).
Peter Perrett should have enjoyed the kind of career that say, Paul Weller or Nick Lowe had. Unfortunately, he had some serious drug problems, which kept him from making music for much of the 80s. Subsequently, he’s been relegated to footnote status.
14. Squeeze, “Slightly Drunk” (1979).
Shaking off any pretension of being a punk rock band, Squeeze embraced the pop on their second, and arguably best, record (Cool For Cats).
15. Dwight Twilley Band, “Chance to Get Away” (1977).
This is from my favorite Dwight Twilley album, Twilley Don’t Mind. Phil Seymour hadn’t left the band yet, and their collaborative powers were at their peak.
16. Brinsley Schwartz, (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” (1974).
The original, Nick Lowe sung version of the song made popular by Elvis Costello in the early 80s.
17. The Kids, “Hey Little Girl” (c. 1979).
These San Antonio power poppers only released one 10-inch vinyl record, Pop ‘n’ Roll. If you happen to find one, snag it.
18. Joe Jackson, “One More Time” (1978).
Is there anyone else on the planet that can write a song about romantic disappointment as biting and as self-deprecating as Joe Jackson?
19. The Cars, “Got a Lot on My Head” (1979).
The Cars’ Greg Hawkes gives the Farfisa a new wave update on this should’ve been a hit from their second album.
20. The Mumps, “Crocodile Tears” (1977).
Perhaps influenced more by the eccentricities of Sparks than by the traditional pop leanings of the Beatles, “Crocodile Tears,” complete with hand claps and harmonies, is a power pop classic nonetheless.
Total Time: 1:00:02
Download it here: Birth of Power Pop - Disc One
Birth of Power Pop - Disc Two
21. Blondie, “Sunday Girl” (1978).
There are at least two power pop classics on Blondie’s Parallel Lines. The first, of course, was the Jack Lee penned “Hangin’ on the Telephone.” The second is this Chris Stein penned homage to the girl-group sound.
22. Nervus Rex, “Don’t Look” (1978).
One of the few power pop bands of the 1970s that utilized boy-girl harmonies. I just wish Lauren Agnelli’s vocals were a bit higher in the mix. They were a second tier New York, CBGB’s band.
23. The Real Kids, “My Baby’s Book” (1977).
John Felice grew up next door to Jonathan Richman and, at age 15, was an original member of the Modern Lovers! His tenure was short-lived, and he formed the categorically more raucous Real Kids. Their self-titled debut from 1977, is a Rock’n’roll classic.
24. 20/20, “Giving it All” (1978).
Another transplanted Tulsa, Oklahoma band that made their mark in L.A. (the other being the Dwight Twilley Band). This song actually pre-dates 20/20’s excellent major label output on Epic Records and was released as a single on Bomp! Records.
25. Big Star, “When My Baby’s Beside Me” (1972).
As I alluded to in the intro, how do you pick a Big Star song for this kind of compilation? Well, I used a very scientific approach: this comp needed some tambourine!
26. Dave Edmunds, “Never Been in Love” (1978).
This is from the first album Dave Edmunds did with Rockpile—showcasing the American roots-rock side of the power pop spectrum—not too shabby for a Welshman.
27. Todd Rundgren, “Long Flowing Robe” (1971).
Few people put together a body of work during the 70s as formidable as Todd Rundgren. Whether it was his introspective and sometimes experimental solo records, the prog-pop leanings of Utopia, or his tireless work as a producer and sound engineer, Todd Rundgren was the 70s.
28. Cheap Trick, “Come On, Come On” (1977).
Tom Werman gets a lot of flack for his production on In Color, but I think he did an excellent job in showcasing the infectious melodies Rick Nielson and Tom Peterson were so good at writing. This song has some guts.
29. The Jam, “It’s Too Bad” (1978).
T.S. Elliot is credited with saying: “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Paul Weller certainly stole the guitar riff in this song from the Beatles’ “She Loves You”—to magnificent effect.
30. Tom Petty, “Listen to Her Heart” (1978).
Within power pop circles, Tom Petty doesn’t get mentioned that often. That could be because he’s often played on “Classic Rock” radio. Whatever. I would put “American Girl” near the top of any list of great power pop songs, and this song wouldn’t be far behind!
31. The Diodes, “Red Rubber Ball” (1978).
This is a Paul Simon composition, which had seen chart success in 1965 when Cyrkle took a decidedly wimpier version of it up to #2 on Billboard. The Diodes, a first-wave Canadian punk band, gave this pop ditty some power.
32. Chris Bell, “I Got Kinda Lost” (c. 1978).
It’s hard to believe that other than the “I Am the Cosmos” single, Chris Bell’s non-Big Star output was kept in the vaults until 1992. This song should have been blaring out of every car radio in the late 70s!
33. The Flamin’ Groovies, “Yes It’s True” (1976).
My favorite song from my favorite power pop record of all-time: Shake Some Action.
34. The Go-Betweens, “Lee Remick” (1978).
The first single by one of Australia’s finest pop bands.
35. The Ramones, “Don’t Come Close” (1978).
Yes, the Ramones are better known for almost single-handedly inventing punk rock, but at the core of each and every song by these New York rockers is a consummate melodic sensibility.
36. The Boys, “Taking on the World” (1978).
While their first album (The Boys, 1977) ranks as one of the finest examples of British punk rock, their second album (Alternative Chartbusters, 1978) is widely revered as a power pop masterpiece. I think this particular track straddles the line between punk and power pop nicely.
37. The Poppees, “Love of the Loved” (1975).
If this sounds Beatle-esque, it’s because it is a Lennon-McCartney song that the Beatles never released. These anglophiles were, believe it or not, part of the early CBGB’s scene.
38. Shoes, “Like I Told You” (c. 1978).
This song, which was recorded at some point after their official debut, Black Vinyl Shoes (1977) and before their major label debut, Tongue Twister (1979), is a classic example of Shoes’ pop.
39. The Rubinoos, “Jennifer” (1977).
In an era when a tough guy image was everything, I don’t think this Berkley quartet, who graced the pages of several teen magazines, were ever taken seriously by the masses—Despite the fact that the New York Rocker called their debut “the best pop album of the decade.”
40. The Scruffs, “You’re No Fun” (1977).
If this sounds a bit like Big Star, that might be because Stephen Burns was from Memphis or, more probably, because it was recorded at Ardent Studios.
Total Time: 55:11
Download it here: Birth of Power Pop - Disc Two
Birth of Power Pop - Disc Three
41. Earth Quake, “Julie Anne” (1977).
There are essentially two eras in Earth Quake’s career. They released two unexceptional hard rock albums for A&M in 1971 and 1972. Both albums tanked, and they went back to San Francisco where they retooled their sound and started one of the most influential labels in the history of power pop, Berserkley Records.
42. Marbles, “Red Light” (1976).
Not to be confused with the British, 60s psyche-pop band or Robert Schneider’s (of Apples in Stereo) side project. These Marbles released the “Red Light” 7-inch on the legendary, NYC indie-label, Ork Records.
43. The Motors, “Soul Redeemer” (1978).
Another first wave U.K. band that was quick to adopt a more pop-friendly direction on their second album.
44. The Nerves, “Give Me Some Time” (1976).
Given that they only produced one self-released, four-song EP, the Nerves made quite an impact on power pop. This was the second Jack Lee penned song on that landmark recording—“Hangin’ on the Telephone” being the other.
45. The Rumour, “Emotional Traffic” (1979).
This British band is probably more famous for its role as a backing band (Graham Parker, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds among others) then for its three long players from 1977-1980. This song is aching to be covered, minus the new wave gloss.
46. The Barracudas, “Neighbourhood Girls” (1979).
The greatest surf band in the history of the U.K.! This was a prelude to the heights they would achieve on 1981’s Drop Out With the Barracudas.
47. The Undertones, “Wrong Way” (1979).
Feargal Sharkey’s voice didn’t lend itself to harmonies, but that was okay—the O’Neill brothers (John and Damian) could sing like birds. They were also the main songwriters in this seminal Irish pop band.
48. Badfinger, “Baby Blue” (1971).
Written by Pete Ham, this song has the greatest bridge in all of Rock’n’Roll. Seamless.
49. Sneakers, “Love’s Like a Cuban Crisis” (1976).
From their legendary debut EP, this has all the hallmarks of a great Chris Stamey composition: jangly, chiming guitars (check), sing-along chorus (check), lyrical ingenuity (check) and slightly off-kilter, melodic sensibility (check).
50. Emitt Rhodes, “Fresh as a Daisy” (1970).
Better known for his work in the Merry-Go-Round, Emitt Rhodes (who was from Hawthorne, CA, btw) wrote, played and recorded everything on his fabulous solo debut. This McCartney-like single nearly cracked the Top 40.
51. The Hitmen, “Didn’t Tell the Man” (1979).
Johnny Kannis and Chris Masuak, both alumni of the legendary Australian punk rock outfit Radio Birdman, formed this band after a Radio Birdman European tour with the Flamin’ Groovies.
52. The Tourists, “Blind Among the Flowers” (1979).
More famous for being the band Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox were in before the Eurythmics, the Tourists were a more guitar-oriented pop group led by the group’s main songwriter, Pete Coombes. This was their first single.
53. The Romantics, “First in Line” (1978).
The flipside of the Romantics’ second single, “Tell it to Carrie” on Bomp! Records. They were still a couple of years away from the major label success of “What I Like About You.”
[PLEASE NOTE: I JUST REALIZED AS I WAS DOING A PLAYBACK, THAT TRACK #54 AND TRACK #55 ARE REVERSED. THE FILE IS LABELED WRONG AND SHOULD READ AS FOLLOWS]
54. Alice Cooper, “Caught in a Dream” (1971).
The lead track from the first Bob Ezrin produced Alice Cooper album, Love it to Death. While most Alice Cooper songs have a grittier sound than this, Michael Bruce (Cooper’s original guitarist) wrote a classic rock’n’roll tune here that could easily be described as power pop.
55. The Vibrators, “Whips & Furs” (1977).
From their stunning debut, Pure Mania. While it is usually grouped with the punk classics of 1977, stylistically, this album was all over the rock’n’roll map.
56. Spitballs, “Way Over There” (1978).
This is a fairly faithful cover of an early Berry Gordy/Smokey Robinson tune. The Spitballs were actually not a real band, it was made up of various members on the Berserkely label who got together and produced a pretty good covers album.
57. Paul Collins’ Beat, “Rock N Roll Girl” (1979).
Paul Collins studied composition at Julliard and played drums for the Nerves. I wonder which influenced him the most?
58. The Breakaways, “One Way Ticket” (ca. 1978).
Just after the Nerves split up, Peter Case and Paul Collins formed this short-lived band to get Collins out from behind the drum kit. This was a Peter Case penned number, which is slightly different then the version they recorded in the Nerves.
59. The Dickies, “Fan Mail” (1979).
Mixing humor and art has always been a difficult task but the Dickies were certainly able to pull it off. Bonus points for rhyming “paraphernalia” and “regalia.”
60. Blue Ash, “I Remember a Time” (1973).
Ohio’s answer to the Raspberries, although they weren’t quite Teenbeat pin-ups. Blue Ash put out two exceptional power pop albums in the 70s: equal parts Beatles and Byrds.
Total Time: 53:14
Download it here: Birth of Power Pop - Disc Three
[EDIT June 6, 2011]There have been some problems with some of the tracks not unzipping properly, and eventually I will change the links, but for now I know people are having problems with this one:
Disc 1, track #11: Television, “Careful” (1978).
If you run across any problems, please feel free to let me know in the comments and I'll try to fix it ASAP![END OF EDIT]