Sparkling power pop! Chicago’s musical DNA is understood to be that of a blues town. Rightly so; the Windy City’s seminal role in developing and shaping the blues as we know it is beyond question, and Chicago deserves further specific recognition as the home of the mighty Chess Records label. But Chicago is large; it contains multitudes. It’s not a contradiction for a city to produce and embrace more than one style of music. For power pop–sparkling power pop–Chicago’s favorite sons would have to be Pezband.
Pezband denied comparisons to The Raspberries, but the similarities were always too obvious to ignore. Influenced by The Beatles and other ’60s pop juggernauts? Check! Breathy vocals over hook-filled jangle ‘n’ buzz, tailor-made for the best AM radio station ever? Right-o, daddy-o. Harmonies? Guitars? Oomph? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Pezband released three albums of pleasantly Beatlesque pop, commencing with 1977’s Pezband. That debut album included Pezband’s signature tune “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and it carried a proud advisory to File Under: Pop Vocal. Pezband seemed primed for the poppermost’s elusive toppermost. And while the frenzied mass adulation of Pezbandmania never materialized, Pezband remains one of the all-time great power pop acts.
Pezband’s second album, 1978’s Laughing In The Dark, overtly embraced power pop as a marketing approach, its above-cited Sparkling power pop ad line beating The Knack to the punch by a year or so. 1979’s Cover To Cover was Pezband’s final album, and the group disbanded shortly thereafter. There have been reunions and scattered archival releases, but the U.S. market is sadly lacking the comprehensive Pezband reissue series pop fans deserve. Even a best-of set, collecting Pezband essentials like “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “Stop! Wait A Minute,” “Love Goes Underground,” “Come On Madeline,” “Please Be Somewhere Tonight,” and “Waiting In Line” would serve as a potent reminder of Pezband’s status among the all-time giants of power pop. Pezband frontman Mimi Betinis remains active, crafting pure pop for new and old people, a national treasure waiting in line for overdue recognition. That recognition begins with Pezband’s induction into The Power Pop Hall Of Fame. Just another power pop band from Chicago? No. Chicago’s phenomenal pop combo, a blues town’s favorite power pop sons. Love goes underground. The bright sound of Pezband reverberates still.
TIP THE BLOGGER: CC’s Tip Jar!
You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby!