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Pop-A-Looza TV

Ken Sharp / Susannah Silently Shining

Here at Pop-A-Looza HQ, we’re enjoying the heck out of the latest Lp from Ken Sharp, Miniatures. One of our favorites tracks, Susannah Silently Shining, is also a nifty video. This release is guaranteed to be on our year-end-best list, and we think if you give it a listen, it’ll be on yours, too.

https://kensharp.bandcamp.com/album/miniatures

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Just Say Uncle

To support the art of Dan Pavelich, please visit http://www.patreon.com/justsayuncle.
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Boppin'

My Top Ten Power Pop Acts

Jari Mäkeläinen asked me to contribute a sidebar piece to be used in Manifesti, a fanzine published in Finland. The challenge posed to sidebar contributors: name your all-time top ten power pop acts.

In the words of Micky Dolenz: okay, I will.

MY TOP TEN POWER POP ACTS

by Carl Cafarelli

For me, the challenge of naming my all-time top ten power pop acts is in deciding what parameters of power pop I wanna play within. While many view power pop as strictly a post-Beatles phenomenon, I agree with the view expressed by writers Greg Shaw and Gary Sperrazza! in Bomp! magazine’s epic 1978 power pop issue: power pop began in the ’60s. Greg ‘n’ Gary traced power pop back to the early Who, while I go a little bit further back to the Beatles’ “Please Please Me” in 1963. I’ve begun to entertain the notion that power pop predates even that; I don’t think the music of Buddy Hollythe Beach Boys, or the Everly Brothers is quite power pop, but it’s difficult to dismiss the power pop gravitas of some of Eddie Cochran‘s singles, especially “Somethin’ Else” and “Nervous Breakdown.”

But I wouldn’t list the Beatles or the Kinks among my all-time Fave Rave power pop acts, if only because so much of their work falls outside my idea of power pop. The Who were 100 % power pop until Tommy, and really not power pop after that. 

So my power pop Top Ten doesn’t go back to the ’60s. By default, and for different reasons, I wind up agreeing with those who won’t move power pop’s Ground Zero to any date before John, Paul, George, and Ringo settled on separate and individual long and winding roads. I’ve also come to accept the idea that power pop isn’t so much a genre as it an approach, which means relatively few acts are strictly power pop all of the time. With all that said, this list offers ten dynamic rock ‘n’ roll combos I’m comfortable referring to as power pop acts.

THE WHO

Yeah, I was lying. Upon further review, you can’t talk about power pop without talking about the early Who, “I Can’t Explain” through The Who Sell Out. It’s not just because Pete Townshend coined the phrase; it’s because he and his band embodied it. Everything the Who did before Tommy is at least peripheral to power pop, and much of it is the power pop Gospel.

THE FLASHCUBES

Power pop on the radio, where it belongs. The horny singles–“Go All The Way,” “I Wanna Be With You,” “Tonight,” and “Ecstasy”–plus the dreamy “Let’s Pretend” (also covered by the Bay City Rollers) and album track “Play On” combine for a compact summary of the Raspberries’ power pop c.v.

THE RAMONES

A consistently controversial choice for a power pop list, but I side with the Bomp! writers who considered the Ramones an essential part of the power pop story. The first four albums tell the tale: RamonesLeave HomeRocket To Russia, and Road To Ruin, with a little extra oomph provided by the irresistible in-concert document It’s Alive!

BADFINGER

This gets back to the idea that some (many, most) power pop bands aren’t power pop all of the time. Badfinger certainly wasn’t, but then I’ve also gotta get back to that idea of power pop on the radio, where it belongs. “Baby Blue” may be my all-time # 1 favorite track by anybody.

THE ROMANTICS

On the other hand, the Romantics are generally power pop regardless of their intent. It’s their DNA. They tried to make a hard rock album, Strictly Personal, but it came out as hard-rockin’ power pop, and I mean that as a compliment. If you do just one Romantics album, you’ve gotta go with the eponymous debut, which includes “What I Like About You” and “When I Look In Your Eyes.” Their early indie singles are likewise essential, especially “Little White Lies”/”I Can’t Tell You Anything.”

THE GO-GO’S

I continuously waffle on the question of whether or not the Go-Go’s can be considered a power pop act. Their debut album Beauty And The Beat comes close at the very least, and its power remains undiminished forty years on. It’s not just that album’s great singles “We Got The Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed,” but also album tracks like “Can’t Stop The World” and “This Town” that make the case on behalf of the Go-Go’s. Add in subsequent tracks from “Vacation” to “Head Over Heels” to “The Whole World Lost Its Head” to “La La Land,” and it’s difficult to deny the truth that this is pop with power.

THE NERVES

Cheating, but I don’t care. The Nerves’ eponymous 1976 EP inspired Blondie with “Hanging On The Telephone” (written by the Nerves’ Jack Lee), but Lee’s fellow Nerves Paul Collins and Peter Case went on to have significant and prevailing impact on power pop with their post-Nerves work in Paul Collins’ Beat and the Plimsouls, respectively.

BIG STAR

Big Star’s story also sprawls, spills, and bleeds beyond power pop territory, and I’m sympathetic to those who claim the group’s records didn’t have the pure power one would expect from power pop. Nonetheless: “Back Of A Car” delivers, and “September Gurls” transcends our silly little labels to assume the description a rock journalist bestowed upon it decades ago: “Innocent, but deadly.” First two albums, # 1 Record and Radio CityThird, however, is most definitely not power pop.

THE SPONGETONES

North Carolina’s phenomenal pop combo the Spongetones have always taken their love of rock and pop and Beatles and British Invasion and channeled it into something unerringly Fab. You know that can’t be bad.

With a limit of ten acts in this exercise, I can’t go on to tell you about the RubinoosPezbandHolly and the Italiansthe Flamin’ Grooviesthe RecordsShoesthe BuzzcocksGeneration XDirty Looksthe Shivversthe ScruffsSorrowsArtful DodgerBlue Ashthe Knack, and dozens more, then and now. Good thing that, in real life, we’re not limited to just ten favorite power pop acts, right? Play on.

TIP THE BLOGGER: CC’s Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.

This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

The many fine This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin’ pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset–Benefit For This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio:  CD or download

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl.

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52 Sellout

Tribute To An Unknown Famous Highway

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Pop-A-Looza TV

The Pretenders / Complex Person

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Birthdays

Hillary Brooke

Born on this day in 1914, in Astoria, New York, actress, Hillary Brooke. Brooke appeared in a couple of Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone, as well as a slew of film noirs. She later moved to television, with a recurring role as a neighbor on The Abbott and Costello Show.

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Birthdays

Buddy Holly

Born on this day in 1936, in Lubbock, Texas, entertainer, Buddy Holly. Holly and his band, The Crickets, scored with a dozen hit songs, including Peggy Sue and That’ll Be The Day, in less than two years.

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Boppin'

The Ramones: It’s Alive!

THE RAMONES

It’s Alive!

Sire (46045

It’s about bloody time. It’s Alive!, the Ramones’ 1979 tour-de-force double-LP live album, has finally gotten a domestic release, a mere 16 years behind the rest of the free world. Everything that’s gone wrong with this country since then, from the Iranian hostage crisis to the O. J. Simpson trial, can no doubt be attributed to Americans’ lack of easy access to the one live album that could obliterate all of life’s nagging little problems in a 1-2-3-4! barrage of amphetamine-laced bubblegum, fueled by punk attitude, a twisted AM pop sensibility, and a stunning use of nearly three chords.

Okay, so we’re getting carried away here. But critical objectivity tends to fly out the window when it comes to the Ramones. Many still view the group as a joke, while a select few (very few) others regard the Ramones with near-religious devotion. And let there be no doubt which side of that argument this scribe favors: the Ramones rule, pal, It’s Alive! is the greatest live album ever recorded, and if you don’t agree, then there’s something fundamentally wrong with you. Plus you’ve got bad breath.

Seriously, although It’s Alive! may not convert many non-believers to da cause, it’s a bracing, invigorating slap of Carbona-strength Hai Karate for righteous pinheads everywhere. Recorded live in London on New Year’s Eve 1977, It’s Alive! offers 28 faster-than-sound samples of unfiltered Ramonesness, culled from the group’s first three albums.


This was also one of the last appearances of original drummer  Tommy Ramone, who’d already been replaced by Marky Ramone by the time of It’s Alive!‘s original release. Although Marky is undeniably a (much!) more accomplished drummer than Tommy, the Ramones lost something irretrievable when Tommy left. Marky is heavier and flashier, and he’s propelled the Ramones to faster and faster rhythms, but Tommy’s light touch added a buoyancy that the group has been unable to replicate since.

And the band is in absolute control throughout this disc. Compare the military precision and passionate urgency of It’s Alive! with the detached, throw-away performance on 1992’s Blitzkrieg-by-numbers Loco Live, and there can be no doubt which disc captures Forest Hills’ Finest at the peak of their in-concert skills.
Color photos from the original LP’s gatefold have been changed to black-and-white for the CD insert (presumably so you can still sort of make them out in this cursed reduced format). But the sonic buzz is still there, an ephemeral thrill made timeless, preserving a fleeting moment when it really seemed possible–inevitable–that four guys from Queens could save rock ‘n’ roll. My fellow Americans, everything’s gonna be all right now.

2021 POSTSCRIPT: my appreciation of Marky Ramone has continued to grow over the decades. What hasn’t changed? It’s Alive! remains my all-time favorite live album.


TIP THE BLOGGER: CC’s Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.

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To support the art of Dan Pavelich, please visit http://www.patreon.com/justsayuncle.
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Welcome

Welcome! Welcome!

In the past few days, we’ve had visitors from; The United States, Mexico, Germany, The UK, Ireland, Sweden, UAE, Chile and Tunisia! Thank you all for stopping by! Please come again!