THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: “September Gurls”

BIG STAR: “September Gurls”
The heart is often incapable of speaking its own mind. Please forgive the mixed metaphor, because it’s true: on an emotional level, the thing that is most important to us is the most difficult to articulate.  If you were ever a teenager in love, you know this first-hand; and if, at any age, you have watched a love slip away–casually or cruelly, by accident or design, temporarily or irrevocably–then you still remember the ache of your tongue-tied efforts to somehow express the poetry inside you, to give voice to the exact words that, when spoken, will make True Love prevail against unbelievable odds.  So many words, so much to say.  And all we can do as she walks away is mumble, “I loved you, well…never mind.”

With that phrase, Alex Chilton turned even our seeming helplessness into art.  A teenaged hitmaker with The Box Tops, a cult-pop legend with Big Star, and a fiercely (and frustratingly) independent solo artist, Alex Chilton was dismissive of his own legacy.  But he was a brilliant songwriter, responsible in whole or in part for a handful of what I believe to be among the most affecting, beautiful pop songs ever done.  With his Big Star partner Chris Bell, Chilton co-wrote “The Ballad Of El Goodo,” the single most transcendent expression of triumphant hope that I am ever likely to hear; their song “Thirteen” found the elusive words to articulate adolescence as no other song before or since.  And Chilton’s “September Gurls,” perhaps the greatest record ever made, is with me every day of my life, its haunting mix of longing and possibility providing a constant reminder of the heart’s struggle to speak its mind, and of the artist’s ability to turn the struggle itself into unforgettable, eloquent elegance. 

As we say goodbye to Alex Chilton, we reflect on the wealth of wonderful music he left us.  The Box Tops’ hits–“Soul Deep,” “Cry Like A Baby,” “Neon Rainbow” and, especially, “The Letter”–still sound terrific on the radio, and they will always sound terrific on the radio, for as long as there is radio.  Chilton’s solo work, while I won’t pretend to be a big fan of much of it, shows an artist and performer determined to follow his own vision, without regard for what his audience might expect, stubbornly insistent that it will take you home and make you like it.  And Big Star…!  I can’t say enough about the sheer brilliance of Big Star, about how much those records have meant to me, of how much they will continue to mean.  So many words, so much to say, but…never mind.

I wrote all of the above when Alex Chilton passed away in March of 2010. Like most of us, I discovered Big Star well after the fact. I knew The Box Tops, of course, particularly “The Letter” (which itself deserves a turn as The Greatest Record Ever Made). I first heard of Big Star when Bomp! magazine published a history of the group in its landmark power pop issue in early ’78. Although I read my copy of that issue of Bomp! into its current worn ‘n’ tattered state, Big Star remained a mystery to me: unheard, and undiscovered.

A bit later that year, I was at a Flashcubes show at The Firebarn in Syracuse. The Flashcubes, although basically an undiscovered local group, had already become (wait for it) big stars in my eyes. Their originals were great, their choice of covers was great, and if you didn’t like them, I’m sorry, you just weren’t wired correctly. 

On this particular night, ‘Cubes bassist Gary Frenay asked the crowd if anyone remembered The Box Tops. Hell, yeah! would sum up the collective response. And then Gary explained about Alex Chilton and Big Star, and The Flashcubes began to play “September Gurls.”

That mournful, unforgettable guitar opening; that determination for the heart to speak its mind; those lyrics, hiding heartbreak behind hope, aching with the uncertainty of a love that may be almost, almost within our grasp, or may already be just beyond our reach, forever unattainable.

September gurls do so much
I was your Butch, and you were touched
I loved you
Well…never mind
I’ve been crying all the time
As an eighteen-year-old pop fan, standing in The Firebarn, transfixed as The Flashcubes introduced me to this hidden world of yearning and beauty, my mind raced with the only three words that matter when one first hears the greatest song of all time: Oh. My. GOD!!

Big Star records weren’t all that easy to come by in 1978. I didn’t hear any of Big Star’s own recordings until Gary and Flashcubes drummer Tommy Allen played the original “September Gurls” during a guest DJ stint on 95X in 1979. I was…um, underwhelmed. The Flashcubes do it better!, I thought. But my appreciation of the song, and of Big Star, would only grow greater and greater over time.

“September Gurls” was covered in the ’80s by The Searchers and The Bangles. If The Flashcubes had gotten a record deal in the ’70s, I betcha they’d have recorded it, too. In fact, in an otherwise-unflattering New York Rocker magazine review of a Flashcubes show, the writer ended his pan by noting that “September Gurls” was great, though. At a Let’s Active show in Buffalo, I yelled out an amiable request for “September Gurls.” The band didn’t oblige, but bassist Faye Hunter seemed surprised and pleased by the idea, as she smiled and said, Did someone just request Big Star?

Big Star was a big secret. As I became familiar with Big Star’s records, I became a fan. And I soon learned that being a Big Star fan was like being a member of an underground pop society, a discerning, scattered network of music enthusiasts who knew–knew–there was more out there, old and new, than we were hearing on any radio station anywhere. Big Star was the golden ticket. You like Big Star? You’re one of us, then. 

This goes well beyond the limited parameters of hipster snobbery, of us versus them, of self-conscious cool that is, in fact, not cool in any way. This is faith. This is belief in the power of song. This is the inner certainty that there is greatness everywhere, awaiting someone to appreciate it and spread its Gospel. And there is no greater manifestation of that belief than the pure, tear-stained splendor of Big Star’s “September Gurls.”

How can I deny what’s inside?
 
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UNFINISHED AND ABANDONED: Pop Compilation CD’s

Unfinished And Abandoned digs deeeeep into my unpublished archives, and exhumes projects that I started (sometimes barely started) but abandoned, unfinished. I am such a quitter.

Some years back, after I’d written the liner notes to Rhino’s compilation Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The ’90s (a compilation which I did not assemble), an independent record label contacted me about putting together some pop compilation CDs.  The intent was to create compilations that would be commercial, aesthetically viable, and economical (i.e., the tracks could be licensed cheaply, ideally avoiding major labels).  Nothing ever came of any of this; I did my part, so I guess it’s not exactly something that I abandoned.  Here are the notes I submitted for these proposed compilation CDs.

POP SAMPLER (which is in dire need of a catchier title).  The vague parameters I had in mind were mid-to-late ’70s/early ’80s pop and power pop, though I fudged it on several tracks.

1.  DWIGHT TWILLEY:  “I’m On Fire [unreleased live version]”  This is an unconfirmed possibility, but Twilley’s office has indicated that such a track might be available.  (Tracks by the original Dwight Twilley Band, featuring the late, great Phil Seymour, would apparently not be available due to the usual legal yada yada yada.)  This is certainly worth further investigation.  

2.  BIG STAR:  “In The Streets” (aka “That ’70s Song”)  Cheap Trick is covering this as the new theme song for TV’s That ’70s Show.  We might be able to use Big Star’s studio rehearsal version, found on Norton’s recent Nobody Can Dance CD.  Failing that, perhaps we could use the live version from Big Star’s Live CD on Rykodisc (though the Norton track is far better).

3.  BADFINGER:  “Baby Blue”  Live version from Rykodisc’s Day After Day CD.

4.  THE ROMANTICS:  “Little White Lies”  The Romantics’ debut indie single from 1978, still owned by the band and never reissued.  It kicks, too.  (The single’s B-side, “I Can’t Tell You Anything,” is also worth considering.)

5.  THE PLIMSOULS:  “A Million Miles Away”  Single on the Shaky City label, originally distributed by Bomp!  This could probably be licensed from Plimsouls guitarist Eddie Munoz or perhaps through Bomp!

6.  THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES:  “Shake Some Action [U.K. single version, 1976]”  This is a completely different version of the song, recorded a year later than the familiar title track of the group’s first LP for Sire.  This has never been issued in the U.S., and it may or may not belong to Sire–it was originally a demo for Capitol, actually, but Capitol passed on it, and Sire did eventually release it as a single.  I’m listing it here in hope that it’s available for us, but I’m resigned to the probability that we ain’t gonna get it. 

                                    –OR–

            “Shake Some Action” (live version from Live at the Whiskey A-Go-Go ’79 album, issued by Lolita in France, 1985)

                                    –OR–

            “You Tore Me Down”  The first single released by Bomp!

7.  THE FLASHCUBES:  “No Promise”  My favorite power pop band (so their inclusion on this CD would basically be my tip, I guess), with their best-ever recreation of the Raspberries sound.  There are two versions of this available, one of which was included on the group’s Bright Lights CD.  I’d opt for the earlier version instead, but either one’s great.

8.  THE RAMONES:  “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”  Pre-Sire demo side, presumably available from Marty Thau.

9.  BLOTTO:  “I Wanna See The Monkees (I Wanna Be A Lifeguard)” Alternate version of the group’s best-known tune, with different lyrics, done for NYC radio (WNEW, I think?).  I wouldn’t place any firm wager on a clean copy of this still existing, but it’s worth a shot.  Could also use “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard” and/or “When The Second Feature Starts,” though I see both of them as better choices for a New Wave Summer CD.

10.  THE NERVES:  “Hanging On The Telephone” (indie EP track, 1977).  Song later covered by Blondie, written by The Nerves’ Jack Lee.  The other Nerves were Peter Case (later of The Plimsouls) and Paul Collins (later of Paul Collins’ Beat).  Rhino licensed this from Jack Lee for the Come Out And Play power pop anthology in 1993.

11.  SHOES:  “Tomorrow Night”  1978 Bomp! single.

12.  MARSHALL CRENSHAW:  “Something’s Gonna Happen”  1981 12″ single for Alan Betrock’s Shake label.

13.  20/20:  “Giving It All”  Bomp! single.

14.  THE SMITHEREENS:  “Got Me A Girl” (from Girls About Town EP, 1980).  From the group’s self-released debut EP.

15.  THE dB’S:  “Black And White”  This was originally a 1980 single on Shake, and was subsequently used on the group’s first album–not sure if the single and LP tracks are identical. 

16.  THE BARRACUDAS:  “I Wish It Could Be 1965 Again” From the 1981 Voxx LP Drop Out With The Barracudas.

17.  THE MOSQUITOS:  “That Was Then, This Is Now”  Title track from the Mosquitos’ 1985 Valhalla EP, and the original version of the tune redone to Top 20 success by the reunited Monkees in 1986. 

18.  PAUL COLLINS:  “Walking Out On Love”  This was credited to The Breakaways (which also featured Peter Case, Collins’ ex-partner in The Nerves who went on to form The Plimsouls) when Bomp! exhumed it for its Roots Of Powerpop CD.  It was credited to Paul Collins solo when first issued in ’79 on Bomp!’s Waves, Volume One anthology, and was subsequently redone by Collins’ next group, The Beat, for their debut LP.  And that’s probably more information than you actually need. 

19.  PEZBAND:  “Stop!  Wait A Minute”  (from 1978 Laughing In The Dark LP on Passport).  Rhino licensed this from band member Mike Gorman for Come Out And Play.  Gorman is currently a member of Off Broadway, who recently released a live album on the NMG label outta Phoenix.

20.  THE REAL KIDS:  “All Kindsa Gir” (Sponge single, 1977; re-recorded for Red Star LP, 1978).  Either version’s cool.

21.  THE SCRUFFS:  “Teenage Girls” .  Originally a 1978 single on the Power Play label, this was more recently the title track of a Scruffs CD issued by Northern Heights.  

22.  ROY LONEY AND THE PHANTOM MOVERS:  “Steppiní Around”  Former Flamin’ Groovies frontman, from his 1989 The Scientific Bombs Away!! LP on Norton.

23.  THE POPPEES:  “If She Cries”  1975 Bomp! single.

24.  THE SPONGETONES:  “(My Girl) Maryanne” (from 1984 Torn Apart EP on Ripete).  This was reissued by Shoes’ label Black Vinyl on the Beat And Torn CD just a few years back

25.  THE RAVES:  “Every Little Bit Hurts” Recorded early ’80s, eventually released on the Past Perfect Tense CD.  Very Beatley! 

OTHER POSSIBILITIES:

CHEAP TRICK.  I suppose this is # 1 on our wish list, but they spent the bulk of their career on Epic, so there might not be much that’s suitable for our needs.  They’re basically independent now, though, and they’re still a killer live group, so perhaps there’s a recent live version of “Surrender,” “I Want You To Want Me,” or “Dream Police” that we could snag.  Ken Sharp might know….THE KNACK.  I’ve been e-mailing some folks regarding the possibility of a live “Good Girls Don’t” or (if we must) “My Sharona,” but have gotten no response.  

THE RASPBERRIES  The group’s pre-Capitol demos exist, and are said to be pretty good (though they don’t include any of the group’s best-known tunes).  I’ve gotten nowhere in my attempts to find out more about these; again, maybe Ken Sharp has some ideas.THE BAY CITY ROLLERS Real long-shot, especially since the recently-reunited group is getting set to wage legal war on Arista and their former manager.  However, there was a Japanese-only release in the mid-’80s called Live In Japan, and that may be available from the band itself. 

THE RUBINOOS  I think Disney owns Beserkley now, so we’ll probably forget about licensing studio tracks.  Live tracks, maybe?  I can contact Tommy Dunbar’s wife for further inquiries.

NEW WAVE SUMMER 

1. BLOTTO:  “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard”  From 1980 indie EP. 

2. BLOTTO:  “When The Second Feature Starts”  1981 single.

3. THE B-52’s:  “Rock Lobster”  Original 45 version, though I haven’t heard it in years and don’t remember the label.  Yeah, a fat lotta help I am….

4. DAVE EDMUNDS:  “London’s A Lonely Town” You may know the story on this Tradewinds cover better than I do–I’ve never actually heard it, only heard of it.  I think this surfaced on one of the original Pebbles albums, and never elsewhere. 

5. CHRIS STAMEY AND THE dB’S:  “The Summer Sun”  Rhino licensed this from Stamey for the Come Out And Play sampler.

6. KYLE VINCENT AND TOMMY DUNBAR, FEATURING SCOTT McCARL:  “On The Beach”  Stretching things a bit to call this “new wave,” but I’ll settle for pop guy Vincent joining forces with The Rubinoos’ Tommy Dunbar and The Raspberries’ Scott McCarl on a Raspberries cover.  Originally recorded for a Raspberries tribute (and, incredibly, not used on that trib), this has only appeared on Pop Under The Surface, Volume Two, a pop sampler from Sweden’s Yesterday Girl label.  Kyle’s fans are vocal and loyal, and their support would be A Good Thing.

7. THE ROMANTICS:  “Let’s Swing”  Originally issued on a Bomp! sampler album called Waves, reissued by Bomp! on a cash-in Romantics mini-LP or something shortly after the group’s first album was released.  It hasn’t been heard from since.

8. THE BARRACUDAS:  “Surfers Are Back”  From the Bomp! album Drop Out With The Barracudas.  Alternate track:  “Summer Fun,” a British hit single from the same album.

9. THE BARRACUDAS:  “His Last Summer”  Also from Drop Out With The Barracudas.

10. THE B-GIRLS:  “Fun At The Beach”  Bomp! single.

11. THE TEARJERKERS:  “Syracuse Summer”  Terrific application of the Brian Wilson treatment in tribute to the mercurial climate of Central New York.  Written by The Flashcubes’ Gary Frenay. 

12. EUCLID BEACH BAND:  “There’s No Surf In Cleveland”  Eric Carmen-produced gem, released on the Cleveland International label.  I have a feeling Sony owns this, but it’s not definite.

13. THE RAMONES:  “Surfin’ Safari”  Released only on the Japanese version of their Acid Eatersalbum.  Available?  Well…I’d bet not.  It’d be a shame to do a New Wave Summer set without including The Ramones–“Rockaway Beach” and “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” are obvious choices here–but it may be beyond practical control. 

14. THE LAST:  “Every Summer Day” From their debut LP on Bomp!

15. THE FLASHCUBES:  “Muscle Beach”  From the group’s Bright Lights anthology.  Actually not one of their best numbers, but still energetic as hell and good for our purposes.

16. THE SMITHEREENS:  “Girl Don’t Tell Me”  Beach Boys cover from The Smithereens’ debut indie EP, Girls About Town.  Never reissued.

17. RODNEY AND THE BRUNETTES:  “Little GTO”  Bomp! single, with L.A. DJ Rodney Bingenheimer backed by Blondie.

18. THE SEX PISTOLS:  “Holidays In The Sun” (demo)

19. BLONDIE:  “In The Sun” Is there a pre-Private Stock/Chrysalis version of this?!

20. THE FLESHTONES:  “B.Y.O.B.”  From ROIR/Red Starí’ Blast Off! album.

21. THE DICTATORS:  “I Live For Cars And Girls”  If the studio take can’t be had, is there a live version available?  (“California Sun” would also be good.)

22. THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES:  “Sealed With A Kiss” (from 1992 Rock Juice album on Michael Goldberg’s National Records label, which was affiliated with Heyday

23. THE RATTLERS (WITH JOEY RAMONE):  “On The Beach”  Hey, a Ramone makes it in!  1979 single on the Ratso label–Rattlers frontman Mickey Leigh is Joey’s brother.  This was re-recorded (without Joey) for the group’s 1985 Rattled LP, and the subsequent CD reissue includes the single’s B-side but not the original version of the A-side.  There might even have been a legal problem with using Joey’s vocals–which would, of course, suck.  

2016 POSTSCRIPT: As noted, nothing ever came of any of this.  I was also hired by BMG to compile a Buddah Records bubblegum compilation, a project which was also stillborn (though at least I got paid for that one).  Ultimately, it turned out that if I wanted to put together a pop compilation CD, I’d have to take more direct action.  The first This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio compilation was issued commercially in 2004.

COME ON LET’S GO!

In 2019, the British label Ace Records (via its Big Beat imprint) released a compilation CD called Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s. I was so enthused about the set that not only did I buy it (of course!), but I also imagined a series of sequels that should have been. 

Those four hypothetical sequels–It’s Cold Outside!Kids Just Wanna Dance!Gotta Have Pop!, and the UK-centric Do Anything You Wanna Do!–never really existed, but Big Beat did eventually release two real-world sequels, Girls Go Power Pop! and Rockets Of Love!, and the latter disc did indeed fulfill my wish of including a track from Syracuse’s own power pop power house the Flashcubes.

But I don’t think Big Beat has yet used many of the tracks I suggested in my own individual flights of fancy; maybe just the Producers‘ “What’s He Got?,” the Go-Go’s‘ “We Got The Beat,” and Candy‘s “Whatever Happened To Fun…”. To avoid duplication with the real-life Big Beat CDs, we’ve subbed out those two tracks in favor of selections by the CynicsRonnie Spector (with Marshall Crenshaw), and Shoes. Otherwise: for posterity, and mostly just for whatever-happened-to fun, today’s post collects my 2019 ramblings about Come On Let’s Go! and the subsequent power pop collections I thought Big Beat oughtta do next. I tell ya, the ideas are still pretty good. Somebody get Big Beat on the phone! 

For now, though: are ya ready? Come on. Let’s GO!!!

COME ON LET’S GO! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

The British label Big Beat is set to release a new power pop compilation next month. Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s collects 24 tracks, mixing familiar favorites by the Raspberriesthe RomanticsShoes, the Flamin’ Groovies, and Big Star with lesser-known treats of the same vintage. Cover boys the Rubinoos are represented by “Rock And Roll Is Dead,” the single most rockin’ track on that group’s rockin’ debut album. Here’s the compilation’s complete track listing:

THE PALEY BROTHERS & THE RAMONES: Come On Let’s Go
THE RASPBERRIES: I Wanna Be With You
THE ROMANTICS: What I Like About You
DIRTY LOOKS: Let Go
DWIGHT TWILLEY BAND: Looking For The Magic
THE TWEEDS: I Need That Record
THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES: Shake Some Action [first version]
THE SPONGETONES: (My Girl) Maryanne
THE SECRETS: Radio Heart
ROBERT JOHNSON: Kerri
NASHVILLE RAMBLERS: The Trains
20/20: Nuclear Boy
THE TOMS: Better Than Anyone Else
BILL LLOYD: Nothing Comes Close
THE BOYS: (Baby) It’s You
WIRE TRAIN: It’s Only Dark
VAN DUREN & JODY STEPHENS: Andy, Please [first version]
THE ROOKS: Glitter Best
THE SHIVVERS: Teen Line
BIG STAR: September Gurls
GARY CHARLSON: Not The Way It Seems
SHOES: Tomorrow Night [first version]
THE RUBINOOS: Rock And Roll Is Dead
UTOPIA: One World


Looks like a nice set, and kudos for including the Spongetones‘ fabulous “(My Girl) Maryanne” and Dirty Looks‘ pumpin’, peerless “Let Go,” and more kudos for saluting the Shivvers (even though I would have gone with “Please Stand By” instead of “Teen Line”). As always, I wish there were something by the Flashcubes on here, but I gotta give credit to the Big Beat brigade for putting together a ’70s/’80s power pop sampler that has hits for the dilettante and buried treasure for the faithful. Sure, I already have most of these, but there are a few I don’t own yet, and getting the Dirty Looks and Paley Brothers/Ramones cuts on CD seals the deal for me. Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s is due out on July 26th.

IN THE MEAN TIME, though, I think I’ll see what I would slap together if I were in charge of a sequel. SPOILER ALERT: it would include a track by the Flashcubes. Stay tuned.

IT’S COLD OUTSIDE! More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

Yesterday, we talked a little about Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s, a promising little pop compilation due out in July from the good folks at England’s Big Beat label. Today, we move on to AN ENTIRELY FICTIONAL sequel to that disc.

(Well…maybe not entirely fictional. The songs themselves are all real tracks recorded in the appropriate time frame. The compilation is itself a fabrication, but I could slap it together as a real-life playlist and listen on my iPod right now. It would make a great CD.)

It’s Cold Outside! More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

1. STIV BATORS: It’s Cold Outside
2. THE MOSQUITOS: That Was Then, This Is Now
3. THE FLASHCUBES: No Promise
4. THE KNACK: Good Girls Don’t [single version]
5. THE REAL KIDS: Now You Know
6. DOLENZ, JONES, BOYCE & HART: You Didn’t Feel That Way Last Night (Don’t You Remember)
7. THE LAUGHING DOGS: Get ‘Im Outa Town
8. FOTOMAKER: Come Back
9. HOLLY & THE ITALIANS: Do You Say Love
10. PAGLIARO: Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy
11. APRIL WINE: Tonight Is A Wonderful Time (To Fall In Love)
12. RAY PAUL & RPM: How Do You Know
13. THE SHIVVERS: Please Stand By
14. VAN DUREN: Oh Babe
15. FOOLS FACE: Even Angels Fall
16. SORROWS: Teenage Heartbreak
17. THE RESTLESS: I Wanna Know
18. EMITT RHODES: Fresh As A Daisy
19. THE DWIGHT TWILLEY BAND: You Were So Warm
20. GARY CHARLSON: Burning In You
21. THE SCRUFFS: Teenage Girls
22. TUFF DARTS: Who’s Been Sleeping Here
23. THE NOW: He’s Takin’ You To The Movies
24. THE ROMANTICS: Little White Lies [first version]
I’d buy that! We lead off with former Dead Boys singer Stiv Bators‘ incredible cover of the Choir‘s 1966 pop classic “It’s Cold Outside” (featuring Blue Ash guitarist Frank Secich), and we close with the Romantics‘ debut indie single (one of the best tracks they ever did, and it’s never been given any legit reissue). In between we have a mix of simply stellar pop cuts made by North American acts in the ’70s and ’80s. This make-believe set would be the first-ever CD appearance of anything from the original lifespan of Springfield, Missouri’s phenomenal pop combo Fools Face, and the first time the Restless (great ’80s Buffalo group whose one album for Mercury Records is in dire need of reissue), the Mosquitos (original version of a song covered by the Monkees), the Flashcubes‘ “No Promise” (my all-time favorite power pop track), or Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart‘s fabulous “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” rewrite “You Didn’t Feel That Way Last Night (Don’t You Remember)” has appeared on a various-artists pop CD.

And it cries out for another sequel! And I have just the thing in mind. In the mean time: Hey, Big Beat Records! Get to work! And send my finder’s fee here.

KIDS JUST WANNA DANCE! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

Can’t stop the pop!

We’ve already followed the announcement of the British Big Beat Records label’s forthcoming (and cool) real-world ’70s and ’80s power pop compilation Come On Let’s Go! with my own fictitious sequel It’s Cold Outside! That was fun! Let’s do another!

Kids Just Wanna Dance! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s imagines another 24-track collection of North American cuts from that area. The title tune is an effervescent, Who-influenced 1977 B-Side by the Fast (and we’re definitely using the single version here; the group’s subsequent Ric Ocasek-produced version sounds less like power pop and more like the Cars). The rest? The rest rocks! To overstate the obvious: THIS COMPILATION IS FICTIONAL! It doesn’t exist. But it should! As always, I invite Big Beat Records to just send me my finder’s fee and take it from there. 

Kids Just Wanna Dance! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s
1. THE FAST: Kids Just Wanna Dance [first version]
2. PHIL SEYMOUR: Let Her Dance
3. PEZBAND: Love Goes Underground
4. THE MOSQUITOS: I Know A Secret5. BLUE ASH: Abracadabra (Have You Seen Her)
6. THE RASPBERRIES: I’m A Rocker [single version]
7. RONNIE SPECTOR WITH MARSHALL CRENSHAW: Something’s Gonna Happen
8. BULLET: White Lies, Blue Eyes
9. THE RAMONES: Babysitter
10. PIPER: Drop By And Stay
11. NEW MATH: Die Trying
12. FOOLS FACE: Nothing To Say
13. GREG KIHN: Hurt So Bad
14. SCREEN TEST: Sound Of The Radio
15. THE MARSHALLS: AM
16. NIKKI & THE CORVETTES: Just What I Need
17. ARTFUL DODGER: Follow Me
18. QUINCY: Turn The Other Way Around
19. THE DIODES: Tired Of Waking Up Tired
20. VANCE OR TOWERS: Do Whatever We Want
21. THE SCRUFFS: Revenge
22. THE POPPEES: Jealousy
23. THE NERVES: Hanging On The Telephone
24. SHOES: The Things You Do

Power pop compilations! One real, two fake. AND IT’S NOT ENOUGH! Let’s do one more North American set, and then…well, rule Britannia!

GOTTA HAVE POP! Still More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

One more time!

We’ve discussed the new compilation CD Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s, due in July from Britain’s way fab Big Beat Records label. We’ve already added two imaginary sequels, It’s Cold Outside! More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s and Kids Just Wanna Dance! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s. Let’s slap together one more faux collection of vintage North American pop (with one UK ringer) before we finally finish up this exercise with a set of jangle ‘n’ buzz from the British Isles.

Our final set of American and Canadian pop from the ’70s and ’80s commences with ex-pat American (and current Canadian resident) Bob Segarini, who was a member of the Wackers before going solo. Segarini’s call-to-arms “Gotta Have Pop” serves as the kickoff for yet another stunning array of pop music from this classic era. We wish this compilation really existed, but alas, it does not. Nonetheless: pretty good for a fabrication, I say!
Gotta Have Pop! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

1. SEGARINI: Gotta Have Pop
2. THE SMITHEREENS: Strangers When We Meet
3. PAUL COLLINS: Walking Out On Love
4. STANLEY FRANK: S’cool Days
5. THE NATIVES: Tell Me A Story
6. THE VERTEBRATS: Diamonds In The Rough
7. THE PLIMSOULS: A Million Miles Away
8. COLOR ME GONE: Lose Control
9. LET’S ACTIVE: Blue Line
10. THE MOD FRAMES: I Don’t Want To Cry
11. THE NUMBERS: Can’t Sleep At Night
12. DAVID WERNER: Too Late To Try
13. TEENAGE HEADS: Tornado
14. THE EUCLID BEACH BAND: There’s No Surf In Cleveland
15. THE TEARJERKERS: Syracuse Summer
16. THE VIPERS: Tears (Only Dry)
17. THE SPONGETONES: Have You Ever Been Torn Apart?
18. THE CYNICS: Girl, You’re On My Mind
19. THE CICHLIDS: Did You Ever
20. THE ROMANTICS: I Can’t Tell You Anything [first version]
21. THE BANGLES: Silent Treatment
22. THE OHMS: Chain Letter
23. GREEN: She’s Not A Little Girl 
24. TODD RUNDGREN: Couldn’t I Just Tell You

While we could certainly continue to concoct irresistible collections of ’70s and ’80s North American power pop for, oh, forever or so, we’ll conclude the week with just one more set, hopping across the pond for a compilation of ace pop tracks from the British Isles.

DO ANYTHING YOU WANNA DO! 70s & 80s Power Pop Gems From The United Kingdom

At last, we reach the end of our short series of fabricated power pop compilations inspired by the real-world Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s, due out in July from England’s Big Beat RecordsBoppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do) responded with three fictional sequels–It’s Cold Outside!Kids Just Wanna Dance!, and Gotta Have Pop!–each offering 24 more tracks of fab North American pop from the ’70s and ’80s.

We close with one final disc, moving our spotlight across the water to the British Isles. Eddie and the Hot Rods‘ “Do Anything You Wanna Do” is one of the defining singles of power pop, so of course it opens this set of primo pop from England, Scotland, and Ireland. There are old wave names (the Searchers, plus former Herman’s Hermits leader Peter Noone fronting the Tremblers), international teen stars (the Bay City Rollers, represented by a post-mania track, originally credited to the truncated name the Rollers), and a variety of other pop, punk, and new wave acts of the era.

Do Anything You Wanna Do! 70s & 80s Power Pop Gems From The United Kingdom
1. EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS: Do Anything You Wanna Do
2. THE JAM: I Need You (For Someone) [single version]
3. THE KEYS: I Don’t Wanna Cry
4. BLUE: Danger Sign
5. ADVERTISING: Ich Liebe Dich
6. THE SEARCHERS: Hearts In Her Eyes
7. THE BUZZCOCKS: Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)
8. THE BAY CITY ROLLERS: Who’ll Be My Keeper
9. THE PLEASERS: The Kids Are Alright
10. THE TIMES: Whatever Happened To Thamesbeat?
11. CHICORY TIP: Good Grief Christina
12. THE ZONES: New Life
13. THE LAMBRETTAS: Da-a-a-ance
14. GENERATION X: Ready Steady Go
15. THE RECORDS: Starry Eyes [album version]
16. SQUIRE: The Life
17. THE TREMBLERS: I’ll Be Taking Her Out Tonight
18. THE RICH KIDS: Rich Kids
19. STARRY EYED AND LAUGHING: Chimes Of Freedom
20. DOLLY MIXTURE: Everything And More
21. KIRSTY MacCOLL: Terry
22. THE BARRACUDAS: Summer Fun
23. SQUEEZE: Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)
24. THE UNDERTONES: Get Over You
I don’t wanna get over this! And I don’t have to. Music has no expiration date, no limit, even when it’s cold outside. Kids just wanna dance. Do anything you wanna do. Gotta have pop. Come on, let’s GO!

If you like what you see here on Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do), please consider supporting this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon, or by visiting CC’s Tip Jar. Additional products and projects are listed here.

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.

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

Fake THIS IS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL RADIO Playlist: The Songs Of BOPPIN’ (LIKE THE HIP FOLKS DO)

I’ve written about a number of albums over the years (especially when I was freelancing for Goldmine), but I’ve always been a single-song guy. Each of the tracks in today’s fake playlist is an individual song that was the focus of a post right here at Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do). Most of them came from my Greatest Record Ever Made! series, though some were originally posted in some other series instead. The curious can follow links to read my original post about each song. Ready to bop? We’ve got some songs for you.

This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl–y’know, the real one–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 all about this show’s long and weird history here: Boppin’ The Whole Friggin’ Planet (The History Of THIS IS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL RADIO). TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS are always welcome.

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

PS: SEND MONEY!!!! We need tech upgrades like Elvis needs boats. Spark Syracuse is supported by listeners like you. Tax-deductible donations are welcome at 
http://sparksyracuse.org/support/

You can follow Carl’s daily blog Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do) at 
https://carlcafarelli.blogspot.com/

Fake TIRnRR Playlist: The Songs Of Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do)

THE MONKEES: I Never Thought It Peculiar

THE RAMONES: Babysitter

BADFINGER: Baby Blue

GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS: Midnight Train To Georgia

THE BARBARIANS: Take It Or Leave It

THE GO-GO’S: Surfing And Spying

WHAM!: Freedom

DUSTY SPRINGFIELD: I Only Want To Be With You

WILSON PICKETT: In The Midnight Hour

NICK LOWE: So It Goes

WANDA JACKSON: Let’s Have A Party

LITTLE RICHARD: The Girl Can’t Help It

MANNIX: Highway Lines

JOHNNY NASH: I Can See Clearly Now

YOKO ONO: Kiss Kiss Kiss

ELTON JOHN: Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting

HEART: Kick It Out

CHUCK BERRY: Promised Land

THE BEATLES: Tell Me Why

THE DAVE CLARK FIVE: Any Way You Want It

MATERIAL ISSUE: Kim The Waitress

PATTI SMITH: Gloria

THE MONKEES: The Girl I Knew Somewhere

LOVE: 7 And 7 Is

BIG STAR: September Gurls

DAVID BOWIE: Life On Mars?

THE RASPBERRIES: I Wanna Be With You

SMOKEY ROBINSON & THE MIRACLES: The Tears Of A Clown

CRAZY ELEPHANT: Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’

MELANIE WITH THE EDWIN HAWKINS SINGERS: Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)

STEVIE WONDER: I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)

THE BUZZCOCKS: Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)

THE SEARCHERS: Hearts In Her Eyes

THE FLASHCUBES: No Promise

THE RAMONES: I Don’t Want To Grow Up

FIRST AID KIT: America

THE KINKS: Waterloo Sunset

THE GRATEFUL DEAD: Uncle John’s Band

THE SMITHEREENS: Behind The Wall Of Sleep

THE WONDERS: That Thing You Do!

THE CASTAWAYS: Liar, Liar

LESLEY GORE: You Don’t Own Me

THE MONKEES: Porpoise Song (Theme From Head)

THE WHO: I Can’t Explain

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: Girls In Their Summer Clothes

GRAND FUNK: We’re An American Band

FREDDIE & THE DREAMERS: Do The Freddie

THE DRIFTERS: On Broadway

THE ROLLING STONES: Happy

THE BEATLES: Thank You, Girl

THE RARE BREED: Beg, Borrow And Steal

THE JAYHAWKS: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me

THE KNICKERBOCKERS: Lies

THE LEFT BANKE: Walk Away, Renee

KISS: Shout It Out Loud

THE BAY CITY ROLLERS: Rock And Roll Love Letter

THE KINKS: You Really Got Me

EYTAN MIRSKY: This Year’s Gonna Be Our Year

My All-Time Top 40 Favorite Tracks

 What are my all-time Top 40 favorite tracks?

It’s a separate discussion from my usual ranting on behalf of my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). The book at least attempts a long view, albeit still a long view shaped by my own taste. The tracks listed here today are tracks I just really, really like. A lot.

The only restriction I placed on this list was a limit of just one track per artist. And I excluded the Beatles; my favorite song is pretty much everything the Beatles released from 1964 through ’66, A Hard Day’s Night through Revolver. If I tried to pick one Beatles selection, it might be the American mix of “Thank You, Girl,” or it might be “No Reply,” or “Rain,” or “The Night Before,” or…see, this is why I’m not pickin’ one. The Fab Four exist outside the parameters of this exercise.

And I’m not ranking my picks; they’re arranged alphabetically by artist. My all-time # 1 is probably Badfinger‘s “Baby Blue,” but everything’s listed here as equals.  Ladies and gentlemen…my all-time Top 40 favorite tracks.

EMERITUS STATUS: THE BEATLES: [1964-1966]

1. THE 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS: You’re Gonna Miss Me

2. THE ANIMALS: It’s My Life

3. P. P. ARNOLD: The First Cut Is The Deepest

4. BADFINGER: Baby Blue

5. THE BAY CITY ROLLERS: Rock And Roll Love Letter

6. THE BEAU BRUMMELS: Laugh Laugh

7. THE BEVIS FROND: He’d Be A Diamond

8. CHUCK BERRY: Promised Land

9. BIG STAR: September Gurls

10. THE DAVE CLARK FIVE: Any Way You Want It

11. THE COCKTAIL SLIPPERS: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

12. NEIL DIAMOND: Solitary Man

13. THE DRIFTERS: On Broadway

14. EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS: Do Anything You  Wanna Do

15. THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES: Shake Some Action

16. THE FLASHCUBES: No Promise

17. THE FOUR TOPS: It’s The Same Old Song

18. FREDDIE AND THE DREAMERS: Do The Freddie

19. THE KINKS: You Really Got Me

20. KISS: Shout It Out Loud

21. THE KNICKERBOCKERS: Lies

22. MARY LOU LORD: Aim Low

23. MANNIX: Highway Lines

24. MATERIAL ISSUE: Kim The Waitress

25. EYTAN MIRSKY: This Year’s Gonna Be Our Year

26. THE MONKEES: Porpoise Song (Theme From Head)

27. THE RAMONES: Sheena Is A Punk Rocker

28. THE RARE BREED: Beg, Borrow And Steal

29. SMOKEY ROBINSON AND THE MIRACLES: The Tears Of A Clown

30. TODD RUNDGREN: Couldn’t I Just Tell You

31. DUSTY SPRINGFIELD: I Only Want To Be With You

32. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: Girls In Their Summer Clothes

33. THE T-BONES: No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)

34. THE TEARJERKERS: Syracuse Summer

35. THE TOYS: May My Heart Be Cast Into Stone

36. TRANSLATOR: Everywhere That I’m Not

37. THE VOGUES: Five O’Clock World

38. THE YARDBIRDS: Heart Full Of Soul

39. THE WHO: I Can’t Explain

40. STEVIE WONDER: Uptight (Everything’s Alright)

And yeah, of course the list would look different if I did it tomorrow. Obviously.

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon, or by visiting CC’s Tip Jar. Additional products and projects are listed here.

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.

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

Categories
Boppin'

THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: Making Time

This was prepared as a chapter for my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1), but is not in that book’s current blueprint. That could change, but for now, here ’tis.

An infinite number of tracks can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Today, this is THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!THE CREATION: Making Time
Written by Kenny Pickett and Eddie Phillips
Produced by Shel Talmy
Single, Planet Records [U. K.], 1966

Power pop. I disagree with the widespread notion that while power pop as a genre may be (MAY be…?!) rooted in the ’60s, it doesn’t really begin until the ’70s. No matter how many knowledgeable pundits express that view, I consider it…well, nonsense may be too strong a dismissal, but…wrong. The viewpoint is incorrect. We’re talking about a sound, an approach to pop music. You can’t limit its discussion to a certain era if there are bona fide examples that predate that era. That would make it a revival. Power pop is not a revival. And we can look to the ’60s for many examples that well predate the Raspberries and Big Star.

Examples like the early Who. Examples like the early Kinks. Examples (in my opinion) like the Beatlesinventing power pop with “Please Please Me.” And examples like “Making Time” by the Creation.

The Creation were a British rock group in the ’60s, and “Making Time” was produced by expatriate Yank Shel Talmy, who knew a thing or two about the style from his work with the Who, the Kinks, and the Easybeats. When I was reading about power pop in Bomp! magazine’s landmark 1978 issue devoted to that particular clarion call, the Creation’s records were among the more elusive sounds cited therein. The Creation had no hits in America, were virtually unknown on these shores, and I had a devil of a time trying to hear any of their music in ’78. I finally found and bought an import 45 at Syracuse’s Desert Shore RecordsArty Lenin, guitarist for Syracuse’s own power pop powerhouse the Flashcubes, was working the counter at Desert Shore that day, trying to interest me in “The Staircase (Mystery)” by Siouxsie and the Banshees. Instead, I purchased a reissue 7″ combining two of the Creation’s signature tunes, “Making Time” and the British hit “Painter Man.”

Both of the songs had been cited in Bomp! as essential power pop; hearing the tracks, I had to agree. Power pop. No matter what decade it was made.

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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

Reopening The Book On THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!

With current work completed on my forthcoming [REDACTED] book, I’ve started turning my attention back to my long-threatened other book, The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). My first order of business really ought to be finding a new agent; I haven’t even started looking for new representation since parting company (reluctantly but amicably) with my previous agent. But working on the book itself is something I can do in the here and now. 

In the past two and a half weeks, I’ve completed GREM! chapters about Tracey UllmanBob DylanOtis ReddingArthur Conleythe Dixie CupsIke and Tina TurnerEddie and the Hot RodsMarykate O’Neil, and the Beatles‘ “Revolution,” restored previously-completed Love and Yoko Ono chapters, worked a little bit more on a still-unfinished chapter about the O’Jays, and tweaked the Linda Ronstadt chapter from a completed piece about the Stone Poneys‘ “Different Drum” into a completed piece about Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” instead. 

As of my last public GREM! update in September, the Dixie Cups, Yoko Ono, Love, and Arthur Conley chapters were not part of the book’s Table of Contents; they are now. I’ve removed previously-planned chapters about the Policethe Shocking BlueTelevision, and Peter, Paul and Mary. I almost restored my chapter about the Romantics, but it’s not in the book’s current blueprint. Completed chapters about the Buzzcocksthe Raspberriesthe Dandy Warholsthe CastawaysDeep Purplethe Only OnesNick LoweWanda Jackson, and Al Hirt that were already out of the book’s TOC remain out of the book now, though any one (or more) of ’em could still be taken off the bench and placed into the line-up. Everything’s in play until the book’s done. 

Yeah, maybe even still in play after I think the book’s done. I tweak therefore I am. Here’s what my working Table of Contents looks like today:

THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (VOLUME 1) 

Table of Contents

FOREWORD

DISCLAIMERS AND DECLARATIONS (A User’s Guide To The Greatest Record Ever Made!)A Fistful Of 45s

OVERTURE THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?

1. BADFINGER: Baby Blue

2. CHUCK BERRY: Promised Land

3. DUSTY SPRINGFIELD: I Only Want To Be With You

4. THE SEX PISTOLS: God Save The Queen

5. ELVIS PRESLEY: Heartbreak Hotel

6. WILLIE MAE “BIG MAMA” THORNTON: Hound Dog

7. PATTI SMITH: Gloria

8. LITTLE RICHARD: The Girl Can’t Help It

9. NEIL DIAMOND: Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show

10. CRAZY ELEPHANT: Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’ 

11. WILSON PICKETT: In The Midnight Hour

12. THE HOLLIES: I Can’t Let Go

13. MELANIE WITH THE EDWIN HAWKINS SINGERS: Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)

14. SAM COOKE: Chain Gang

15. PETULA CLARK: Downtown

16. ARTHUR ALEXANDER: Soldier Of Love

17. TRANSLATOR: Everywhere That I’m Not

18. LESLEY GORE: You Don’t Own Me

19. THE SHANGRI-LAS: Leader Of The Pack

20. THE SHIRELLES: Will You Love Me Tomorrow

21. THE RAMONES: Sheena Is A Punk Rocker

22. AMY RIGBY: Dancing With Joey Ramone

23. PINK FLOYD: Wish You Were Here

24. GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS: Midnight Train To Georgia

25.THE BOBBY FULLER FOUR: I Fought The Law

26. MERLE HAGGARD: Mama Tried

27. THE TEMPTATIONS: Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone

28. BUDDY HOLLY: Peggy Sue/Everyday

29. JOHNNY NASH: I Can See Clearly Now

30. ELTON JOHN: Saturday Night’s Alright For Fightin’

31. SUZI QUATRO: I May Be Too Young

32. ALICE COOPER: School’s Out

33. THE RARE BREED/THE OHIO EXPRESS: Beg, Borrow And Steal

34. THE DIXIE CUPS: Iko Iko

35. ARTHUR CONLEY: Sweet Soul Music

 36. OTIS REDDING: (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay

37. ARETHA FRANKLIN: Respect

INTERLUDE The Monkees Play Their Own Instruments

38. THE MONKEES: Porpoise Song (Theme From Head)

39. PRINCE: When You Were Mine

40. THE 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS: You’re Gonna Miss Me

41. THE ROLLING STONES: Get Off Of My Cloud

42. PAUL REVERE AND THE RAIDERS: Just Like Me

43. BOB DYLAN: Like A Rolling Stone

44. THE KINGSMEN: Louie, Louie

45. BARON DAEMON AND THE VAMPIRES: The Transylvania Twist

46. NELSON RIDDLE: The Batman Theme

47. THE MARVELETTES: I’ll Keep Holding On

48. THE CREATION: Making Time

49. THE WHO: I Can’t Explain

50. TODD RUNDGREN: Couldn’t I Just Tell You

51. SHOES: Tomorrow Night

52. THE FLASHCUBES: No Promise

53. DONNA SUMMER: I Feel Love

54. SMOKEY ROBINSON AND THE MIRACLES: The Tears Of A Clown

55. LOVE: 7 And 7 Is

56. JUDAS PRIEST: Heading Out To The Highway

57. ABBA: Dancing Queen

58. THE NEW YORK DOLLS: Personality Crisis

59. MILLIE SMALL: My Boy Lollipop

60. THE EASYBEATS: Friday On My Mind

61. IKE AND TINA TURNER: River Deep Mountain High

62. THE RONETTES: Be My Baby

63. RONNIE SPECTOR AND THE E STREET BAND: Say Goodbye To Hollywood

64. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: Girls In Their Summer Clothes

65. KISS: Shout It Out Loud

66. THE LEFT BANKE: Walk Away, Renee

67. THE BAY CITY ROLLERS: Rock And Roll Love Letter

68. THE KNICKERBOCKERS: Lies

69. THE WONDERS: That Thing You Do!

70. THE GO-GO’S: We Got The Beat

71. THE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL: Summer In The City

72. VAN HALEN: Dance The Night Away

73. PEGGY LEE: FeverINTERLUDE The Tottenham Sound Of…The Beatles?!

74. THE DAVE CLARK FIVE: Any Way You Want It

75. JAMES BROWN: Please, Please, Please

76. GRAND FUNK: We’re An American Band

77. THE VELVELETTES: He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’

78. WAR: Low Rider

79. THE FIRST CLASS: Beach Baby

80. THE ISLEY BROTHERS: Summer Breeze

81. THE RUBINOOS: I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend

82. THE PANDORAS: It’s About Time

83. P. P. ARNOLD: The First Cut Is The Deepest

84. BIG STAR: September Gurls

85. SAMMY AMBROSE: This Diamond Ring

86. PAUL COLLINS: Walking Out On Love

87. LINDA RONSTADT: You’re No Good

88. THE DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET: Take Five

ENTR’ACTE THE BEATLES: Yesterday

89. THE BEATLES: Revolution

90. THE MC5: Kick Out The Jams

91. THE CHAMBERS BROTHERS: Time Has Come Today

92. MARVIN GAYE: I Heard It Through The Grapevine

93. RAY CHARLES: Hit The Road Jack

94. THE MUFFS: Saying Goodbye

95. YOKO ONO: Kiss Kiss Kiss

96. THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES: Shake Some Action

97. THE CARPENTERS: Only Yesterday

98. MATERIAL ISSUE: Kim The Waitress

99. THE 5TH DIMENSION: Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In (The Flesh Failures)

100. THE JACKSON FIVE: I’ll Be There

101. SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE: Everybody Is A Star

102. JUDY COLLINS: Both Sides Now

103. EMITT RHODES: Fresh As A Daisy

104. THE BANGLES: Live

105. THE SEARCHERS: Hearts In Her Eyes

106. THE HUMAN SWITCHBOARD: (Say No To) Saturday’s Girl

107. THE BYRDS: I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better

INTERLUDE Rick James! Neil Young! Motown Sensations THE MYNAH BIRDS!

108. RICK JAMES: Super Freak

109. THE FLIRTATIONS: Nothing But A Heartache

110. THE SPINNERS: I’ll Be Around

111. TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS: American Girl

112. THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY: I Woke Up In Love This Morning

113. LED ZEPPELIN: Communication Breakdown

114. EDDIE COCHRAN: Somethin’ Else

115. THE BANDWAGON: Breakin’ Down The Walls Of Heartache

116. DON HENLEY: The Boys Of Summer

117. THE CLASH: Train In Vain (Stand By Me)

118. BEN E. KING: Stand By Me

119. GENE PITNEY: Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa

120. RUFUS: Tell Me Something Good

121. THE SPONGETONES: (My Girl) Maryanne

122. THE TRAMMPS: Disco Inferno

123. HAROLD MELVIN AND THE BLUE NOTES: Don’t Leave Me This Way

124. GRANDMASTER AND MELLE MEL: White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)

125. THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: I’ll Be Your Mirror

126. DEL SHANNON: Runaway

127. THE EVERLY BROTHERS: Gone, Gone, Gone

128. THE COCKTAIL SLIPPERS: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

129. FREDDIE AND THE DREAMERS: Do The Freddie

130. SAM AND DAVE: Soul Man

131. BIG BROTHER AND THE HOLDING COMPANY: Piece Of My Heart

132. THE MAYTALS: Pressure Drop

 133. T. REX: 20th Century Boy

134. HEART: Kick It Out

135. THE RUNAWAYS: Cherry Bomb

136. AMERICA: Sister Golden Hair

137. THE KINKS: Waterloo Sunset 

138. THE KINKS: You Really Got Me

139. HOLLY GOLIGHTLY: Time Will Tell

140. THE SMITHEREENS: Behind The Wall Of Sleep

141. THE COWSILLS: She Said To Me

142. ELVIS COSTELLO AND THE ATTRACTIONS: (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?

143. THE FOUR TOPS: Reach Out I’ll Be There

INTERLUDE Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll

144. THE BOB SEGER SYSTEM: 2 + 2 = ?

145. THE JIVE FIVE: What Time Is It?

146. LULU: To Sir, With Love [Museum Outings Montage]

147. FREDA PAYNE: Band Of Gold

148. EARTH, WIND AND FIRE WITH THE EMOTIONS: Boogie Wonderland

149. THE CONTOURS: Do You Love Me

150. BLONDIE: (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear

151. THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS: All For Swinging You Around

152. WHAM!: Freedom

153. THE SUPREMES: You Keep Me Hangin’ On 

154. THE BEACH BOYS: God Only Knows

155. JOAN ARMATRADING: Me Myself I

156. THE SELECTER: On My Radio

157. TRACEY ULLMAN: They Don’t Know

158. MANNIX: Highway Line

159. THE DRIFTERS: On Broadway

160. FIRST AID KIT: America

161. THE FIVE STAIRSTEPS: O-o-h Child

162. SOLOMON BURKE: Everybody Needs Somebody To Love

163. THE JAM: That’s Entertainment

164. THE COASTERS: Yakety Yak

165. CHEAP TRICK: Surrender

166. DAVID BOWIE: Life On Mars?

167. THE O’JAYS: Put Your Hands Together

168. THE GRATEFUL DEAD: Uncle John’s Band

169. EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS: Do Anything You Wanna Do

170. THE PRETENDERS: Back On The Chain Gang

171. JOAN JETT: Bad Reputation

172. STEVIE WONDER: I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)

173. MARYKATE O’NEIL: I’m Ready For My Luck To Turn Around

174. EYTAN MIRSKY: This Year’s Gonna Be Our Year

175. THE JAYHAWKS: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me

An Infinite Number

INTERLUDE

Underrating The Beatles

ENCORE! 

THE BEATLES: Rain

ENCORE!! 

THE T-BONES: No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)Cruisin’ Music

CODA 

THE RAMONES: Blitzkrieg Bop

AFTERWORD

An infinite number of songs can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. I’m feeling an increasing temptation to include a chapter about the Animals; we’ll see.

At this writing, the chapters still in need of a completed first draft are ABBAMillie SmallPeggy Leethe VelvelettesWarthe PandorasP. P. Arnoldthe Chambers BrothersRay Charlesthe Muffsthe 5th DimensionJudy Collinsthe BanglesDon HenleyBig Brother and the Holding Companythe Maytalsthe CowsillsEarth, Wind and Fire with the EmotionsBlondiethe New Pornographersthe SupremesCheap Trick, the O’Jays, and the Pretenders

The rest of it? Done, at least in draft form. Now, I need to finish the rest, and secure some representation for it, not necessarily in that order. It’s time to head back into the infinite.


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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.

THE EVERLASTING FIRST: The Easybeats

Continuing a look back at my first exposure to a number of rock ‘n’ roll acts and superheroes (or other denizens of print or periodical publication), some of which were passing fancies, and some of which I went on to kinda like. They say you never forget your first time; that may be true, but it’s the subsequent visits–the second time, the fourth time, the twentieth time, the hundredth time–that define our relationships with the things we cherish. Ultimately, the first meeting is less important than what comes after that. But every love story still needs to begin with that first kiss.

This was originally posted as part of a longer piece covering both pop music and comic book characters. It’s separated here for convenience.

Building upon our influences plays a large role in shaping who we are, and what we become. As a kid in the ’60s, and as a teenager in the ’70s, my personality, and my likes and dislikes, were molded in part by the pop culture I absorbed via TV, comic books, movies, and AM radio. A Hard Day’s Night. BatmanThe Monkees. Pulp paperbacks. Jukeboxes. DC ComicsMarvel ComicsGold Key Comics, all kinds comics. WNDR-and WOLF-AM in Syracuse. Throw in some baseball, some random 45s, some more TV (from Gilligan’s Island to The Guns Of Will Sonnett to Star Trek to Supersonic), some books on World War II, some DisneyMarx Brothers, and Jerry Lewis flicks, and some surreptitious glances at Lorrie Menconi and Barbi Benton in Playboy, and you have a partial portrait of the blogger as a young man.

Y’know, it ain’t polite to stare, mister!

And throw in some rock ‘n’ roll magazines, too. I’ve already written at length about the importance of the ’70s tabloid Phonograph Record Magazine, and I will still have more to write about PRM in future posts. I saw an issue of Circus some time in the mid-’70s, and I fell in love with Suzi Quatro when I saw her on the cover of the Rolling Stone. Later on, I’d immerse myself in Trouser PressCreemNew York RockerRock ScenePunkThe Pig Paper, and also a little thing called Goldmine, for which I freelanced for almost twenty years. But the most important single issue of any rock mag I ever read? No contest; that was the February 1978 issue Bomp! magazine: the power pop issue.

The way I read and re-read and re-re-read that issue, it’s a miracle its cover is still attached. I was 18. I was a fan of The BeatlesThe MonkeesThe KinksThe Raspberries, and The Ramones. I’d just seen The Flashcubes for the first time, so I was already a fan of theirs, too. The power pop issue of Bomp! was Heaven-sent, a manifesto for what I already believed, but couldn’t yet articulate. And its pages contained scores of recommendations for more acts I should check out as a nascent power pop acolyte, bands like The Flamin’ Groovies (whom I’d already heard, but needed to hear more), The CreationThe Dwight Twilley Band, and The Nerves; and there was quite a bit of coverage of some band called Big Star, and some group from the ’60s: an Australian band named The Easybeats.

Greg Shaw and Gary Sperrazza!, the auteurs behind Bomp!‘s power pop extravaganza, cited The Easybeats alongside The Kinks and The Who as power pop’s founding fathers. That’s pretty heady company to keep, so I certainly wanted to learn more about The Easybeats. If there were any Easybeats records in print in the U.S. in ’78, I wasn’t aware of them; I don’t think I could even find an Oldies 45 reissue of the group’s lone American hit, “Friday On My Mind.” So Easy Fever had to be deferred for me.

It may seem odd in retrospect that I’d never heard “Friday On My Mind,” but I don’t think I had. I finally heard it in–I think–the summer of ’78. Tip-A-Few, a bar on James Street in Eastwood, specialized in playing oldies while thirsty patrons tipped a few (or, sometimes, more than a few). The DJs at Tip-A-Few were armed with a massive collection of 45s–no need for LPs, because they would only play hit oldies–and I was there with decent frequency, tippin’ a few while requesting singles by Gene Pitney, The Beau BrummelsThe Knickerbockers, and The Fireballs. And, one night, I requested “Friday On My Mind” by The Easybeats.

I liked it, of course, It wasn’t immediately revelatory, but it was catchy rock ‘n’ roll music, and that was fine by me. That fall, I picked up a used copy of David Bowie‘s covers album, Pin Ups, which contained the former Mr. Jones’ take on “Friday On My Mind.” That track was, in fact, the very thing that prompted me to buy my first Bowie album, so yes indeed, thank you, Easybeats! I did eventually score an Oldies 45 of The Easybeats’ “Friday On My Mind,” a record which I grew to love more and more with each easy spin.

It took me a while to expand my Easybeats stash beyond that one 7″ single. In the mid-’80s, Rhino Records‘ The Best Of The Easybeats rewarded me with a glimpse into the true and enduring greatness of The Easybeats. “Friday On My Mind” was their only Stateside hit, and on some days I’ll agree it was their best track. But most days, I’ll dig in my heels, and I’ll insist, Yeah, “Friday On My Mind” is great, but “Sorry” is better!  “Sorry” struck me as the perfect melding of The Monkees and the early Who, so sign me up for a new religion based on those Australian pop gods, The Easybeats. “Good Times.” “Made My Bed (Gonna Lie In It).” “St. Louis.” “She’s So Fine.” “Sorry.” “Friday On My Mind.” Scripture. Chapter. Verse. Easy!

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Is Beatles VI Really My All-Time Favorite Album?

Is Beatles VI really my all-time favorite album? Yes it is, yes it is, yes it is, oh yes it is. Yeah. More or less. Lemme ‘splain.

My favorite body of work in all of pop music remains the stuff The Beatles released from 1964 through 1966, basically A Hard Day’s Night through Revolver, that monolithic opening chord through the hypnotic fadeout of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” I adore the Fabness that preceded this period, and I do love Sgt. Pepper and beyond, too. But The Beatles, ’64 to ’66? There’s just something about that run that knocks me out, without fail, without apology. Of course there’s other great music I want to hear alongside that–I want to hear Pet SoundsThe RamonesChuck BerryWilson PickettThe KinksP. P. ArnoldThe MonkeesBig StarThe Isley BrothersThe FlashcubesThe Sex PistolsKISSBowieLuluLittle RichardDusty SpringfieldPrinceThe Bay City RollersThe JamFreddie and the DreamersABBAThe Four TopsSuzi Quatro, and…and…TURN IT UP!!

Where was I? Oh, right. Pop music. My point is that, for all the terrific, transcendent sounds I wanna hear again and again and again, if some chuckleheaded cosmic edict forced me to to limit myself to an endless loop of just one brief snippet of a rockin’ pop c.v., I would select John, Paul, George, and Ringo, after ’63, before ’67. Final answer.

There are specific points of division among Beatles fans. The White Album, for example. But Sgt. Pepper would seem to be the defining line of demarcation between advocates of exuberant Beatle pop and apostles of mature Beatle Rock (mit einem capital R). Abbey Road is in the latter group, Rubber Soul in the former, that album’s relative maturity notwithstanding. I love the latter group; I worship the former.

There are still lines within lines. Among those who may favor The Beatles’ work before Sgt. Pepper, the emphasis is often on 1966. And man, it’s difficult to argue with that. Rubber Soul was released at the very end of 1965, so it’s really a 1966 album by most consideration. Beatles ’66 includes both Rubber Soul and Revolver, two perennial candidates for Best Album Ever. 1966 is the natural habitat of “Nowhere Man” and the non-LP “Paperback Writer,” irresistible singles that further the argument on behalf of ’66; a 45 B-side, “Rain,” is The Greatest Record Ever Made. With Rubber SoulRevolver, “Nowhere Man,” “Paperback Writer,” and “Rain,” it is perhaps understandable that 1966 dominates the discussion of The Beatles before Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.

Few will speak as fervently on behalf of the group’s output prior to Rubber Soul. The work isn’t dismissed outright–that would be dumb–but it’s not held in as high regard as the perceived masterpieces of 1966, or ’67, et cetera. But me? Although I adamantly include 1966 within my toppermost/poppermost, I insist that the wonder of ’64 and ’65 belongs right up there with it.

I confess that I’m tempted to go back even further, to include the 1963 releases. I’m happy to exclude the 1962 debut single, “Love Me Do,” which is fine but nothing really special. “Please Please Me” invents power pop in ’63, and the immediate, incandescent rush of Beatlemania–“I Saw Her Standing There,” “Twist And Shout,” “She Loves You,” “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “All My Loving”–is a palpable thrill from that second forward. There are days when I believe “Please Please Me” or “Thank You, Girl” (in its 1964 U.S. Capitol mix) must be The Greatest Record Ever Made, a title which an infinite number of the very finest records can claim, as long as they take turns.

But no: 1964. A Hard Day’s Night. The music The Beatles crafted for their feature film debut is a quantum leap beyond, embracing the moptopped frenzy of utter global domination and running into an open field with a triumphant exclamation. We’re out! Top of the world, lads. A few of the songs on the soundtrack–“A Hard Day’s Night,” “I Should Have Known Better,” “If I Fell,” “And I Love Her”–already exude an unexpected maturity within a pure pop framework, and the same could be said of “You Can’t Do That” and “I’ll Cry Instead,” written and recorded contemporary to the movie, but not used therein. This is not to slight the other soundtrack tunes; ain’t nothing wrong with “Can’t Buy Me Love,” the Dave Clark Five pastiche “Tell Me Why,” or the infectious “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You,” which are (at worst) part and parcel of the transition from Great to GREAT, and even that sells ’em short. Your drive-my-car mileage may vary. As 1964 careens into ’65, our Fab Four work with producer George Martin to become something…other. Something greater. To me, this is the very essence of the best of The Beatles. The tracks on the Help! soundtrack in 1965 are just incredible, as is the “We Can Work It Out”/”Day Tripper” 45. Moving to ’66 again, the American hodgepodge LP Yesterday And Today (released between Rubber Soul and Revolver) is mostly scrumptious leftovers from ’65 and ’66 (including “Day Tripper,” “We Can Work It Out,” and “Nowhere Man,” George’s Byrds-like “If I Needed Someone,” and Paul’s obscure ditty “Yesterday”). Honestly, I can’t imagine a more riveting collection of pop music than what The Beatles did in this magic span of ’64 to ’66.

And we’ve deliberately skipped past a couple of albums that are at the heart of it all for me, two crass commercial repackages slapped together by Capitol Records in ’64 and ’65, a pair of nearly-sequential releases (separated by The Early Beatles, itself a repackage of ’62-’63 Beatles tracks Capitol had once rejected) that are my All-Time Top Two: Beatles ’65 and Beatles VI.

If I’d been born in the U.K. rather than the U.S.A., it’s likely my view on specific Fave Rave Beatles albums would be at least slightly different. I was raised on the American LPs, which are not the same as even their nearest British equivalents. My pal Rich Firestone has asked me if I could consider the British Beatles For Sale album my favorite, since it contains almost all of the best material from both Beatles ’65 and Beatles VI. He’s right, of course–Rich is right a lot of the time–and objectively Beatles For Sale ought to be my favorite Beatles album. But I can’t quite relinquish the history and emotional attachment I have to those two American hatchet-jobs. I love ’em. I love ’em in all their mutant, misbegotten, glorious splendor. And Beatles For Sale doesn’t have the Larry Williams covers, “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” and “Bad Boy.”

British pop LPs at the time offered a more generous number of tracks per album than a stingy American record company would care to match. The Beatles native label Parlophone was no exception, and Capitol was likewise as stingy as any other Yank label. U.K. albums with fourteen tracks routinely became American albums with eleven tracks. Combining this creative shuffling with various single sides that were non-LP in England allowed Capitol to streeeeeeetch its Beatles supply into more product. Beatles For Sale was The Beatles’ fourth album; its U.S. counterpart Beatles ’65 was Capitol’s fifth Beatles album (counting the documentary cash-in The Beatles’ Story), and Capitol by that point hadn’t yet released any version of the group’s debut LP Please Please Me. By the time Help! was released in England as The Beatles’ fifth album, the American version (which was half Beatles, half Ken Thorne soundtrack music) was Capitol’s eighth Beatles album. Take that, Colonials!

Although I give the edge to Beatles VI in my fave album coronation, I do regard Beatles ’65 as part of that album’s story and glory. Side One of Beatles ’65 duplicates the sequence of the first six songs on Beatles For Sale: the incredible “No Reply,” followed by “I’m A Loser,” “Baby’s In Black,” Chuck Berry’s “Rock And Roll Music” (the first Chuck Berry song I ever heard), “I’ll Follow The Sun,” and the much-maligned Dr. Feelgood cover “Mr. Moonlight.” That is one hell of a great rock ‘n’ roll album side, even if Capitol did cut and save the final song on Beatles For Sale‘s first side (The Beatles’ take on “Kansas City”) for Beatles VI. And even if so many people seem to think “Mr. Moonlight” was the worst track The Beatles ever released; like it! Side Two of Beatles ’65 grabs two Carl Perkins covers from Beatles For Sale (“Honey Don’t” and “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby”) with both sides of the “I Feel Fine”/”She’s A Woman” single and “I’ll Be Back” from the British version of A Hard Day’s Night.

Beatles ’65 is great. Beatles VI is greater. This album is just flawless, from its performances to the compelling rockin’ pop ambiance of its sequencing. The album opens with “Kansas City” (later re-titled “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!” to reflect that it’s a cover of Little Richard’s medley of the two songs); it closes with the majestic “Every Little Thing,” as pure and uplifting a pop track as The Beatles ever did. It takes all of the remaining six tracks from Beatles For Sale–“Kansas City,” “Eight Days A Week,” a sublime reading of Buddy Holly‘s “Words Of Love” (first Buddy Holly song I ever heard), “Every Little Thing,” “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party,” and “What You’re Doing”–adds a couple of songs from the British version of Help! (“Dizzy Miss Lizzy” and “Tell Me What You See”), the first appearance anywhere of The Beatles’ romp through “Bad Boy,” and the “Ticket To Ride” B-side “Yes It Is.”

While this could all be a Philistine’s recipe for artless background music, it is somehow perfect anyway. Each track is precisely where it should be. “Kansas City” bops with sure foot and steady gaze into the breezy AM sound of “Eight Days A Week,” the casual confidence of “You Like Me Too Much,” the raucous rave of “Bad Boy,” the unforgettable assimilation of everything The Everly Brothers knew remade by Lennon and McCartney as “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party,” and the sheer magic of “Words Of Love,” one of the two finest Holly covers ever done. (Before you ask: The Rolling Stones‘ “Not Fade Away.”) Side Two continues the victory lap, with the snappin’ “What You’re Doing,” the nearly crooning “Yes It Is,” the incandescent “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” and finally the pristine eins-zwei pop sweetness of “Tell Me What You See” and “Every Little Thing.”

Goosebumps. Even more than five decades later, now and forevermore: goosebumps.

I know that this period of The Beatles’ recorded legacy is not in the highest favor. Beatles For Sale is considered a lesser effort, an exercise in exhaustion manufactured on corporate demand as The Beatles did everything they could to avoid crumpling under the pressure of the mania they’d generated. The two American LPs it spawned are held in even greater disregard. I still insist they deserve better recognition.

Is Beatles VI really my all-time favorite album? Essentially, it is. I fudge the answer a bit by also talking about Beatles ’65, and my ultimate imaginary 2-LP Beatles album would likely be a combination of the two that also includes the Beatle tracks from the U.S. version of Help!–I needs me some “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” and “The Night Before,” too. If Beatles VI were a 14-track British single LP, I’d shoehorn in ’65 For Sale‘s “No Reply,” “I’ll Follow The Sun,” and “Rock And Roll Music” to make a perfect album perfecter. In reality, I’ll just keep on listening to everything The Beatles did from 1964 through 1966. But if I gotta pick one real-world LP, then Beatles VI it is. Honestly, there just isn’t any album I love more than that one.

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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.

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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.