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Unfinished And Abandoned digs deeeeep into my unpublished archives, and exhumes projects that I started (sometimes barely started) but abandoned, unfinished.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

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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.

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

The Split Squad / Another Cinderella

The Split Squad

Another Cinderella

https://thesplitsquad.bandcamp.com/album/another-cinderella

A bona fide supergroup, The Split Squad stars the indelible talents of Keith Streng (The Fleshtones), Eddie Munoz (The Plimsouls), Clem Burke (Blondie, The Romantics, The Empty Hearts), Michael Giblin (Cherry Twister) and Josh Kantor (The Boston Red Sox). After several years of taking a sabbatical from the studio, the band has returned with fire in their bellies and ants in their pants. The Split Squad are so smoking hot to begin with, but on their new – and second album – Another Cinderella – they sound meaner and keener than ever. 

The engine revs up with Hey DJ, which represents all the tasty traits we love about heritage power pop. Acrobatic and explosive instrumentation, radiant vocals and a punchy swing seal the song. In fact, Another Cinderella is chock-full of such power popping dazzlers. Relentlessly gripping, Trying To Get Back To My Baby races to a sweeping cadence and gleaming melodies, where the title track of the album bristles and bobs with muscle and might, topped by charmingly girly harmonies. And then there’s Sinking Ship, which is anything but, as electrifying guitars, vigorous drumming and seizing hooks snap the high-energy tune firmly into place. A power ballad rather than power pop, As Bright As You Are beams with divine piano work, liquid clear vocals and exquisite string arrangements. 

Ripping a page in the book from both The Beatles and The Who, the stunning Taxicab wheels in as a trippy slice of pop art innovation, and Palpitation Blues is a down and dirty blues number, chugging with gruff vocals, groaning rhythms and hard-hitting harmonica trills rooted along the lines of Beggar’s Banquet-era Rolling Stones. Comparisons to KISS are sure to be drawn on Showstopper, a loud and lively arena-ready rocker formed of clanging chords and a shouting chorus. The grand finale is a reprise of Hey DJ,  that adopts a danceable Motown-styled soul pop stance with brass orchestration added to the setting. 

By combining experience with enthusiasm, The Split Squad conceived the perfect classic pop rock platter. Jammed tight with killer chops, catchy vocals galore and on target timing, Another Cinderella captures the band at the height of their prowess. Here’s to a standing ovation!  

Categories
Pop Sunday

Tall Poppy Syndrome / Come Some Christmas Eve (or Halloween)

Tall Poppy Syndrome

Come Some Christmas Eve (or Halloween)

https://tallpoppysyndrome.bandcamp.com/album/come-some-christmas-eve-or-halloween

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and there is no better way to celebrate than with a song by a certified supergroup. 

Comprised of guitarist Vince Melouney (who held membership in The Bee Gees during the late sixties), drummer Clem Burke (Blondie, the Romantics, the Empty Hearts), bassist Alec Palao (The Sneetches, Magic Christian, Strangers In A Strange Land, current version of The Seeds and music historian), Jigsaw Seen multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Lea and singer Paul Kopf (Strangers In A Strange Land and the revamped Seeds), Tall Poppy Syndrome not only looks good in print, but as a whole, they really lock it altogether.

Originally recorded in 1968 by The Bee Gees and initially titled Come Some Christmas Eve Or Halloween, Tall Poppy Syndrome cut a cover of the song in October that set the indie airwaves alight. A holiday mix of the number was suggested, and so here it is, garnished with a festive flair.

Sparked by a drizzle of glistening sleighbells, Come Some Christmas Eve  proceeds to wrap itself in a brightly-colored package of radiant designs and textures. Pithy power chords, anchored percussion, the trill of a Mellotron flute and harmonious rhythms rise to the occassion. Classic garage rock vocals, relaying just the right blend of raw saltiness and melodic muscle, serve to be a faultless fit.

Tapped as Tall Poppy Syndrome’s official debut disc, Come Some Christmas Eve catches the band getting off to a great start. Each individual brings his own special touch to the table, leading towards a smashing display of psychedelic-ringed pop rock. One can only imagine how fantastic an entire album by Tall Poppy Syndrome would be. So give your support to Come Some Christmas Eve and encourage the band to keep at it. 

Categories
Boppin'

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.


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.

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.

Categories
Boppin'

THE EVERLASTING FIRST: The Romantics

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 story still needs to begin with that first kiss.

Have you ever bought a record you had never previously heard, performed by an act you had never previously heard of?

I’m not talking about a record by a new act that includes a performer you’d experienced elsewhere (like when I recognized Paul Collins from The Nerves and scarfed up the debut LP by Collins’ then-new group The Beat), or a review you read somewhere prompting you to take a chance on the unfamiliar (like when Rolling Stone compared an act to BlondieThe Buzzcocks, and The Ramones, compelling me to purchase the debut album by The Darling Buds). No. I’m talkin’ tabula rasa, baby. You’ve never heard the music. You’ve never heard of the band. But money changes hands anyway, and this new music is now yours.

That’s how I discovered The Romantics.

My memory may be imprecise. I’ll concede the possibility that I read about The Romantics in Bomp! magazine before I bought my first Romantics record, but I’m pretty sure it was record first, write-up later. I do know that I can’t claim full credit for stumbling upon the record unassisted. The guy behind the counter at the record store pointed it for me.

It was in the spring of 1978. I was a freshman in college at Brockport, NY, and a budding power-pop punk with a musical mania for the 1960s, the British Invasion, The MonkeesThe Sex Pistols, and The Ramones. I’d recently discovered my Syracuse hometown heroes The Flashcubes, and I was constantly on the prowl for MORE! A cool place called The Record Grove was Brockport’s vinyl oasis, managed by a true believer named Bill Yerger. This was about a year or so before Bill opened his own emporium, Main Street Records, the best little record store there ever was. Bill was a huge fan of rockin’ pop music, he knew his stuff, and he knew how to steer kindred spirits toward the record we needed to own, even if we didn’t know it yet.

Although I was perpetually cash-strapped, I visited The Record Grove as often as I could, and bought what I could afford when I could afford it. Bill had a small display box of import and indie 45s for sale at the counter, the box from which I’d purchased my first Ramones and Sex Pistols records during the previous semester. On this particular spring ’78 visit, Bill recalled that I’d recently bought an EP by the British power pop act The Pleasers, a record I’d snapped up on impulse, drawn in by The Pleasers’ overtly Beatley image and the presence of a song called “Lies” (not The Knickerbockers‘ hit, I’m sorry to say). Bill asked me if I’d liked The Pleasers, and I said something like, Yeah, they weren’t bad. Not as good as The Knickerbockers, but I like ’em all right. Maybe Bill already had his next move planned, or maybe it was prompted by my mention of The Knickerbockers. Either way, he said, Well, if you liked that, I bet you’ll like this, too.
And Bill pulled out “Little White Lies”/”I Can’t Tell You Anything,” the debut single from Detroit’s Phenomenal Pop Combo, The Romantics. Awright, then. Just take my money, Bill. Just take it.

My roommate and I were increasingly at odds by this point, so I don’t know if he let me play my newest 7″ vinyl treasure on his stereo, or if I had to wait until a school break to hear the damned thing for the first time back home. Whatever whenever, I immediately dug both sides of this Romantics record, way more than I liked The Pleasers. “Little White Lies” just seemed to combust on the stereo, a pyrotechnic display of pure pop played fast ‘n’ swaggering. “I Can’t Tell You Anything” hijacked a Bo Diddley beat to craft a basic pounder that simultaneously (and incongruously) evoked both The Raspberries and The Rolling Stones. Magnificence times two, and I was duly hooked. When I finally did read about The Romantics in Bomp!, the write-up referenced “Can’t You See That She’s Mine” by my Tottenham Sound lads The Dave Clark Five. But of course.

I listened to a lot of music during the summer of 1978. My parents let me move my little stereo and my growing record collection into the living room; they were away for much of that summer, so I was able to play my rock ‘n’ roll platters with a bit more volume than might have otherwise been likely. I had a part-time job, I saw The Flashcubes as often as I could, and I let the records spin freely: KinksSeedsBobby Fuller FourThe JamGeneration XKISSHerman’s HermitsEddie & the Hot RodsRich KidsRunawaysStandellsBeau Brummels, Monkees, Beatles, Ramones, Pistols, Tom PettyBuddy Holly, Raspberries. The Pleasers, too–I did like them, just not as much as I liked The Romantics. Both sides of my Romantics 45 saw significant turntable time throughout that season.

As summer surrendered its space to my sophomore year at Brockport, I saw that The Romantics were coming to Syracuse for a show with The Flashcubes, and it would be at my favorite nightspot The Firebarn. It would also be my first week back at school, and there was no way I would be able to see that show. The Romantics played Syracuse dates with The Flashcubes on several occasions in this era (and the ‘Cubes also traveled to Detroit to return the favor), but always when I was away at school. I never did have an opportunity to see The Romantics play until decades later.

I remained a fan. I bought their second single, “Tell It To Carrie”/”First In Line,” mail-order from Bomp!, and I scored another Romantics track called “Let’s Swing” on the Bomp Records compilation album Waves Vol. 1 (an LP that also included “Christi Girl” by The Flashcubes). As my third and final year in college beckoned in August of 1979, local rock station 95X started playing “When I Look In Your Eyes,” an advance track from The Romantics’ forthcoming major label debut. That eponymous debut featured another new track, “What I Like About You.” Maybe you’ve heard of it…?

It cracks me up that so many folks think of The Romantics as a one-hit wonder for “What I Like About You.” The Romantics are so much more than one song, and that one song wasn’t even their biggest hit; that would be “Talking In Your Sleep” (# 3 in Billboard), and “One In A Million” also fared better chartwise (# 37) than “What I Like About You.” In fact, “What I Like About You” missed the Top 40 entirely (# 49), but it became a retroactive and enduring Fave Rave a few years after the fact, thanks to the power of a new, content-hungry entity called MTV. They were all hits in my mind anyway.

Sometimes, when a rock ‘n’ roll act you discovered ahead of the pack subsequently achieves mainstream success, you may feel a temptation to dismiss the more popular work, to sniff and insist that you liked ’em not only before they were famous, but before they, y’know, sold out, man! While it is true that, in my opinion, The Romantics’ major-label efforts never quite equaled the sheer punch of “Little White Lies”/”I Can’t Tell You Anything,” it is also true that I’ve loved The Romantics’ work across the span of their career. I love “When I Look In Your Eyes” and “What I Like About You,” I dig “One In A Million” and “Talking In Your Sleep” and “Rock You Up,” their incredible cover of the Richard & the Young Lions nugget “Open Up Your Door,” plus “Test Of Time,” “National Breakout,” and a fantastic, unreleased cover of The Spencer Davis Group‘s “Keep On Running.” Hell, I even like their 1981 hard rock album Strictly Personal–“In The Nighttime” just kicks, man!–and virtually nobody likes that record except me and Flashcubes guitarist Paul Armstrong

After years and years of missed opportunities, I finally saw The Romantics at an outdoor sports-bar show in the mid ’90s. Yeah, I would have preferred to see them at The Firebarn, but it was still a thrill. They opened with an authoritative cover of The Pretty Things‘ “Midnight To Six Man,” and I’m sure you can guess what song closed the show. I don’t believe that I will ever tire of hearing “What I Like About You,” nor will I tire of the lesser-known gems to be found throughout The Romantics’ stellar c.v. More than forty years ago, my friend Bill Yerger introduced me to the music of The Romantics, and they were but one of many pop treasures Bill pointed out for me. Bill Yerger passed away in the late ’90s. Bill, if you can read this across the veil that separates our world from yours, lemme tell ya: the inspiration you provided drives me to this day. That’s what I like about you.

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Categories
Got Any Singles?

Got Any Singles? Mike Skill, Pop 4 and Kevin Robertson

Mike Skill 

So Soul Alone

mikeskill.com/records

Over the years, The Romantics have superbly combined elements of jangle, power pop and garage rock into their own thing. A lot of their sound has to do with the stellar guitar work (and bass work after Rich Cole left the band) of Mike Skill, an indie guitar hero, if ever there was one.

Skill’s new single, available on Spotify, is a gruff piece of slinky pop that sounds remarkably like 1966-67. Not quite as polished as The Beatles, but certainly tighter and punchier than groups like Them or The Troggs, So Soul Alone brings to mind cool girls in mod fashion, dancing in all-night basement clubs. More, please.

***

Pop 4

(Love Is) Thicker Than Water

https://currycuts.bandcamp.com/album/higher-than-a-mountain-the-songs-of-andy-gibb

Really, there are a lot of great reasons to buy Curry Cuts’ tribute to Andy Gibb, but Pop 4’s take on (Love Is) Thicker Than Water is an absolutely stellar reason. While this whole band has got the vocal goods, Andrea Perry, one of our favorites, steals the show. Can anything sound as good as her voice double-tracked? I doubt it.

After you check out this tune, I highly recommend taking a trip through the back catalog of both Pop 4 and Andrea Perry. You will not be disappointed.

***

Kevin Robertson

Into The Black

https://kevinrobertson.bandcamp.com/album/sundowns-end

Nobody does jangle pop better than The Vapor Trails’ Kevin Robertson. Here, on his debut solo Lp, he manages to channel the charm of The Hollies and The Searchers, with the clever pop crispness of XTC. If you can listen to Into The Black without becoming a massive fan, then something is wrong with you.

Cheers also to Robertson’s co-conspirator, drummer and producer Nick Bertling, who always seems to know the perfect amount of living room to leave on the record.

***

By Dan Pavelich

Bruce Moody / Forever Fresh

Bruce Moody

Forever Fresh! (Counterfeit Records 2020)

https://brucemoody.bandcamp.com/album/forever-fresh

 
Vocalist, songwriter and multiple-instrumentalist Bruce Moody began his professional music career as a teenager in the late sixties. Circus, Walkee Talkee and The Private Numbers are just a brief mention of some of the bands he performed with. His resume further entails a solo career, recording at Norm Petty’s legendary studio in Clovis, New Mexico, and session work with Willie Nelson and Mickey Gilley.

Bruce retired from music in 1991 to raise a family, but was never forgotten by his devoted legion of fans. So here it is, three decades on, and Forever Fresh!, a collection of  predominately previously unreleased material from 1979 to 1986 is now available. Bruce’s good friend Terry Carolan – who most of you know from bands like True Hearts, Blue Cartoon and Heirs Of Fortune – assisted in the remastering of the project and appears on a handful of songs.

 Had these tunes been issued at the moment they were produced, there is no doubt they would have volleyed straight to the top of the charts. Bruce’s pitch perfect pipes, matched by plump and pealing guitar chords and clusters of clasping hooks, encompass everything there is to love about classic AM radio. Solid compositional techniques, and the ability to deliver the songs with confidence and conviction also smack of star quality.

 A high energy expedition from start to finish, Forever Fresh! is the kind of album begging to be listened to at maximum volume when cruising the sights on a warm.and sunny Sunday afternoon with the windows wide open. Be it the aching bounce of This Is It, the slapping groove of Survival or the purebred power popping punch of glistening gems such as Don’t Look Back For Me, One Desire and Simple Love, you’ll find yourself humming along with happiness. 

Etched of rounded rhythms, jarring breaks and levitating harmonies, both You Do and Gotta Move Away echo the early efforts of The Who, the finely textured Rainy Day shifts and swerves with ravishing melodies, and Terminally Hip features a jumpy tenor and concludes to a nice little rocking jam.

 Due to the period the songs on Forever Fresh!  were conceived, new wave elements – involving tottering keyboards and a sheen of polish – are additionally part of the program. Following the scriptures of The Rubinoos, The Knack and The Romantics, Bruce wedded his passion for sixties pop to a modern edge, leading towards a repertoire of enduring and exciting sounds. Considering the positive response Fresh Forever! has received, perhaps a fire has been lit under Bruce and we can expect more great music from him in the near future. 

Categories
Pop Sunday

Dan Markell / Zoom In

Dan Markell

Zoom In (Fermada Nowhere Music 2021)

 The last time we heard from Dan Markell was this past holiday season, when “Comin’ Up On Christmas” filled our solemn social-distancing hearts with holly jolly joy. The Southern California vocalist, tunesmith and multi-instrumentalist has now returned to the front lines with yet another supreme single. 

Braiding reggae rhythms with new wave sensibilities, “Zoom In” sounds like the Police joining forces with the Talking Heads and Devo. Propelled by a choppy clip and twitchy hooks, the perpetually catchy song revisits early eighties cutting.edge imagery with dead on precision. Hurl a danceable beat and a sing-a-long chorus of major proportions into the pie, and you’ve got a surefire smash.

 
As if you didn’t already know, Dan has quite an interesting background. Not only has he released a couple of great studio albums – “Big Ideas” and “Eleven Shades Of Dan Markell” – but has also worked with esteemed artists such as guitarist Jeff Healey, former Wings drummer Denny Seiwell and members of the Romantics, Blondie and the Standells. Film and television production further completes Dan’s portfolio. 

It is always a treat to hear music from Dan, and the rock steady skinny tie pop of “Zoom In”  proves to be a natural extension of his stellar track record.