power pop

The contents of this page relate to power pop.

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs: Under the Covers Vol 2 (Shock)

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs: Under the Covers Vol 2 (Shock)

The previous album by this hugely underrated power pop/rock singer songwriter and the former Bangle was a snapshot of their favourite Sixties songs (by the Beatles, Dylan, Neil Young, Stone Ponies, Who and so on) under the banner of Sid'n'Susie. Here they undertake the diversity of the Seventies which means power pop (a rather mundane...

PETE HAM OF BADFINGER: Take a sad song and make it sadder

PETE HAM OF BADFINGER: Take a sad song and make it sadder

Put simply: Pete Ham was one of the singer-songwriters in Badfinger, the British pop band of the late Sixties and early Seventies which enjoyed the patronage of Paul McCartney. He gave them his Come and Get It (used in the Ringo-Peter Sellers movie The Magic Christian) on the condition they record it exactly as his demo. They did, it...

Shoes: Tomorrow Night (1978)

Shoes: Tomorrow Night (1978)

In that great alphabet of power pop kicked off by the Beatles and which includes Badfinger, Big Star, Cheap Trick and so on, the Shoes out of Zion, Illinois are perhaps the least known today. That doesn't mean they are forgotten or won't be rediscovered however: the Elektra bio which came with their major label debut Present Tense noted that...

The Searchers: Love's Melody (1980)

The Searchers: Love's Melody (1980)

Despite the durability of Gerry and the Pacemakers' Ferry Cross the Mersey, there is little question that the most successful group out of Liverpool in the Sixties -- aside from that other one -- was the Searchers. In the wake of the Beatles there were a dozen or so bands who rode into the charts -- Gerry, The Big Three, Billy J Kramer and...

The Twitch: Time for Change (Rangi)

The Twitch: Time for Change (Rangi)

The album title is slightly misleading: if it is a time for change then acccording to Auckland's Twitch it is back to the future -- back to stabbing post-punk power-pop with a sharp New Wave delivery. Rock'n'roll Mirror could have come from any time in the past three decades: a touch of metal in the guitar chords, a boastful Joan Jett-style...

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Mojo (Reprise)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Mojo (Reprise)

My take on Tom Petty -- most of whose albums in the first decade or more I cherished with a passion, but had misfortunes with the man -- is that when he hooked up with the Traveling Wilburys he became prematurely geriatric and he lost his rock edge. This is a theory which doesn't bear much serious scrutiny perhaps (I was "wrong"...

Crowded House and Roger McGuinn: Eight Miles High (1989)

Crowded House and Roger McGuinn: Eight Miles High (1989)

Recorded live at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles when Crowded House met up with former Byrd Roger McGuinn, this song -- and their versions of Mr Tambourine Man and So You Want to be a Rock'n'Roll Star -- appeared on a '91 version of the CD single for Weather With You (other versions had live Crowdies tracks from the period). Not the most...

The Gaslight Anthem: American Slang (Shock)

The Gaslight Anthem: American Slang (Shock)

Normallly an amalgam of early Springsteen/E Street Band energy, Bob Seger committment, the Replacements' punky thrash and Tom Petty's way with a lyric and melody would have been right up my street -- but while  Brian Fallon writes good, appropriately "mythic" songs and sings them with throat-aching passion there is something just...

The Flys: Love and a Molotov Cocktail (1978)

The Flys: Love and a Molotov Cocktail (1978)

1977 was a confusing year in Britain: pub-rockers Dr Feelgood were at an all-time peak, the Sex Pistols, the Clash and others advanced the punk agenda, and off on the margins were power-pop bands which hadn't quite seen the changes coming. The four-piece Flys out of Coventry -- a little distant from the London scene -- were in the latter...

ROGER GUINN, BACK FROM RIO (1991): The return flyte

ROGER GUINN, BACK FROM RIO (1991): The return flyte

When Jim McGuinn changed his name to Roger in ’67 during a period of chaos without and within for The Byrds, there were those who thought it was an elaborate hoax. Jim had taken off to Rio and been replaced by his lookalike brother, said Paul-is-Dead paranoids and conspiracy theorists. Hence the wry in-joke title on his album Back...

EDGEPLAY; A FILM ABOUT THE RUNAWAYS by Victory Tischler-Blue (Shock DVD, 2004)

EDGEPLAY; A FILM ABOUT THE RUNAWAYS by Victory Tischler-Blue (Shock DVD, 2004)

Clearly timed to ride the coattails of the film The Runaways about this seminal all-girl band of the the Seventies which launched the careers of Joan Jett and Lita Ford and (based on the memoir Neon Angel by lead singer Cherie Currie), the re-presentation of a doco made by the band's former bassist Vicky Blue should be an object lesson in...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Justin Currie: The Great War (Ryko/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Justin Currie: The Great War (Ryko/Southbound)

Some of these songs heard at a distance -- just the sharp pop and guitar jangle coming through -- and you'd pin Justin Currie as a smart power pop singer-songwriter who might give the charts some real damage. But my guess is most people don't want emotional pessimism, venomous songs about partners and a seething rage bordering on...

Luke Jackson: . . . And Then Some (Popsicle)

Luke Jackson: . . . And Then Some (Popsicle)

After a mention of the late Robert Kirby's string arrangements in a review of the Magic Numbers' The Runaway, this Canadian singer-songwriter with a well-stamped passport got in touch: he too had benefited from Kirby's smart touch. And he sent on a copy of this album which opens with a classic blast of power-pop (Come Tomorrow, the title even...

MATTHEW SWEET INTERVIEWED (1993): It should be a more Sweet world

MATTHEW SWEET INTERVIEWED (1993): It should be a more Sweet world

Matthew Sweet comes with a double handicap: the unthreatening “Matthew” and then . . . “Sweet” Hmm, very soft, very sweet. It isn’t a promising start and he made life doubly difficult by calling his last album Girlfriend and putting a lovely furwrapped, teenage Tuesday Weld on the cover. Wow, Matthew...

Matthew Sweet: Girlfriend (1991)

Matthew Sweet: Girlfriend (1991)

Bitter irony is how Matthew Sweet's small but devoted following might describe his recent profile and measure of success: this gifted singer-songwriter, power-pop rocker and fine interpreter of a lyric is currently gathering kudos for the Under the Covers albums he has been doing with former Bangle Susanna Hoffs. Yes, it's good to know he's...

POWER POP: God's gift to guitars

POWER POP: God's gift to guitars

The perfect pop gig, no doubt about it. A tidy 40 minutes of three minute songs accompanied by lots of bouncing up and down -- then off. And back for a four-song encore. By my reckoning, that's the playing time of two sides of vinyl and an encore of EP dimensions. Perfect. And this was pop -- power pop more correctly – and...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Young Veins: Take a Vacation! (One Haven/Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Young Veins: Take a Vacation! (One Haven/Southbound)

Here's my theory about The Young Veins, for what it's worth: they are aliens who crashed landed secretly in California behind a music store, got on the computer late at night and Googled "pop music". Disturbed by the cops they grabbed some band names and songs at random, fled with some instruments and have subsequently launched...

BADFINGER (1968-73): The shop-soiled Apple band

BADFINGER (1968-73): The shop-soiled Apple band

There are two stories every young musician should read, the first is obvious. The Beatles story is full of magic and coincidence; McCartney's meeting with a drunk Lennon, Harrison getting in by playing Raunchy to them while on a bus, the Hamburg days and the death of Stu Sutcliffe, the firing of Pete Best and Ringo entering just before...

MARC BOLAN; A WIZARD, A TRUE STAR, a doco by MIKE PARKINSON (Pride/Triton DVD)

MARC BOLAN; A WIZARD, A TRUE STAR, a doco by MIKE PARKINSON (Pride/Triton DVD)

It was hardly surprising that Ringo Starr, then an aspiring film-maker because he had little else to do other than churn out hits, should have made a film of Marc Bolan in 1972. Bolan was at the peak of his powers with T.Rex and the "T.Rexstacy" of screaming girls drowning out the music and trying to get a lock of Bolan's hair...

T.Rex: Electric Warrior (1971)

T.Rex: Electric Warrior (1971)

By the time of the Tanx album in 1973, things were starting to go sour for T.Rex's frontman Marc Bolan. He hadn't cared when his old champion John Peel had dismissed his glam pop for its shallowness, or that Bowie and others were starting to snap at his heels. He was in fact oblivious to it all, he was far too busy being the star he always...

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes: Hearts of Stone (1978)

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes: Hearts of Stone (1978)

With his big band the Asbury Jukes (a 10-piece), Southside Johnny out of New Jersey could only ever run a distant second to his friend Bruce Springsteen as the Seventies unfurled. Springsteen had the impetus, the big label, smart management and a kind of destiny -- but they were pals and E Street guitarist Steven Van Zandt was a Juke in...

Gary US Bonds: Quarter to Three (1961)

Gary US Bonds: Quarter to Three (1961)

In the DVD doco accompanying the box set version of The Promise -- the songs recorded while waiting to start a new album after Born to Run -- Bruce Springsteen talks about how he was a product of Top 40 radio, those great three minute songs which set you free just for that moment in time. And E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt later says...

THE JAM and TOM PETTY in '79: Two bands separated by a common language

THE JAM and TOM PETTY in '79: Two bands separated by a common language

At the fag-end of the Seventies, the sound of the Sex Pistols explosion in Britain had faded and in the place of furious punk anger came the more intellectual and cooler sound of post-punk: bands like Magazine, Wire and Joy Division. Across the Atlantic the Ramones' flat-tack energy was faltering and the names to note were Talking...

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Who; Who Are You and The Kids Are Alright (Polydor)

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Who; Who Are You and The Kids Are Alright (Polydor)

The Who -- with as few living members as the former Beatles -- continue to tour and record, and while we wouldn't deny their current firepower, it is worth noting that the explosive energy of their early years was when they really excelled. From the late Sixties onward Pete Townshend started to over-analyse in a way that perhaps blunted the...

Holmes: Stop Go (Yellow Eye)

Holmes: Stop Go (Yellow Eye)

Okay, this album came out in 2007 -- which is of course an eon ago in the world of of pop -- but Elsewhere has an unashamed affection for power pop, and this album seems to have just been given distribution on New Zealand so . . . Holmes is a US indie band but really the work of producer Roy Shakked who made his name remixing tracks by Sarah...

The Baseball Project: High and Inside Vol. 2 (YepRoc/Southbound)

The Baseball Project: High and Inside Vol. 2 (YepRoc/Southbound)

A power pop supergroup of sorts -- Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate, Gutterball), Scott McCaughey (Fresh Young Fellows, REM), Peter Buck (REM) and Linda Pitmon (Golden Smog) -- here continue their passion for baseball after their similarly conceived debut project Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails. You probably don't need to know too much about the...

Papercuts: Fading Parade (Sub Pop)

Papercuts: Fading Parade (Sub Pop)

Although San Francisco's Jason Robert Quever – who is for most purposes Papercuts – opens this fourth album with the drilling indie.pop of Do You Really Wanna Know and the dreamy Do What You Will, which puts them in the lineage running from the power pop of Shoes in the late Seventies through the shoegaze dreamscapes of...

Peter Bjorn and John: Gimme Some (Cooking Vinyl)

Peter Bjorn and John: Gimme Some (Cooking Vinyl)

By giving themselves three thumbs up on the cover of this, their sixth album, Sweden's pop-friendly outfit are doubtless hoping for some similar critical consensus for their return to a more power pop sound after the rather more interesting but failed experiment of the darker Living Thing two years ago. Nothing here will rattle rafters or...

Gruff Rhys: Hotel Shampoo (Ovni)

Gruff Rhys: Hotel Shampoo (Ovni)

The singer for Wales' Super Furry Animals here delivers his third album and the reference points are pure Sixties melodic pop (the Vogues, Buckinghams, early Lennon-McCartney, the Beach Boys) and the LA singer-songwriters of the early Seventies (all those various Taylors, Dan Fogelberg etc). And a little mariachi trumpet. This makes for a...

ROY ORBISON 1960-65: The years of monumental pop

ROY ORBISON 1960-65: The years of monumental pop

Looked at one way, the great Roy Orbison (who died in late '88) had five separate careers, but he only ever changed musical direction once. "The Big O" -- or "the Caruso of Rock" -- as he was known, had long periods away from the spotlight and it would be fair to observe his defining work was done in an exceptional period...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Abba; 4 Original Albums (Polar)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Abba; 4 Original Albums (Polar)

To be honest, I didn't get the appeal of Abba (beyond the obvious pop hooks) until the darkness in some of their songs was explained to me by Chris Knox -- whom I had never taken to have had much interest in them. I was wrong and he was enthusiastic -- and I still don't fully get it. Certainly you can scan their song titles and get melancholy...

EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS, a film by MARTIN DAVIDSON (Triton DVD)

EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS, a film by MARTIN DAVIDSON (Triton DVD)

Although this B-grade rock-cum-mystery film from '83 has plot holes and continuity problems so big you could drive a pink '57 Chevy through them, it isn't without some interest, especially if Bruce Springsteen means anything to you. In the most broadest of terms, it starts like Citizen Kane (a television reporter Maggie Foley -- played by...

Urge Overkill: Rock&Roll Submarine (Redeye)

Urge Overkill: Rock&Roll Submarine (Redeye)

Possibly the most coolly knowing, confidently aloof band since Steely Dan, Urge Overkill out of Chicago were touring mates with Nirvana and Pearl Jam but their stylish and increasingly power pop sound (and cover of Neil Diamond's Girl You'll be a Woman Soon which was used in Pulp Fiction) took them to a mainstream, but small, audience....

Vetiver: The Errant Charm (SubPop)

Vetiver: The Errant Charm (SubPop)

Although on the receiving end of polite but unimpressed reviews in some circles, there's no denying the quiet charm of this album which suggests last light in California and the sun glinting off the top of small waves which roll onto a warm beach as lovers are silhouetted at the water's edge. Although they haven't entirely abandoned their...

Gary US Bonds: From a Buick 6 (1981)

Gary US Bonds: From a Buick 6 (1981)

Because he was just a great rock'n'soul, one-off belter in that dead air between Elvis-in-the-army and the Beatles-on-Ed Sullivan, there was no reason to think Gary Bonds would have had any second life in rock'n'roll. He was, for many, just a space-filler in history with minor hits like the exceptional Quarter to Three in '61 and . . ....

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