Saturday, January 30, 2010

Best Power Pop Albums from the Past

Power pop is a term that's pretty board, but to me it's all about the bands of the late 1970's and early 1980's. The music is guitar-driven with great vocals and extremely tuneful songs. I could have listed a bunch more, but these are the most important ones in my opinion. Amazon's Music Sampler is best way I've found to find samples on-line. Give it a try if you're curious.

The Beat- This is my all-time favorite album! This came out in 1979 and I can still remember how wonderful it sounded the first time I put it on my turntable. "Rock N Roll Girl" is the best song to start an album ever, it has a great opening riff and then kicks in with a great rockin' melody. Really, every song on this is perfection. The cd release has their second album on it as well (the band's name changes to Paul Collins' Beat to avoid confusion with the English Beat).
Shoes "Present Tense"- Another one from '79 (the magic year for power pop). Shoes have been around forever and have released a lot of fantastic albums, but this one was the first one I bought. There are three singer/songwriters (two are brothers) in the band and all three write perfect romantic pop songs. "Tongue Twister" is added to the cd release. Yeah!
The Romantics- Okay, everyone's heard "What I Like About You" a hundred times, but this is a super album. "When I Look In Your Eyes", Tell It To Carrie", "Little White Lies" are all amazing. You have to play this one loud! Their 2nd Lp, National Breakout is combined with their first if you get American Beat Records new re-release (and with better sound).
The Knack "Get The Knack"- A band most people either loved or hated back in the day ('79 again). "My Sharona" was a big hit and got totally over-played on the radio, but if you listen to this album you'll realize what a wonderful one it is. These guys were great musicians and could write fantastic songs.
20/20- A pretty obscure album to most, but one of the best pure pop releases ever. From my hometown of Tulsa, so I'm especially proud of this one. "Yellow Pills" is a classic song that everyone should hear. Again, the cd release has their second album as a bonus
The Plimsouls "...Plus"- You have to get the re-issue Rhino Records put out to get the best edition, it has some classic singles added. Peter Case and Paul Collins used to be in The Nerves and Breakaways together, so if you like The Beat you'll like this one too. "Zero Hour" and "Everyday Things" are the standouts for me.
The Sorrows "Teenage Heartbreak"- I haven't heard this since it came out in 1980, but I remember loving it. Featuring ex-members of The Poppees. Classic power pop with a 60's feel. If this finally comes out I'll be first in line to get it (and if anybody out there finds it, please let me know!).
Robin Lane And The Chartbusters- A real sleeper pick! Lane's vocals are what makes this so good. Her singing style is very unique, a weird mix of highs and lows. Now, if only someone would release their second Lp on cd (you can get it on iTunes though, it's called "Imitation Life")
The Diodes- From '78, and it might be more punk than pop. I heard "Tired Of Waking Up Tired" years before I was able to finally get their first Lp on cd. It's combined with their second Lp "Released" so it was worth the wait. "Terminal Rock" and their cover of "Red Rubber Ball' make this a really fun record. From Canada.
The Records- Called "Shades In Bed" in the U.K. Another of my favorites when it first came out, I must have played it a thousand times. "Teenarama" and "Starry Eyes" are perfect. This was my first experience with British power pop.
Bram Tchaikovsky "Strange Man, Changed Man"- I was lucky enough to see these guys in Lawrence, KS in '79 when they toured. A great show, a great album, by a great band. I'm still waiting for his two other Lp's to be available, "Pressure" and "Funland".
Nick Lowe "Labour Of Lust"- Another excellent album unreleased on cd or iTunes. His "Jesus Of Cool" is available but this is a bit better. "American Squirm" is funny and a great pop song. Lowe was a very busy man at the time, recording with Rockpile and producing Lp's by Elvis Costello & The Attractions and Dave Edmunds. Might want to check those out too.

There are a few bands releasing stuff today that's inspired by the great bands on my list. Here are some that I really like...
Cheap Time, Jesse & His Gentlemen, The Bad Sports, The Cute Lepers, The Tranzmitors and The Leftovers. The Methadones cd "21st Century Power Pop Riot" is a must get!


  1. I wanted everyone to know that I'm NOT a writer. It's much easier just posting artwork and not having to add much else. My occasional posts about music will probably be a bit awkward until I get more comfortable writing.

    This is really just an excuse to brag about my huge record collection.

  2. keep bragging, i love reading about music. i am going to check this stuff today. i will start with the top of your list -"The Beat"

    on as side note if you like power pop stuff, have you checked out the new julian casablancas album? it is great!