Power pop is one of those genres that can be hard to pin down. Its spectrum is broad and other genres join a melting pot in sussing out which bands are deemed power pop. Punks such as Ramones and Buzzcocks could be labelled as such. San Francisco rockers the Flamin’ Groovies are considered pioneers. Raspberries and Big Star cover the harmonic element of the genre. Badfinger herald a massive UK contribution, while Cheap Trick hold the crown of undisputed masters. In the 90s, Teenage Fanclub and Silver Sun took up the mantle. I guess there’s a cigarette paper between power pop, punk, new wave, pop rock and rock ‘n’ roll. Dress it up however you like, but if there’s energetic guitar chords and a massive hook over delicious pop sensibilities, then I guess we’re somewhere near the mark.
A perfect “1, 2, 3, 4” opens this CD collection courtesy of The Paley Brothers and Ramones’ take on Ritchie Valens’ Come On Let’s Go from the Rock ‘n’ Roll High School soundtrack. What follows is 70 minutes of pure power pop joy in all its guises. You even get a Cyril Jordan approved first version of Shake Some Action from the Flamin’ Groovies. The co-founder states: “The best thing we ever did. I’m nowhere near as proud of anything else I’ve recorded.” You cannot argue with that. Other highlights include September Gurls by Big Star and, possibly my favourite power pop track of all time, the Eric Carmen penned I Wanna Be With You by the Raspberries. Sure, bands like Cheap Trick and The Knack aren’t included, and I’m guessing licensing was an issue, but what you do get is killer cuts from The Romantics and Stiff Records’ Dirty Looks.
Age is a funny thing when it comes to broadening your musical horizons. Some parts of the power pop genre I used to instantly dismiss as “Dad Rock.” Maybe it’s because I’m now a father myself, but I’ve opened my mind and albums like The Cars’ debut LP now rock my world. The 24 tracks here cover all sides of the power pop argument and there’s something for everyone. In short, an essential purchase for newcomers to the genre and avid fans alike. Not ‘arf, power pop pickers. Ginge Knievil
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