New compilation highlights material from acts in the power pop multi-verse both obvious and obscure
Artist: Various Artists
Album: Come on Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The ’70s and ’80s
Label: Big Beat/Ace
★★★★ (4/5 stars)
Well, this is something we power pop fans have been waiting for a long time: a label like Ace–who is known for pulling nuggets from all kinds of sources–to release a collection of gems in the genre, and they have done just that with Come On Let’s Go! As is their wont, Ace has co-mingled classics by…well…classic power pop acts like Raspberries, The Romantics, Dwight Twilley Band, Bill Lloyd, 20/20, Shoes, Big Star and The Rubinoos with would-be hits by the likes of The Tweeds, The Secrets*, The Toms, The Rooks, and many others, making for quite a collection.
Most people reading this will know all about the aforementioned classic acts, so let’s talk about some of the others: tracks like The Hollies-inspired “(My Girl) Mary Anne” by The Spongetones, “The Trains” by The Nashville Ramblers (a would-be classic if there ever was one), “Better Than Anyone Else” by the one man wrecking-crew The Toms, “Teen Line” by The Shivvers (led by the very fetching Jill Kossoris), “Baby It’s You” by The Boys, and “Not The Way It Seems” by Gary Charlson can certainly stand with the best of the genre. Kudos also to compiler Dave Burke for not going for the obvious by the known quantities (e.g. choosing “I Wanna Be With You” rather than “Go All The Way”, and “Looking For The Magic” vs. “I’m On Fire”, et al…). It’s also really neat to have the early versions of “Shake Some Action” by The Flamin’ Groovies, and “Tomorrow Night” by Shoes here.
Some minor carping: although “Glitter Best” by The Rooks is a fine song, there’s no indication that it was released, or even recorded, before 1990, making one wonder why it would be on a ‘70s/’80s comp, and while Wire Train was a cool band, their “It’s Only Dark” was much more like an MTV-type tune than power pop. Surely there could have been better choices made in this regard, and while one must be mindful of the difficulty in getting song rights, there are enough power pop tunes Ace could have chosen from in their stead (was it impossible to get anything by The Records, Off Broadway, The Pencils, The Cheepskates, etc…?).
The excellent liner notes by Mr. Burke round out a fine package, which will hopefully turn the uninitiated on to a sub-genre of pop that, up until now, has been sorely neglected by anyone other than the cognoscenti.
AUDIO: “Shake Some Action” by the Flamin’ Groovies