A brief overview of one of the most durable of all Rock and Roll sub-genres.
"Pete Townshend coined the phrase to define what the Who did. For some reason, it didn't stick to the Who, but it did stick to these groups that came out in the '70s that played kind of melodic songs with crunchy guitars and some wild drumming." – Eric Carmen of the Raspberries
Power Pop, also sometimes known as Anglophile Rock, became a sub-genre of Rock and Roll in the mid-1960's. The phrase was coined by Pete Townsend, the guitarist for the Who, in attempting to describe to a music journalist what type of music his band played. Though this described many of the Mod groups of the Swinging London scene (such as the The Who and Small Faces), it also encompassed what we now call "Beatle-esque" music: the sound of the Fab Four's records from the mid-1960's, where they went from being teeny-bopper favorites and into something new and original, which gradually stripped away the R&B roots of the British Invasion bands with an emphasis on guitars, melody, brevity, vocal harmonies and beat-heavy drums. Think of the music on Rubber Soul and Revolver for reference.
The Bangles, 1986. (l-r) Vicki Peterson, Debbie Peterson, Susanna Hoffs and Michael Steele. Photo by Raul Vega, courtesy of Sony/BMG.
About every ten years, the sound makes a resurgence, but has lately failed to ignite the charts as it once did. In the late 1970's, however, the sound of Power Pop was the perfect vehicle for a slew of successful New Wave bands, all of which drew from the sound and were inspired by the aforementioned Swinging London bands. Initially, Power Pop was the field of white men. Women eventually put their own stamp on the sound in the late 1970's and early 1980's, inspiring a new generation of women rockers of which The Go-Go's were a prime example.
Much of the sound of Power Pop bands in the last decade have been relegated to what is now called Alternative Rock radio and underground bands. Unfortunately, Power Pop has suffered because of the bland sameness of bands on commercial radio, creating a dull, sloppy and pale imitation of what the genre was supposed to be about: sing-along choruses, short songs, music that made you want to get up and dance, blasting from your car radio with the windows down and the rays of sunshine you feel when in love. Most of all, Power Pop is the sound of Summer Rock and Roll fun.
Our tracks this week: Title, Artist, Source
1. Paperback Writer, The Beatles, single A-side
2. In Your Room, The Bangles, Everything
3. Stacy's Mom, Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers
4. Surrender, Cheap Trick, Heaven Tonight
5. Cruel to Be Kind, Nick Lowe, Pure Pop for Now People (U.S.)/Jesus of Cool (U.K.)
6. Open My Eyes, Nazz, Nazz
7. Baby Blue, Badfinger, Straight Up
8. Radio Radio, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, This Year's Model
9. Go All The Way, Raspberries, Raspberries
10. Dope Nose, Weezer, Maladroit
11. A Million Miles Away, The Plimsouls, Everywhere at Once
12. Will Anything Happen?, Blondie, Parallel Lines
13. I'm On Fire, Dwight Twilley Band, Sincerely
14. Feel, Big Star, #1 Record
15. I Can See For Miles, The Who, The Who Sell Out
16. My Sharona, The Knack, Get the Knack
Love to you all.
Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner
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