Tag Archives: Paul Collins

Power Popalicious!

Horrible title, great idea.

Yet another veteran powerpop icon steps up to help propel the resurgence of his favorite music. Paul Collins, veteran of two classic bands of the genre (The Nerves, The Beat) recently formed The Beat Army to take music back to the streets where it belongs.

The concept isn’t new; the early days of Poptopia spawned the International Pop Overthrow, which David Bash has continued to expand into a global showcase. Localized events like Sparklefest and The Dewey Beach Music Fest are just two of dozens of annual regional events that have sprung up over the years, and there are countless DIY efforts and house concerts that have prospered thanks to coordinated blasts via Facebook and Twitter. Scores of radio shows have flooded the web; while most know of the impact and support of Little Steven’s Underground Garage, there were guys like Alan Haber hosting dedicated pop shows a decade earlier.

And just like the community building efforts of Steven and groups like Rock and Roll Tribe, Collins is encouraging like-minded fans and musicians to join forces, share information and give each other a hand. Having toured incessantly off the grid himself over the years, he met and shared stages with dozens of enthusiastic bands sadly trapped by an apathetic industry. This inaugural Power Popalicious Festival is meant to bring some of those groups together and shine a light on the movement in what one can only hope is the first of many such occasions.

Tickets for the fest will be $15 for Saturday and $10 for Sunday, and will be available to purchase online through TicketWeb. Scheduled bands as of today:

SATURDAY, APRIL 30TH
BAM BAMS (Baltimore)
PEACES (Brooklyn)
NEUTRON DRIVERS (NJ)
BAXX SISI’S (Brooklyn)
LANDLORD (Bloomington, ID)
FUTURE VIRGINS (Chattanooga)
DIRTY SHAMES (NYC)
AMOEBAS (Grand Rapids)
MOTHER’S CHILDREN (Ottawa)
HALF RATS (Indianapolis)

SUNDAY, MAY 1ST
BFs (Gloucester)
KURT BAKER (Portland, ME)
THE ABOVE (Brooklyn)
THE SPECTACLES (Maryland)
ELECTRIC MESS (NYC)
GLORY FIRES (Birmingham)
THE WALNUT KIDS (Montreal)
THE SIGHTS ( Detroit)
PAUL COLLINS (NYC)

“All over the world, all over the world…tonight…”

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New Album! Rob Skane

Well, new as of last September, anyway. I only have two ears.

Rob Skane, an upstate New York pop songwriter, has assembled a really nice acoustic based collection of three-minute pop songs. Weaving your way through you will probably draw the conclusion that Rob is a fan of Paul Westerberg (“Army of Individuality”), Elvis Costello (“You Preach Peace” – A/B that puppy with “Radio Radio”), Graham Parker (“Ballad of a Small Man”), Paul Collins (“I Waited”) and Nick Lowe (“In My Room”). The whole album has that loose, casual feel of  Marshall Crenshaw. Hell, that’s all from the good end of my record collection.

Ironically released on LoFi Records, Skane’s songs are primarily fueled by chunky acoustic guitar, simple but infectious melodies and choruses. His lead vocals, while not stellar, are well-suited to the songs; if you can appreciate Jesse Malin, Jonathan Richman, Eytan Mirsky, Michael Shelley or Ben Vaughn this is right up your alley. There are no explosive moments; guitar solos are brief, playing is tight without being flashy.

Video: “I Waited

While many of the songs are three chord wonders and can be a bit repetitive (especially the first two), most of them really grew on me.  (With one exception – I have no idea what’s going on with the hidden track, but if the purpose is to remind you to get up and take the CD out of the player, mission accomplished.) It would be almost impossible to hear “Girl Next Door” or  “I Waited” and not drum on the dashboard, and “You Preach Peace” deserves much wider airplay.

Give Phantom Power Trip a listen; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Visit the Rob Skane website.

Buy at CD Baby or Amazon.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten More Bridesmaids

You’ve seen the Top Ten for 2010, and the full list is still being whipped into shape, but there’s no harm tipping the cap to ten more albums that didn’t make the top of the list but were great purchases during the year. Some finished high on other lists – including one that straddled the top on many of them – while others can claim a handful of people like me in their fan club.

Huge followings don’t affect my barometer, nor does a lack of a visible fanbase make me think less of the artist. I like what I like; there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Guilty pleasures are for cowards.

So here, in no particular order, are Ten More Bridesmaids to check out. Hopefully a few of these are already spinning repeatedly at your place too.

01) Manic Street Preachers – Postcards From A Young ManSome say they went commercial with their tenth album; I say they have one of their most irresistible collections of songs in years. Why are they not huge in the US?

02) Paul Collins – King of Power Pop. Maybe a slew of living room concerts inspired him to revisit his more energetic power pop side, and revisit his Beat days. The Flamin’ Groovies and Box Tops covers are icing on the pop cake.

03) Dwight Twilley – Green Blimp. The Man of A Thousand Comebacks makes yet another one, but Green Blimp is very much a return to form. You can almost hear him ripping himself off on these tracks, but in-house sampling is fine when it’s this good.

04) The Parting Gifts – Strychnine Dandelions. Greg Cartwright from Reigning Sound collaborating with Coco Hames of The Ettes, and I would have bounced it higher if Greg sang everything. Great guests including Dave Amels and Dan Auerbach, and the songs are stellar – of course.

05) Arcade Fire – The Suburbs. I like this album quite a bit, but not with the overwhelming fawning that it is getting across the board; I suspect it will finish atop this year’s Village Voice Poll (nah, they’ll cop out for Kanye West…). More of a consistent album than usual and it is growing on me.

06) Jason and the Scorchers – Halcyon Times. Dare I say it? The Scorchers are back. New rhythm section, but Jason Ringenberg sounds young and refreshed, and Warner Hodges is once again a guitar slinger to be bowed down to. Your move, Del Lords!.

07) Stereophonics – Keep Calm And Carry On. Another band that inexplicably doesn’t find success in America, and I’m dumfounded. Kelly Jones and crew just keep getting better and better; maybe one day we’ll catch up with the rest of the globe?

08) Locksley – Be In Love. Maybe it’s the reputation as a band for teens? Their second album is a big leap forward, stuffed with energetic, bouncy, dance-worthy pop songs and great vocals. Remember – no guilty pleasures!

09) Marah – Life Is A Problem. The sound of a band falling apart and being glued back together at the same time. Organic, loopy, rough, heartfelt, strange and exciting, it’s by turns depressing and magical; listening to it is like eavesdropping. I see light at the end of this tunnel.

10) Pernice Brothers – Goodbye Killer. Really, have these guys ever made anything less than a compelling album? Joe Pernice has to be one of the most under-appreciated songwriters around; here his gems echo everything from 60’s singles to late 20th century indie angst. Meant to be listened to cover to cover.

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Another John and Paul

 

Not that John and Paul. 

John Wicks and Paul Collins fronted two of the best power pop bands of their era in The Records and The Beat. Now, thirty years later, they’ve been hitting the stage together from clubs to theatres to living rooms bringing the gospel of pop to the masses. 

Wicks and Collins have continued to record since their heyday and between them they represent a traveling encyclopedia of classic hits. “All Over The World”, “Hearts in Her Eyes”, “Rock and Roll Girl”, “Walking Out On Love”, “Starry Eyes”, “Don’t Wait Up For Me”, “Teenarama”, “Different Kind of Girl”…the list goes on and on. Both men had success with prior bands (Wicks with a short tenure in Kursaal Flyers and Collins with The Nerves) but in the late 70s they both found greater success by creating music that echoed The Beatles, The Raspberries, Badfinger and The Byrds

Now for a special treat – a recent live performance is available through two of their biggest proponents on the Internet. Power Pop Overdose and Power Pop Criminals (or as I prefer to call them, PPO and PPC) are sharing the hosting duties for this great recording, Live At McCabe’s from August 23rd, 2009. It’s a free download authorized by the artists, people! 

And if that’s not enough to get your skinny tie out of the closet, did I mention that Peter Case joins in? 

Hopefully many of you got the chance to see them live during their Living Room Tour last year. If not, this is one hell of a consolation prize. Kudos to Curty and Angelo  for providing the links and artwork and to John and Paul for generously making this recording available through them. 

Part One: Power Pop Criminals 

Part Two: Power Pop Overdose 

Even better news – there’s a 2010 House Concert Tour being planned. Check out their website for details. 

Here’s a quick audio overview

The Kids Are The Same

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He Put The BOMP…

No statue? This will have to do.

No statue? This will have to do.

I’m often asked what makes Bomp different. One answer is that where most labels concentrate on a small roster, I’ve always preferred to give a lot of bands the chance to be heard…I guess I’d most like Bomp to be remembered as a label utterly dedicated to the people who care most about music: the fans and collectors.”

Five years ago we lost one of our greatest soldiers, Greg Shaw. Most pop music writers have read him if not been influenced by him; many saw an opportunity to take the leap from fan to participant because of his magazine and his labels. Shaw began by writing fan letters to magazines and was soon writing reviews for everyone from Rolling Stone to Creem.  Along the way his journey led to managing bands, working at major labels (assembling compilations, of course) and running a record shop, but legions of powerpop fans point to a 1978 issue of Bomp Magazine as the rallying cry that launched a movement.

“Punk had already had its day by 1978, when Bomp Magazine ran a cover story proposing Powerpop: a hybrid style with the power and guts of punk, but drawing on a pop song tradition with wider popular appeal. I had in mind bands like The Who and The Easybeats, (hell, even The Sex Pistols fit my definition!) but much to my chagrin, the term was snapped up by legions of limp, second-rate bands hoping the majors would see them as a safe alternative to punk. I took a lot of heat for starting the whole business…”

Bomp Powerpop cover

But he should also get credit for what did go right. Many great bands rose from the masses of skinny tie wannabes, and some (including Shoes, 20/20, Paul Collins, The Plimsouls, and The Romantics) started at Bomp before landing at major labels. Writers including Lester Bangs, Greil Marcus, Dave Marsh, Mike Saunders and R. Meltzer passed through his masthead. That Bomp didn’t become a haven for great bands like Sire Records is a shame, but Shaw was unwilling to compromise his vision just to play on a bigger stage.

In the ’80s retro-garage was bursting out thanks to bands like The Fuzztones, The Lyres and The Chesterfield Kings; Shaw’s Voxx label attracted a ton of groups. He launched a series of compilations called Pebbles (inspired by Nuggets) featuring some of the rarest original ’60s punk records from his personal collection. He picked up Iggy Pop’s first solo album, Kill City (“when nobody else would touch it”) and issued a series of Stooges outtakes under the title of The Iguana Chronicles. In the ’90s he aligned with Alive Naturalsound Records which brought great bands like Black Keys, Bloody Hollies and Soledad Brothers into the fold, and he continued to discover and nurture new bands that tweaked his antennae until his death from heart failure. He was only 55.

I think the essence of Greg Shaw can be found in this quote:

“I think it comes down to the fact that Bomp is an outgrowth of my love for music. Where many would view it as a marginal business that barely breaks even, I prefer to see it as a hobby that’s profitable enough to allow me to build my life around it.

Contemplating the impact Greg Shaw had upon the industry, it just makes me sadder when I think about politics and greed making charlatans wealthy and famous, while true visionaries are sometimes just cult heroes. But fame is cheap commodity and wealth dissipates. Legacy is the coin that matters, and Shaw’s legacy continues to inspire. 

The BOMP website

Tributes from other writers

The bookSaving The World One Record at a Time

The date of October 19th also claimed guitarist Glen Buxton of the original Alice Cooper Band, who died in 1997; he was only 49.

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Comebacks!

Everybody loves ’em. Josh Hamilton goes from phenom to crackhead to Home Run Derby winner in front of a packed and screaming Yankee Stadium and a global TV audience . Mickey Rourke goes from great actor to…something, and back to the actor that just might have turned in the performance of his life in The Wrestler. The 2004 Red Sox, down 3 games to none to the Yankees in the AL Championship series, get off the mat and sweep them on their way to their first World Series in 86 years and the start of their recent dynasty. Yeah, Flannery O’Connor was right: whatever rises must converge. (Huh?)

Some Yankees took it very hard.

Some Yankees took it very hard.

They don’t call me Captain Segue for nothing. Let’s talk about some musical comebacks in 2008.

Elvis Costello:  OK, you say he hasn’t really been anywhere. I counter and say he’s been all over the place, dabbling in blues, jazz, country and with whatever and whomever would have him. (You know, like that other Elvis guy who made all those movies?) But more importantly, every time he puts out a record I’m being told that it’s the one early Elvis fans – that’s me! – will see as the return to form. Except they’re not. To be fair, expectations are high for one of the best of his generation, and albums like The Delivery Man and When I Was Cruel have several solid moments. But with Momofuku(look it up, I did) he sounds like he’s really having fun for the first time in years (apparently sleeping with Diana Krall isn’t enough to make him happy). His songs have always boasted lyrics to die for, but these are also approachable enough to tempt new fans to take a plunge.

Rick Springfield:  Noah Drake lives! This Dr. Bristol look-alike (back in the day) has been making records fairly steadily through the years but he hasn’t been chart fodder in the States in a very long time. Most fans assume he stopped in the late 80s with Rock Of Life, but after a ten year break he has put out decent but ultimately underwhelming albums like Karma and The Day After Yesterday. Then he drops Venus in Overdrive on us in 2008, and it’s like a lost album from the prime years. He’ll probably never eclipse the 1-2 punch of Working Class Dog and Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet, but who would have thought he could rekindle the flames and sound so rejuvenated?

 Paul Collins: Like Mr. Costello, many thought his best work was long behind him and the sheer exuberance of his early albums was something he was no longer capable of nor interested in. And while true fans know that The Nerves and The Beat were two of the most important powerpop bands bands in history, neither made the commercial splash that Springfield or Costello did at their peak. After getting sidetracked first by the same-named UK ska band, then watching The Knack take their thunder, Collins and company all but disappeared from the populist radar. He recorded a more adult-sounding album with yet another version of Paul Collins’ Beat, followed by a couple of countryish solo efforts. Revered in Spain and other overseas markets, he wasn’t starving. But somehow he took a deep breath and gave us Ribbon of Gold, an album that is close enough to classic Beat without sounding too retro. There’s half a dozen great tracks here and “Falling In Love With Her” is roll-down-your-windows, quit-you-job pop nirvana.

 Glen Campbell: Talk about being blindsided! A career so far removed frpm present day that the tounge-in-cheek title Meet Glen Campbell will probably sail over many heads. It’s a covers album;  you might say “so what – James Taylor did one this year too!”…but did Sweet Baby James cover The Replacements, and Green Day? When Rod The Mod covered rock tunes from the 90s (When We Were The New Boys) and 70s (Still The Same) it was nice but not unexpected. This ia a career leap. I don’t know if this album will bring Campbell to the attention of a new generation (like Johnny Cash’s “Rick Rubin quartet”), but it’s a solid album that doesn’t have to apologize to anyone for anything. And if it gets young listeners to realize the amazing journey that is Glen Campbell’s career, that’s a bonus.

 Any Trouble: Never a first-tier band, they were too smooth for skinny tie pop and too quirkly for commercial radio. Ther loss, because Clive Gregson’s songwriting chops are first rate. “Girls Are Always Right”, “Trouble With Love”, the brilliant “Open Fire”…the list goes on. Making even Abba covers sound great, the band issued one smart record after another until commercial apathy drove them to split up two decades ago. Gregson next forged a nice career teamed with Christine Collister, and both were eventually drafted into Richard Thompson’s band in a low-key Buckingham/Nicks maneuver. Life In Reverse came out of nowhere in 2007; so obscurely promoted that it took this fan over a year to know about it. Original producer (John Wood), original label (Stiff Records) and original sound add up to a record fans must get and others must at least listen to.

And that’s just five artists off the top of my head; I have others. I’m sure you have yours. I’m equally sure at least one person will try to convince me that Brian Wilson reallycame back this year. Just like last year, and the year before that, and the year before, and…hey, get in line behind the McCartney fan pitching the same story, willya?

(I thought about loading a track clip for each, but come on…go to the artist site or MySpace or Amazon or wherever and take at least a quick spin through the album. Maybe if I get inspired I’ll at least insert the links for you, but I don’t know you well,anonymous reader, and how hard do you want a guy to work on a Friday night?)

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