Tag Archives: Shake Some Action

Power Pop Prime

Not long ago I wrote about the sad demise of Not Lame Recordings, as well as the new ventures that Bruce Brodeen was pursuing next. He’s already launched the pop community Rock and Roll Tribe and the countdown is current for Pop Geek Heaven.

Bruce has also been busy writing and editing a series of books about powerpop, one for each of the years that Not Lame was open. I’d tell you at length what that’s all about, but why not hear it from the man himself?

Video: Power Pop Prime

Bruce is right; copies of Shake Some Action are rarely found. It’s not on Amazon, nor Borders, nor Barnes & Noble, nor eBay nor other auction outlets I searched. So while I hope these limited editions wind up in the arms of fans, not investors, no reason a wise powerpop fan can’t be both.

The book goes on sale very soonsign up here!

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I got a couple of emails from readers of yesterday’s post who were loving the Beatles cover comp and asking about tributes, since I’m on record as an obsessive fan of such efforts. On more than one occasion I’ve made my mixtape entry a covers collection (even pilfering a Replacements track title – I’LL BE YOU – for one of the more recent efforts) and I always love when I get them in return. (I’ll have to dig up that comp and post it here in the near future.)

I’ve found that the best ones are usually from independent projects on small labels where the scope will go outside the artist roster. By licensing tracks from other worthy bands that would appeal to the same audience as the internal ringers, the label is saying “we are putting the project first” rather than “this is a cheesey effort to get even the crappiest band on my roster some attention“. Frankly few of these get airplay anyway, so those weaker efforts just wind up in the band’s garage where they belong.

The major labels often blow it as well; too often their efforts wind up using big name artists that have no clue. Of course, with their overhead mapped against the unlikely hit potential, these are not frequent releases. But like the tiny labels trying to build around one good band with filler, the big boys have proven that they’re equally adept at creating a PLE (painful listening experience).

A list of the greatest tribute albums ever deserves more time and thought than I have to spare right now, but I do want to float out a couple of my favorites as well as clue you in to a little known collection assembled by a fellow blogger. These aren’t necessarily the five best, although my favorite tribute ever is included. 

Winner and still champion

Winner and still champion

SING HOLLIES IN REVERSE (eggBert): A majestic collection of power-pop artists including Bill Lloyd, Jon Brion, The Wondermints, Mitch Easter, Tommy Keene and Material Issue. Compiled by the late Greg Dwinnell, this was an all-hits no-misses effort where even the artwork and liner notes were first rate. Greg’s eggBert label also issued a wonderful Bee Gees tribute called MELODY FAIR that was almost as good.

Kovering the Klassics

Kovering the Klassics

THIS IS WHERE I BELONG (Rykodisc): Steve Forbert, Jonathan Richman, Bill Lloyd (the KING of tribute album appearances), Fastball, Fountains of Wayne, Cracker, Minus 5…a solid list of great commercial bands drawing from one of the Koolest Katalogues around. A little better than GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT, which was released around the same time, although “Ring The Bells” by The Model Rockets from the latter might be the best cut of all. (If you can find a copy of SHANGRI-LA on Communion Records, that’s also highly recommended! (Note – if you listen to the Amazon clips, realize that the matchup of artist and song is incorrect).

Whipped Gum and Other Delights

Whipped Gum and Other Delights

RIGHT TO CHEWS (Not Lame): For the bubblegum pop listener in all of us, Not Lame’s impeccable release was complied by John Borack (longtime reviewer and author of Shake Some Action) and features some of the best artists in the current power-pop scene.  Great takes on The 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Ohio Express and Tommy Rowe by Michael Carpenter (genius) , Walter Clevenger (ditto), The Lolas and others. Not Lame has released several great tribute albums for artists as diverse as Gene Clark, Jeff Lynne/ELO and The Cars, among others; every one of them has several chestnuts worth roasting.

Bone Up on these great covers

Bone Up on these great covers

While you’re waiting foa any of the above to arrive in the mail, why not enjoy a great tribute mix right now? Angelo from Power Pop Criminals assembled these brilliant cover comps that are available as free downloads. And on that same page, the excellent rarity and out-of-print Bobby Fuller Four tribute OUR FAVORITE TEXAN.

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Car Tunes

A few years ago, I wrote two pieces for John Borack’s great powerpop book Shake Some Action. One piece made it in, the other didn’t. Hey, shit happens! I happened to come across it tonight, and since I probably wouldn’t change anything on the list, what the heck? It’s almost Daylight Savings Time, which is almost summer, which is almost drive-around-with-the-windows-down, right? Scroll below the vintage radio and enjoy.

John is reportedly working on a new book – keep your eyes peeled.

(No, I don’t think that’s the title…)

Dirty, filthy rock'n'roll!

Dirty, filthy rock'n'roll!

What is it about rock’n’roll and car radios, anyway?

Maybe it’s the sheer exuberance of driving down the highway on a sunny day, or maybe it’s that the original car radios were just louder, brassier versions of that transistor you sneaked under your pillow at night (post-Boomers, ask your parents about that…). But few things in life can pick you up out of the gutter and give you a sense of immortality than the perfect song coming through the speakers at the perfect time. You smile. You’re bulletproof. Life is good!

Of course, there are many great rock classics that can get you pumped up. The cowbell that opens “Honky Tonk Women” does it to me every time, and I can’t keep the car on the road if “You Shook Me All Night Long” is playing. I’ve butchered the lyrics to “Louie Louie” and missed the high notes in “Bohemian Rhapsody” with the best of them. But for pure unadulterated joy, nothing beats power pop.

Why? First and foremost, the killer hook. It’s immediate, visceral, timeless, and using any air instruments at your disposal, you can play along. The harmonies…usually a little more exacting than their hard rock brothers and sisters, it’s either a seamless harmony vocal or a mind-bending blend of aural delight. And, of course…a chorus to die for. Two or three minutes of airtight, hummable, singable, danceable bliss that makes you forget your inhibitions – and your troubles – as you dwell on the possibility that “this might be the best song I have ever heard…”

So without further ado…and with apologies to about thirty songs that might just be number eleven with a bullet…here are the ten best power pop songs I have ever heard emitting from a car radio. Countdown!


 10. “Tonight” (The Raspberries)

To many, the quintessential pop band, and for me it’s their finest moment. Eric Carmen’s vocal is electric; he sounds like he’s trying to burst through your speakers and get right in your face. And what teenager couldn’t identify with the subject matter?

 To read the full list, please click HERE.


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