Wednesday, March 10, 2010

D.I.Y. - Come Out and Play: American Power-Pop (1975-1978)

I’ve always advocated for the choppier British take on power-pop over the softer American version of the style. Despite my prejudices, on Come out and Play Rhino once again demonstrated their ace compiling skills. Here they cherry-pick the more muscular bands (Real Kids,he Nerves, The Flamin' Groovies, Cheap Trick), add some great tunes from other-wise okay bands (Pezband, Earthquake) and steal The Diodes delicious "Tired of Waking Up Tired" from Canada. (I still think British punters of the late seventies would’ve driven Fotomaker and their pleasant a.m. pop-stylings over the white cliffs of Dover.)

MRML Readers (hello?): UK or US? Whose power-pop is the best? Leave us a fuckin' comment with your choice!

Come Out and Play link is in the comments section

P.S. Oh and for those of you partisan about such things, it should be noted that "I Am the Cosmos" is a glorious, yearning slice of teenage melodrama.

P.P.S. Thanks to Longy from Punk Friction and Marky Dread from King Rocker Rocks On for making me decide not to quit posting the DIY series.


  1. Link

  2. how they say? americans do it better...the problem with uk powerpop is the many Jam soundalikes,and I never liked Weller & co...but yeah,stuff like Photomaker is terrible...

  3. Roberto (sorry the old post was weird so I deleted it)

    Yeah one's love of The Jam has a lot to do with one's embrace of UK power-pop.

  4. What's weird is how American power pop's Not Quite Ready For The A.O.R. Format-ed-ness is, more or less, completely based around Badfinger's attempt at bringing "Abbey Road" out-takes to the masses. Don't get me wrong, I love 'Finger waaaayyyy more than any man should but, as to the heart of the gutlessness in American Power-Pop, Mother England is still to blame.

    Do The Diodes have anything that comes even remotely close to the glory that is "Tired Of Waking Up Tired"? Does anybody?

    Chris Bell = Strangled Perfection

  5. Power Pop / New Wave another label, just played it a bit too straight and way too close to safe record company politics. That being said there is plenty of great tunes to come out of that so called scene. I love The Nerves original and bands like The Vapors were great as for Chris Bell it's a superb track and loved it the minute I heard it.

    As for those who stop buy our blogs and just grab and go well how difficult is it to leave a comment when you are getting stuff for free. A bit more respect to the effort folks put in wouldn't go a miss...but alas.

    Maybe we should make our blogs private and just trade amongst ouselves and let the masses go sing who knows?

  6. Thanks for this one - had it when it was first released but it was stolen in a break-in a few years back (along with about 1000 other CD's). It's nice to finally have a decent copy again.

  7. Is Britain by nature more of a "pop" place (I'm thinking of Ian McDonald's great analysis of the Beatles as a pop band that went wrong when the drugs took over)? There's less anxiety about "sincerity," perhaps--and more love of fun? It's a generalization (and Big Star is the best power-pop band ever--or is that the best band?). However, UK is more friendly to and prone to producing pop bands: that's my thesis and I'm sticking to it. BTW, sorry for not writing more comments, but as the evidence here suggests, you're not missing much!

    Cheers from Toronto

  8. The Nerves, The Rubinoos, Marshall Crenshaw, The Exploding Hearts, The Plimsouls, Cheap Trick...and others that I am not thinking of right now...I will have to go with the U.S. over the U.K. That is just my tastes though. Although, Ireland comes close to both of them just for Protex song "Place In Your Heart" alone...


  9. Thanks for the posts. I have this particular one, but didn't realize there was a whole series of related titles. Well done

  10. CPB
    I'm proud to say that I followed very word of that sentence! And yes, I suppose Anglo-American power-pop cannot be too neatly seperated.
    (The Diodes wrote on perfect osng and a slew of okay ones, I'm sad to report.)

    Good call on The Vapours one of the most underrated power-pop bands (I mean the REST of their discography is underrate of course)

    And yes the taking without commenting is annoying as fuck but then you convince some stranger to try something new or some musician comes by and sees what you;re trying to do and all of a sudden you're pumped again.

    Ah I remember when CD's were a prime target in break-ins now they'd be the last thing any thief would take. Glad to have helped you get back a bit of what was lost.

    It's true! No matter what the trend there's almost always a bunch of English kids bashing out a pop tune on guitars. Thanks for the comment and I look forward to the next one!

    That is a killer list but when we roll out the UK list in a few days time ti will be spectacular.

    Yeah Rhino never really made it clear (even in the booklets) that it was a series - never mind the long, muddy titles and the lack of a clear numbering system. By the way the series is nowhere near over - the best is yet to come.

  11. Well, I'd argue that "Child Star" was every bit as good as "Tired." A few years back, someone (Paul Westerberg?) listed it as one of his faves/influences in one of those "list" articles in a guitar magazine.

    At the time, the Diodes were not considered power pop by my crowd; most would have called them a punk band. Definitions shift over time. I now hear the "pop" in the Ramones but there's no doubt that in 1976, that WAS punk.

  12. draftervoi
    Then you feel about the Diodes the way I feel aboiut the Vapours (I love the hit but feel they ahd many songs it's equal or better).

    It is true that the definition of punk is slippery and somewhat controlled by the mainstream it works to oppose.

  13. Thanks, great post nomatter you call it powerpop, new wave or whatever!
    Keep up the good work.

  14. yeah it's funny to think of Caroline Coon and Malcolm Mclaren actually arguing about calling it 'punk' or 'new wave' back in '76.

  15. Thanks for the DIY posts. I had all these discs at one time - great to hear them again.

  16. NM
    Theses comps used to be ubiquitous but they're getting harder and harder to find.

  17. I always got the vibe that US and UK rock of all stripes bounced ideas across the Atlantic in a sort of rock dialectic. They'd rip off certain foreign elements and then make it their own.

  18. Anon
    Totally, it's just funny how slowly those ideas 'bounced'.

  19. have this one on CD, but what a fantastic volume!!!

    highlights for me are Chris Bell and Chris Stamey, which I'd always wanted and couldn't get (here in Oz) until this came out. Plus of course the Groovies, Flashcubes (their CD comp is essential), Nerves, Pezband etc.

    The US v UK debate is not an issue for me, I'm just a sucker for a good tune. One day I might compile all the great Aussie powerpop released 1978-1985. There's some outstanding stuff no-one's ever comped.

    many thanks again jeff

    jeff in sydney

  20. Jeff
    (Sorry this took so long, I'm slow.)

    If you ever put that comp together, I would so post it (or link to it here).

    Thanks for the good words.


Thanks for clicking the COMMENTS link.
Now that you're here,I should mentions that
without reader feedback blogs slowly wither and die