Saturday, November 24, 2007

Shake Some Action


Generally, I like vacations because I like to nap. I lay down with a book and after five minutes fall asleep and wake an hour or two later, rejuvenated.

But.

Today, I laid down with my new book: John M. Borack's Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide. (Available from Not Lame Records, here.)* I missed my nap, because I read it, cover to cover. And I have some small complaints, but on the whole, it's a terrific achievement of a lot of different writers. It's rather "list"-y--lots of 100 best this and ten best that, but the analyses defending the choices are fascinating and there are some very solid essays. Perspectives vary widely, as there are a lot of contributors here. But they all live pretty much in our neighborhood.

The centerpiece of the book is Borack's top 200 Power Pop albums. I was ready to rip this one apart, I was... but I can't. Oh, I might place some things higher or lower, but the top ten (Raspberries, Big Star, Shoes, Cheap Trick, 20/20, Chris von Sneidern, Tommy Keene, The Orange Humble Band, Adam Schmitt, and The Beat (that's Paul Collins' Beat, not the British ska band)) seems about right to me. Matthew Sweet, Nick Lowe, Game Theory, Material Issue and FOW clock in in the top 20, The Spongetones, the Knack, Velvet Crush, and The Records well above 50, and even Red Kross makes the top 100.

As with any best of list, there's bound to be some debate (and Borack explains, though not wholly to my satisfaction, the exclusion of The Lemonheads and the New Pornographers), and my eyebrows did go up at the omission of steve's fave Rob Laufer, for example.

Other weird things in other sections: I'm not convinced that if you give yourself a strict one record per artist rule, you can count both XTC and the Dukes of the Stratosphear, and calling Elvis Costello's "Veronica" McCartney-influenced seems a little weird, since Sir Paul cowrote the tune.

Mostly, I was awed by my own ignorance: what I know, I know pretty well, but clearly I'm an amateur here. For example: I admit that I didn't know that ubiquitous LA Power Popper Robbie Rist was this guy. Weird, eh? So I invite my cobloggers and our commenters to help me review this book over the next couple of weeks. What do we think of it?

(And yes, we're mentioned in it, as are many of the folks on our blogroll, including the delightful Spike Priggen at Bedazzled and my darling Mike at Powerpopulist.)

Ans so, no nap, but still rejuvenated. Thanks!

Oh, let's shake some action for the hell of it.



*(steve, don't you dare. I know Hanukkah is 2 weeks away, but I bought you one and it's in the mail, so no sense bitching now.)

12 comments:

Culture of TrÜth said...

Wow.

You should get a t-shirt with "PowerPop" on it.

Kid Charlemagne said...

Haven't got mine yet! Hopefully Monday!!

Kid Charlemagne said...

BTW, I NEVER get tired of hearing this song!!

steve simels said...

How come I've never seen this clip?

BTW -- somewhere's there's a clip of Cracker -- David Lowery's band -- doing this from the soundtrack of some 90s teen film...

steve simels said...

Or is this it?

I'm confused...
:-)

steve simels said...

BTW


Mary --

I'm speechless, as always.

I owe you more than I can even say...
:-)

steve simels said...

Culture of TrÜth said...
Wow.

You should get a t-shirt with "PowerPop" on it.


Which I plan to get lucky while wearing sometime this year...
:-)

steve simels said...

NYMary:

You read it cover to cover?

Well that's a challenge -

Okay, we'll talk when I have too.
:-)

NYMary said...

steve,
That was the underrated Clueless which featured this tune.

Anonymous said...

Since I introduced John Borack to power pop artist LMNOP nearly 20 years ago, I feel free to comment on his "Shake Some Action" book. Overall, it functions midway between Emmett McAuliffe's grade guide and Ken Sharp and Doug Sulpy's more recent tome of interviews/essays. All three certainly have their place, but this book more than the others clearly shows that power pop is indeed a sub-genre and that its fan base is quite fanatical and a bit incestuous. No surprise there. It only seems a matter of time before the ubiquitous Robbie Rist gets his shot with Susan Cowsill, too. See what I mean?



Not that this isn't a fine work. It is, and any complaints will only be picking nits. But who can resist? Denying the Ramones and Undertones entry in the top 200 albums list because they are deemed "punk" was a bit much to swallow. They deserve to be in the top rank. And while the Click Five may deserve a mention based on their commercial success, the band's debut album should not have earned a spot in the top 200; its inclusion would have made Linda Lovelace choke. It can easily be replaced with "Pet Rock" by the Sinceros or "The World Won't End" by the Pernice Brothers, among other contenders.



At least John had the good sense to limit artists to just one album each. I have no problem with his listing of Pezband's eponymous debut over "Laughing in the Dark," but I can only smirk when "Like This" by the dB's gets the nod over "Stands for Decibels"/"Repercussion" or "Free Expression" by Velvet Crush is selected over "Teenage Symphonies to God." Sloan, arguably a power pop hall of fame band, is not included because John doesn't "get them." Phhttt! And no Spinning Jennies? Well, at least he got the Lolas, Blue, and Cherry Twister in there. Perhaps I should be a little more thankful for what I've got.

Cookie said...

Wow. I'm in it? News to me. Guess I gotta get one. Thanks!
Spike Priggen

Anonymous said...

^^Thanks!!

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