Saturday, October 30, 2004

Is this Pop?

I'm never sure how to feel about cover bands, having been decidedly damaged at a pretty young age by Beatlemania. But this actually looks kind of interesting, if only because they're playing a whole album.
Yes, they're going to tackle the album yet again, this time on a Saturday night instead of the middle of the week. Work off that turkey and sing along - maybe it will end up being an annual Messiah-type thing. Drummed & Wired play Black Sea, November 27th, 9pm, $8 door $6 with a flyer, at 14 Below, 1348 14th Street, Santa Monica, CA, 310-451-5040.

What do we think, guys? Endearing tribute or terrifying simulacrum? I mean, after all, it's not like Partridge and Moulding will ever do these songs live....

True confessions: If I lived anywhere near LA, I'd probably go. (And this from someone who once drove 24 hours to see Redd Kross. As an opening act...)

Friday, October 29, 2004

(Relatively) Recent History

A number of bands were influential in articulating the aesthetic of power pop. One of the most important was Big Star. Earlier this year, Pop Culture Press ran a long and interesting article about the band's career. From the article:

Alex Chilton had left the Box Tops, spending time in 1969 in Los Angeles, where he lived with Dennis Wilson, moving back home when Manson and the girls moved into Dennis' house. After that, he spent time in New York City, meeting Bud Scoppa, and learning guitar from Roger McGuinn (this meeting may also have happened in LA, depending on whose story you believe). While in New York, he practiced guitar constantly, developing his famous and distinctive guitar style, and began to write a very serious set of songs, inspired by the Greenwich Village folk scene, and artists like Loudon Wainwright. When Icewater made an aborted trip to NYC trying to score a record deal, Bell visited his childhood friend Chilton, and made him promise to come see his new band when he got home. After seeing the band once at a VFW gig in Memphis, Chilton decided to drop folk music and become a member of Chris Bell's band, Icewater. From this point on, there was a real, cohesive group, and everyone involved and around them recognized it as such.

I came to Big Star late, after The Replacements assured me that they "never go far/without a little Big Star."

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Jeff Murphy Interview

Over at Perfect Sound Forever, Collin Makamson sat down with Jeff Murphy... well, not quite. They did it over email. But it's a great chance to catch up with one of the seminal figures in pop and hear him talk about influences, history, and the current scene.

I think the Beatles were writing the handbook on power pop music as they progressed. Their '65-'66 period was probably the birth of today's power pop religion. Songs like "And Your Bird Can Sing," "Paperback Writer" and "She Said" define it. It's all about simplicity and that elusive guitar riff. Greg Shaw, God bless him, saw the need and did whatever he could to help promote it. I think we're due again!

Welcome to PowerPop!

I love power pop. I'm a complete geek about it. Like all music geeks, I spent my adolescence locked in a room with a record player, listening to anything I could get my hands on, limited only by my small town and even smaller allowance. My four older brothers brought music into the house incessantly, but it was my oldest brother who was most responsible for shaping my musical tastes. He had all the Beatles' albums, and, though he'd never admit it, was a bit of a geek in his own right.

Exhibit A: A cassette tape, 45 minutes long, which included fifteen seconds of every Beatles song then available, in alphabetical order. Terrifyingly, his wife recently asked me if I thought it was possible to get these scraps from mp3s so he could have this on CD.

With role models like him, I never had a chance.

But I was born in 1966; The Beatles really weren't my generation. They were the air I breathed. No, I came of age just in time for the late 70's explosion of power pop. Cheap Trick, Shoes, The Knack, The Vapors, The Records, 20/20, The Undertones, The Beat (Paul Collins' Beat, not the British guys), Starjets... hell, I'd listen to anything. I harrassed record store clerks for posters, I picked up records just because they looked interesting. I discovered 20/20 and The Undertones because my public library had them in their collection. (I'd love to know how that happened!) Some of the bands were popular, some completely obscure. (I have an ice cream sundae for anyone else who owns Starjets, a Northern Irish band who later became The Adventures. Their sole album, as far as I know, is called God Bless Starjets)

Recently, I've been meeting a lot of folks in the blog world who share my obsessions. Guys (usually mostly guys, alas), this blog is for you.