Friday, January 08, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special Dada-Dah! Audio/Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental fille de hoo-hah Fah Lo Suee and I will be off to Television City in Los Angeles, where we'll be taping the pilot episode of our new talk show -- Let's Hunt Down and Kill Joe Leiberman!

Okay, I'm just kidding here, but a boy can dream, can't he?

In any case, for whatever reason, further posting by moi will be sporadic for a day or two.

In the meantime, then, here's a hopefully fun little project for us al

Best Use of Power Chords in a Post-Elvis Pop or Rock Record!!!

And my totally top of my head Top Seven is:

7. The Rubinoos -- I Want to Be Your Boyfriend

Is it possible to do wimpy power chords? If so, these guys rule, unquestionably.

6. Piper -- Can't Wait

That's the young Billy Squier singing, but don't hold that against it, him or me. In any case, those guitar parts on the verse are essentially a slowed down version of The Rubinoos above. What the hell -- I love 'em both.

5. The Yardbirds -- Stroll On

Mentioned this yesterday, but the progression of this from the three previous versions -- Tiny Bradshaw in '51, the Rock and Roll Trio in '56, and the Yardbirds first take in '66 -- is one of the most astounding avant-garde examples of what we call the Folk Process at work I can think of.

4. Myrakle Brah -- I'd Rather Be

A fabulous song, to be sure, but included in large measure because I like to have something recorded in this century and I couldn't find a more than usually mediocre Killers song that qualified.

3. Big Star -- September Gurls

Power chords on an electric twelve-string guitar. Is there a more beautiful sound occurring in all of nature?

2. The Who -- I Can See For Miles

I'm aware some people can make a convincing case for Robert Johnson and a few other Delta bluesmen as the originators of the power chord, but let's face it -- Pete Townshend more or less owns them (the chords, not the bluesmen), at least in the second half of the 20th century. This may be his masterpiece in that regard, although I'm rather partial to the solo on "The Kids Are Alright."

And the numero uno vroom!vroom!! song of them all, not that surprisingly, happens to be...

1. The Raspberries -- Tonight

Best. Who. Rip-off. Ever.

Alrighty then -- what would YOUR choices be?

[Shameless blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: films featuring archetypal bad boy characters -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could be moved to go over there and leave a comment, it would help get me in good with management. Thanks!]


dave™© said...

The Rubinoos used to do the most awesome fuzz guitar version of "Sugar Sugar" in their live act.

God, I loved those guys!

dave™© said...

I guess I'd pick the opening to "Go All the Way" over "Tonight" - which Eric Carmen had nothing to do with, by the way.

And "Girl of My Dreams" by Bram Tchaikovsky.

Mister Pleasant said...

Mr. Simels, you hit the jackpot with numbers one and two. Both songs have been on my top 10 singles list for years, and they aren't about to budge. Wally Bryson's work on Tonight is just phenomenal.

Also agree about Big Star's September Gurls, though I find the complicated chords and harmonies in Back of a Car to be even finer. Three power chords are fine, but with Alex Chilton you get a whole bunch more. Almost Wagnerian.

Anonymous said...

Let me be the first to nominate the masters of the power chord (next to Pete Townshend of course) The Kinks!

I'll nominate just one song, leaving other songs for other people to mention. The song: "Big Black Smoke". Some of the nastiest power chords ever!


David said...

First off, Steve, this turns out to be a bevy of riches for me: I've always loved "Can't Wait," despite the Squier association, and then onward to Raspberries and Rubinoos, Big Star...a sweet mix for the morning.
Power chords, eh? Just a few:
"I Think of Demons" - Roky Ericson
"Teenage FBI" - Guided By Voices
"Makes No Sense at All" - Husker Du
"Bastards of Young" - Replacements

¡barangus!™ said...

I think Husker Du, Replacements, et alia may be disqualified if we stick to the power pop limitation. Otherwise I'd be right on that with David.

Anyway I'd have thrown in Lady In The Front Row by Redd Kross.

Gummo said...

No mention of the Ramones!??

Hell, I'll nominate the entire first album.

David said...

¡barangus! ... Steve asked for Best Use of Power Chords in a Post-Elvis Pop or Rock Record, so I think we're in the clear...

cthulhu said...

I always thought that the late great Link Wray invented the power chord...

Huge portions of the Who's oeuvre, of course, but I'm partial to the expanded "Live at Leeds" and the extended power chord workout during the "Sparks" portion of Amazing Journey. Masterful...

Feral said...

I'll go for the obvious:

The Troggs - Wild Thing
The Kingsmen - Louie, Louie
The McCoys - Hang On Sloopy
(all kinda the same song...)

And others:
U2 - When Love Comes To Town
Neil Young - Cinnamon Girl
& Rockin' in the Free World
The Move - Do Ya
CCR - I Put a Spell on You

And for the most Evil use of Power Chords:

Rush - Freewill

Wendy said...

Well, The Who are the masters, obviously. Pretty much all of "Who's Next" is power chords: "Baba O'Reilly", "Won't Get Fooled Again", etc., etc., etc.

But I have to nominate the last chord in "A Day in the Life" as one of my all-time faves.

And my word is "flogism" ... No further comment necessary.

Wendy said...

That's The Beatles, obviously. :-)

Noam Sane said...

Todd Rundgre, Black Maria

(link is to the infamous glam appearance on Midnight the wings)

TMink said...

Baba O'Reilly is the one to beat for me.

But One Way Or Another by Blondie has some bitching power chords don't cha think?

Mississippi Queen does not do bad either.


John Fowler said...

Well, first a confession - I really can't tell whether a tune has a power chord or not. I'm not a musician, as the only playing I can do is playback of something already recorded.

So, I'm relying on others to firmly (but hopefully politely) veto any of the following tentative nominations. Maybe I'll learn something...

1st, I love "I Can See For Miles", and so much of the Who in general (including the instrumental work from Tommy, referred to by cthulhu). But I have to nominate "I Can't Explain" as right at the top, too. Are those power chords?

2nd, I'd like to chime in with special appreciation for "Makes No Sense At All", "Septembur Gurls" and the Troggs/Kingsmen/McCoys trilogy.

And, some tentative nominations - do these use power chords???:
The Replacements - "Alex Chilton" from Pleased to Meet Me
Velvet Underground - "Sweet Jane" from Loaded
The Clash - "I Fought the Law" from their first
Blur - "Song 2" from Blur
How about the second half ("Hey-la, Hey-la") of the New Pornographers - "The Bleeding Heart Show" from Twin Cinema?

(Stepping away from the keyboard, with some concern about appearing idiotic...)

John Fowler said...

Oh, yeah, and what about
Matthew Sweet - "Sick of Myself" from 100% Fun

Mike said...

Cherry Baby - Starz

Anonymous said...

Only the Kinks could do the same power chord four times sideways as wonderfully as this:

You Really Got Me
All Day & All of the Night
I Need You
The Hard Way


Anonymous said...

y'all are just sucking up to the host(esse)s. everyone knows the best power chords are:

Smoke on the Water

Alright Now (tho i'm partial to Mr. Big myself)

that one chord after the solo on Shapes of Things

and too many Alice Cooper songs to list

Anonymous said...

Highway to Hell

Wendy said...

Bruce: "Murder Incorporated"
Nirvana: "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Procol Harum: "The Truth Won't Fade Away" (from Prodigal Stranger, a great album sadly ignored)

Noam Sane said...

John, I looked up "power chord" on Wikipedia, as I've heard the term many times and play guitar myself, and I knew the general idea, but not the specific definition.

A power chord is a 2-note chord, consisting of the root note and its fifth. It's the top part of your standard E or A-shaped barre chord on guitar. Distortion/ overdrive is de rigeur.

The were invented by the guitarist for Jethro Tull.

John Fowler said...

thanks for the info, but, I suppose my question is, how would a non-musician (like myself) recognize a power chord by just listening? Probably not possible, I suppose. The songs I nominated were all ones that I thought had, well, powerfully played chords. (Close enough, or will those in the know just sigh and shake their heads when they read this?)

Given your definition, can you (or anyone else) rule in or out my nominations?

Jethro Tull, huh? I suppose I'm thankful that power chord usage spread out of its humbler origins...

Karatist Preacher said...

I truly love the Big Star 'Keep An Eye On The Sky' box set that came out this year...I've listened to it a million times and could listen to it a million more.

Anonymous said...

No one from Tull invented power chords, electric guitarists have been playing them since whenever we got the juice. the 'power' is in the distortion...

all great song choices so far and YES all power chords baby - you know 'em when you hear 'em!

Alex said...

20/20 -- "Yellow Pills"
Hoodoo Gurus -- "I Want You Back"
Cheap Trick -- "Surrender"

NYMary said...

I know I'm a cliche, but I'll throw in the opening riff from Shoes' "Now and Then"--which, BTW, is what they're playing in the little promo video I posted above for Libby--because when I think power chords, hat's the kind of thing I think of: a riff played in chords rather than notes that shoots for the gut. (Obviously, I am not a musician either.)

NYMary said...

Oh, and kudos for the Myracle Brah, steve. You might also really like Hot Socky--though they're not power chords. Best song is called "Love's Sick"--I totally adore it.

Harlow B. said...

Agree with comments so far, but would add "Smells Like Teen Spirit," The Cars "Just What I Needed," and probably anything by Green Day.

Faze said...

The Raspberries "Tonight" is not a Who rip off. It is more Who-inspired, which is a whole different thing. The Raspberries "I Don't Know What I Want" from the album Starting Over is a Who rip-off -- and hence ponderous and unnecessary. "Tonight", on the other hand, soars to heights the Who never achieved. Wally Bryson's power chord apotheosis, however, may be the Raspberries' "Ecstasy". Nobody does it better.

Anonymous said...

Every time I hear some idiot say-"yeah, but Nugent is a great guitarist", I either want to tell them that Nugent should have donated both his kidneys to get out of Nam, or I play them this. Power chords.
From West Virginia.

TMink said...

Nugent may be a great shot with a bow, but he is really NOT a great guitarist. Enthusiastic yes, but not at all great.

There is a guy on youtube who uses two guitars to tap out Mario and other N64 theme songs that plays circles around Ted.

Course he never wears a coon tail on his ass.


Anonymous said...


What do you think of when you think of Powerpop? I know it’s obvious, but I think of the words “Power” and “Pop”. Powerful guitar chords mixed with great hooks and two and three part harmonies, recalling the best that bands like The Beatles and Who (and later, Badfinger and the Raspberries) had to offer.

When I visualize Powerpop, I see the cover of The Who’s “A Quick One”, with huge streams of colored words flowing out from the band.

When I hear a lot of the shit called Powerpop these days, I visualize a wilted flower.

If you want an example of this creeping wimpiness, there is no better one than the International Pop Overthrow series released by Bruce Bodeen and Not Lame Records. IPO showcases dozens of unknown bands at the annual shows staged around the country. God bless Bruce; he has done more to promote this genre than nearly anyone else the last few years. But put on one of these 3 disc collections and you’ll quickly get my point- there about 2 discs of godawful dreck and maybe 1 disc of passable pop. How can anyone record this crap, let alone put it on a disc? What’s really depressing is that these songs are supposed to be each band’s best song. I pity anyone who has to sit through a set from the crap list to get to a decent band.

An even worse collection is “Luke’s Swedish Pop Sampler”. This blog offers free downloads of totally obscure Scandinavian pop songs. Although there are a couple of great finds, such as The Mopeds and The Wannadies, the rest prove that the spirit of Abba is alive and well in the land of the midnight sun. Once again, nice thought, and God Bless Luke for trying, but seriously, WHAT WAS HE THINKING?

I respectfully suggest that we create a new sub-genre of Powerpop: PUFFYPOP (I considered “Pussypop” but that’s not fair to the tons of great female rockers out there). Here’s a quick guide to help you determine which category a song or band should be in:

Big Star
“Yellow Pills”
Two Guitars, Bass and Drums
Early Fountains of Wayne
Vocalist sounds like he’s gone through puberty
Songs about cars, girls and high school OK

Ben Folds Five
“Silly Love Songs”
Latest Fountains of Wayne
Vocalist sounds like puberty’s passed him by
Songs about lollipops, "feelings" and puppies OK

I really believe that this huge amount of horrible, wimpy bullshit music is keeping the general public from finding out about the really good, rocking Powerpop bands out there (ever heard of The Living Things, for example?)

Let this be a call to arms, fans of true Powerpop! NO MORE PUFFYPOP!!!

Bruce Brodeen said...

A few things:

One, Myracle Brah's "I"d Rather Be", as mentioned above, is pure awesomeness. My label, Not Lame, has released over 100 CDs over the years and this particular track is still one of my favorite of ALL the tracks that have appeared on my wee little label, Gawd, must be 1,500 songs. It's that freakin' good.

Two, One man's pop is another's poop. I'm a rocker - born and bred on Iggy, The Dolls and MC5 and mid/late 70s punk and while I see 'anonymous''s point(I like my pop LOUD, pretty much always, when it comes to my down time w/ doing Not Lame stuff), the IPO collections are pretty cheap, generally(Free for hundreds of pop fans to no more than $18 for 3 CDs) and are meant to be samplers.

They are compiled by David Bash, who runs the fabulous and awesome International Pop Overthrow festival(events all over the world!), not myself(Bruce Brodeen). His tastes are, as they would be with anyone, a reflection of his own personal proclivities and, yes, they are on the 'softer' side. To each his own and I'll take David's own over most still - the bands are just looking to have their music heard and it's a low-cost method for the open-minded music fan. I'm proud to be associated with David Bash, a friend, peer and fellow music fan who did something with that passion.

Some volumes are amazing, some really good and some no-as-good-as-the-one-that-came-before it. When you've done 12 and compiled over 700 songs on them, yr digging.

And that is the point, for me, at least. The discovery of that new, next favorite band around the corner.

So, in this DIY age, Anonymous, DUDE - do it yrself and quite yr griping. Put some energy into turning others onto what YOU think is good.

We'll listen and keep an open mind until the next track queues up. I'd love discover what your digging on.

And slam for your contribution to 'suck', too. ;-P

Seriously, I keed, I keed. Anyone can make up a comp and get the good word out - yr obviously passionate, so make your own take on this 'power pop' stuff and do something cool and productive. Gather up some bands, contact them and get their permission and go to and press up 10, 50 or 100+ and blog it righteously.

And then get in touch with me and I'll carry and sell for you on the Not Lame site.

I'll help ya get the whole thing pressed/laid out and hook you up w/ resources galore, if you need it. I be not hard to find.

Last Comment: Rock 'n Roll is dead. Long Live Rock 'n Roll.

Rawk, No Roll,
Bruce Brodeen
Not Lame Recordings

Anonymous said...

"Let's Hunt Down and Kill Joe Leiberman!"

god you're an asshole. but a typical leftist asshole.