Alternative Music History Lesson #5: The Golden Age of Power Pop – 60s & 70s


Hold on! Is it really Friday? When you are retired/disabled, the day of the week becomes a relative thing. But, this week FLEW by! It literally was a crazy week in this author’s home. First of all, it was a pain pump refill day, which normally is not a long appointment. Yet, this time, the hospital pharmacy did not have enough of everyone’s pain meds to make solutions for all who had appointments. Fortunately for me, my solution had been made the night before my appointment so I was good. Unfortunately, others might have been turned away for another week so the meds could come in. I have been noticing lately how some of the relatively “inexpensive” and “common” meds are becoming more difficult to obtain and thus more expensive. I tend to be a cynic so I am smelling something foul from this explanation. After that one joker raised the price of an AIDS medication from $15 a pill to around ten-thousand times more, I am betting on my cynicism.

Next, Son #1 was flown in, given a rental car and put up for a night by a local company who wanted to hire him for a mathematics-based job. He has always been gifted in the area, but it took him most of his twenties to rediscover and acknowledge what his true gifts are. But, I think that is normal for us men. I know I changed careers when I left the relatively lucrative field of medical technology for a life of underpaid and underappreciated educator. But, when you are following the path that was set for you, then money and prestige never mattered. So, we are praying for #1 to get a job somewhere, preferably close. Keep your fingers crossed.

8.11 Raspberries

Today, I am finally finishing my little History of Alternative Music Week by covering my personal favorite genre, Power Pop. Simply put, Power Pop was America’s reaction to their boredom with the prog rockers of the world. But, instead of jumping on the UK’s Glam Rock bandwagon, Americans pined for the days of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show but coupling those sweet melodies and vocal harmonies with the power chord buzzing of electric guitars as popularized by The Kinks and The Who. Throw those sounds into a blender, along with some very talented musicianship and you get the very Anglo-sounding yet thrilling music of Power Pop. In addition to the previously mentioned artists, these artists have been held up as major influences by Power Pop artists: Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Small Faces, The Move, to list but a few.

8.11 The Records

The genre had a few hits as the ’60s turned into the ’70s, but Power Pop never really gained a financial foothold in the US until the later in the 1970s when bands like Cheap Trick, The Knack and many others had hits. Then, as quickly as the genre went mainstream, it went back into hiding, mostly disguised as New Wave, until the end of the ’80s, when it broke loose again. Then, it briefly made itself heard again with the likes of Matthew Sweet, Sugar and Material Issue heading this comeback. Then, of course, Power Pop went underground again. However, we will hear the DNA of Power Pop from time to time in the sounds of the Punk-Pop, Emo, Twee Pop and Indie Pop and Rock bands.

8.11 Badfinger

But, today, I bring to you My 100 Favorite Power Pop Songs of the Sixties and Seventies. And, for the first time, I have limited myself to only one song per artist. Otherwise, if you know me, this could end up a Cheap Trick and Big Star countdown. HERC, old buddy! Good luck with a Spotify playlist from this Top 100. There are artists in this countdown that does NOT have in their database. <<Insert Dr. Evil-like laugh>> Let the fun begin!

  1. Cheap Trick – “I Want You to Want Me (live)” (1979)
  2. Raspberries – “Go All the Way” (1972)
  3. The Records – “Starry Eyes” (1979)
  4. The Knack – “My Sharona” (1979)
  5. Elvis Costello – “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” (1977)
  6. Big Star – “Back of a Car” (1973)
  7. Fotomaker – “Where Have You Been All My Life” (1978)
  8. Todd Rundgren – “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” (1972)
  9. Artful Dodger – “Wayside” (1975)
  10. Badfinger – “No Matter What” (1970)
  11. Shoes – “Too Late” (1979)
  12. 20/20 – “Yellow Pills” (1979)
  13. The Jam – “David Watts” (1978)
  14. Flamin’ Groovies – “Shake Some Action” (1976)
  15. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “American Girl” (1976)
  16. The Byrds – “So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star” (1967)
  17. The Late Show – “Take a Chance” (1980)
  18. Ramones – “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School” (1980)
  19. The Beatles – “Paperback Writer” (1966)
  20. The Tweeds – “I Need That Record” (1979)
  21. Earth Quake – “Hit the Floor” (1976)
  22. Pezband – “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (1977)
  23. The Beat – “Rock ‘N’ Roll Girl” (1979)
  24. The Kinks – “Waterloo Sunset” (1967)
  25. Utopia – “I Just Want to Touch You” (1980)
  26. The Who – “The Kids Are Alright” (1965)
  27. XTC – “Making Plans for Nigel” (1979)
  28. Nick Lowe – “Cruel to Be Kind” (1979)
  29. The Nerves – “Hanging on the Telephone” (1976)
  30. The Troggs – “Love Is All Around” (1967)
  31. The Paley Brothers – “Come Out and Play” (1978)
  32. The Lambrettas – “Da-a-ance” (1980)
  33. Split Enz – “I Got You” (1980)
  34. The Soft Boys – “Positive Vibrations” (1980)
  35. The Beckies – “Right by My Side” (1976)
  36. The Yachts – “Yachting Types” (1978)
  37. The Hudson Brothers – “So You Are a Star” (1974)
  38. Chris Bell – “I Am the Cosmos” (1978)
  39. The Cryers – “Shake It Up (Ain’t It Time)” (1978)
  40. The Move – “Fire Brigade” (1968)
  41. Off Broadway – “Bad Indication” (1979)
  42. Buzzcocks – “Ever Fall in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” (1978)
  43. Dave Edmunds – “I Hear You Knocking” (1970)
  44. Roy Orbison – “Oh Pretty Woman” (1964)
  45. The Toms – “Let’s Be Friends Again” (1979)
  46. Graham Parker – “Local Girls” (1979)
  47. Rachel Sweet – “B-A-B-Y” (1978)
  48. Eric Carmen – “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again” (1975)
  49. Joe Jackson – “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” (1979)
  50. Paul Revere & the Raiders – “Hungry” (1966)
  51. Emitt Rhodes – “With My Face on the Floor” (1970)
  52. Squeeze – “Take Me I’m Yours” (1978)
  53. Jilted John – “Jilted John” (1977)
  54. Stories – “Darling” (1973)
  55. Blondie – “One Way or Another” (1978)
  56. Dwight Twilley Band – “I’m on Fire” (1975)
  57. Pretenders – “Stop Your Sobbing” (1979)
  58. The Turtles – “Elenore” (1968)
  59. Buster – “We Love Girls” (1977)
  60. Gary Valentine – “The First One” (1978)
  61. The Rascals – “A Girl Like You” (1967)
  62. Purple Hearts – “Millions Like Us” (1979)
  63. The Know – “Like Girls” (1980)
  64. Rockpile – “Teacher Teacher” (1980)
  65. Tom Robinson Band – “2-4-6-8 Motorway” (1977)
  66. The Scruffs – “You’re No Fun” (1977)
  67. Eddie & the Hot Rods – “Do Anything You Wanna Do” (1977)
  68. 4 Out of 5 Doctors – “Modern Man” (1980)
  69. Blue Ash – “Abracadabra (Have You Seen Her)” (1973)
  70. Buddy Holly – “Rave On” (1957)
  71. Piper – “Can’t Wait” (1977)
  72. New England – “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose You” (1978)
  73. Holly & the Italians – “Tell That Girl to Shut Up” (1981)
  74. Milk ‘N’ Cookies – “(Dee Dee You’re) Stuck on a Star” (1977)
  75. The Rutles – “I Must Be in Love” (1978)
  76. The Real Kids – “All Kindsa Girls” (1977)
  77. Tuff Darts – “Who’s Been Sleeping Here?” (1978)
  78. Sneakers – “Love’s Like a Cuban Crisis” (1976)
  79. The Pleasers – “Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio” (1977)
  80. The Revillos – “Where’s the Boy for Me?” (1979)
  81. Pearl Harbor & the Explosions – “You Got It (Release It)” (1980)
  82. Prix – “Love You Tonight (Saturday’s Gone)” (1979)
  83. Robin Lane & the Chartbusters – “When Things Go Wrong” (1980)
  84. Small Faces – “Itchyoo Park” (1968)
  85. Yankee Rose – “I’m Gonna Lose” (1980)
  86. The Flashcubes – “Christi Girl” (1978)
  87. The Radiators – “Let’s Talk About the Weather” (1979)
  88. Rick Springfield – “We’re Gonna Have a Good Time” (1974)
  89. The Undertones – “Get Over You” (1978)
  90. Ducks Deluxe – “Hearts on My Sleeve” (1974)
  91. Hawks – “I Want You, I Need You” (1980)
  92. The Pop – “Leather and Lace” (1977)
  93. NRBQ – “I Want You Bad” (1978)
  94. DB Cooper – “Had Enough” (1980)
  95. The Miamis – “I Want a Girlfriend” (1976)
  96. Richard Lloyd – “Should Have Known Better” (1979)
  97. Nick Gilder – “Hot Child in the City” (1978)
  98. The Motors – “Dancing the Night Away” (1977)
  99. The Rings – “My Kinda Girl” (1980)
  100. Shaun Cassidy – “Pretending” (1980)

Yes, long-time readers, I have once again landed Cheap Trick at the top spot. Get off my back, the song is undeniably the best, and the best is the only one from the genre in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I hope you enjoyed a couple of the surprises I put in the list.


[Editor’s notes: (1) The song at #100 written by Todd Rundgren, who produced that artist’s album from 1980. It was a huge surprise. (2) The artist listed at #94 is NOT the infamous jet airplane hijacker from the early Seventies. (3) Yes, you saw that correctly at #88. Rick Springfield actually had a recording career BEFORE he joined the cast of General Hospital. (4) The band at #64 is something of a supergroup, since it has both Dave Edmunds AND Nick Lowe as members with the band playing backup on each artists’ solo albums, then trading vocals on the supergroup’s album. (5) Last one, I promise. Chicago and the surrounding areas have become something of a fertile area for Power Pop bands over the years. Artists from the Second City-area include Cheap Trick, Pezband, Off Broadway, Shoes, Material Issue, OK Go, Green, Veruca Salt, Tinted Windows and Rise Against, just to list a few.]

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

2 thoughts on “Alternative Music History Lesson #5: The Golden Age of Power Pop – 60s & 70s”

  1. A public challenge? Accepted!
    Afterall, the onus is on Spotify, not me.
    Keller’s Power Pop

    1) As has been the case with all the Spotify playlists we’ve shared, this one may not contain the songs in the versions you prefer such as single vs. album edit or which mix of “Rock N Roll High School” etc.

    B) As for your picks themselves, I’d go with Rick Springfield’s “Take A Hand”, Nick Gilder’s “Here Comes The Night” and “Good Girls Don’t” from The Knack instead of the songs you chose from those artists and I’d add the Bay City Rollers “Rock N Roll Love Letter”. Maybe The Records version as well. And also Tim Moore’s original recording. I absolutely obsess over this song weekly.

    third) Why does it say 60s & 70s if you included songs from the 50s and 80s?


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