My love of power pop music began in the early-Seventies. I distinctly remember hearing the Raspberries, Badfinger and Todd Rundgren on the conservative radio station that my parents listened to in the car. These songs would be the manna in between songs by such non-rockers (whom I appreciate more today than back in the day) as The Association, Bread, Carpenters and the 5th Dimension. Then, as I got older, the whole new wave/punk thing began to happen, and power pop bands like Cheap Trick, The Knack and The Romantics all got thrown into that broad category. Still, the power pop of my teen years was built upon a Raspberries/Big Star foundation and grew from there.
Nowadays, power pop is not all jangly guitars and Hollies harmonies. Today, anything that has a pop melody underneath crunching guitars is power pop. The category may be difficult to define, but when you hear it, you immediately know its power pop you are listening to.
In order to honor those major, and minor, power pop artists in history, I will continue my Top 100 Favorite Power Pop Albums of All-Time list. Today, I present to you, my loyal reader, numbers 51 through 75.
75. Tracey Ullman – You Broke My Heart in 17 Places (1983).
74. The Bears – The Bears (1987). During the first half of the Eighties, one of Cincinnati’s most beloved rock bands was a power pop group called The Raisins. One day, world-class guitar hotshot, Adrian Belew, who has just finished a run of work with such artists as Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club and a reconstituted King Crimson, ventured back to his Northern Kentucky roots across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. It was during that time that he hooked up with the guys from The Raisins, rechristened themselves as The Bears and gained power pop immortality upon the release of their debut album in 1987.
73. Blue Ash – No More, No Less (1973). This northeastern Ohio band has helped Cleveland to stake claim as the power pop capital of the world. Another city may disagree: Chicago. More on that later.
72. Arlo – Stab the Unstoppable Hero (2002).
71. Cotton Mather – Kontiki (1999).
70. Jane Wiedlin – Jane Wiedlin (1985).
69. The Grays – Ro Sham Bo (1994)
68. Ken Sharp – New Mourning (2016). Ken Sharp is not only a terrific power pop musician, but it also a top-notch rock journalist and author of several books, including those about KISS, Eric Carmen and a four-volume series about Power Pop artists entitled Power Pop Heroes.
67. SOMERDALE – Shake It Maggie (2016).
66. Greg Kihn Band – Rockihnroll (1981).
65. Eytan Mirsky – Funny Money (2016).
64. The Blow Pops – Charmed I’m Sure (1993).
63. Jeremy – Pop Explosion (2008).
62. P. Hux – Deluxe (1995).
61. The Yum Yums – Singles ‘N Stuff (2001).
60. The Spongetones – Beat & Torn (1994).
59. The La’s – The La’s (1990).
58. The Lambrettas – Beat Boys in the Jet Age (1980).
57. Enuff Z’Nuff – Favorites (2004).
56. Emmit Rhodes – Emmit Rhodes (1970).
55. David Brookings & the Average Lookings – David Brookings & the Average Lookings (2016).
54. Chris von Sneidern – Big White Lies (1994).
53. Phil Seymour – Phil Seymour (1980).
52. Splittsville – The Complete Pet Soul (2001).
51. The New Pornographers – Mass Romantic (2000).
Now, we are half way done with this list! FYI: This is a big week for album releases. New releases by Beck, St. Vincent, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Robert Plant, P!nk, AND Tegan & Sara. That list will normally constitute a good month, but we are talking about all of this potentially great music being released on a single day is flat-out crazy! Then, next week, Cheap Trick is releasing a Christmas album (most people are groaning, while the Christmas music collector in me is doubly excited). Finally, at the end of the month, Weezer is releasing a brand new album. But, Friday the 13th is THE day for new music.
Long live rock!