Nothing shakes some action like a snappy guitar-based pop song delivered with a powerful beat, boundless energy and joyous enthusiasm.
“Power pop is what we play,” declared Pete Townshend in a 1967 interview to promote the Who’s ‘Pictures Of Lily’. Although the term power pop did not gain much traction at the time, it re-emerged at the beginning of the 70s after the Beatles had dissolved and music began to fracture into various camps.
In the USA, bands that remained true to the Beatles tradition began to be referred to as power pop. The Raspberries set the ball rolling in 1972, and young bands began to spring up who really only wanted to sing about girls and having a good time on Saturday night. As the 70s wore on, the new wave had an ever-growing influence on the movement, and even the Ramones donned skinny ties long enough to back up harmony pop masters the Paley Brothers on a thrilling update of Ritchie Valens’ ‘Come On Let’s Go’.
The power pop movement never really caught on in the UK, principally because the highly influential mainstream music press were first centred on progressive rock, and then completely consumed by the arrival of punk. Even the mighty Raspberries failed to crack the UK Top 50, while Cheap Trick scored one lowly entry and only the Knack managed to hit the Top 10. US fans were fortunate in having publications such as Creem, Trouser Press and Who Put The Bomp staffed by maverick writers with diverse voices. Greg and Suzy Shaw were especially supportive of groups such as the Flamin’ Groovies, Rubinoos and Dwight Twilley Band, not only with their magazine but, once their Bomp! record label was formed, by putting out singles by the Romantics, Shoes, 20/20, Gary Charlson and others.
Pure pop bliss is provided by the Toms on their richly melodic ‘Better Than Anyone Else’, while the Dwight Twilley Band go ‘Looking For The Magic’ with breathless energy and insistent determination. The Romantics kick up a storm on ‘What I Like About You’ – its hectic rhythm guitar, squealing harmonica, and raw Beatles-like vitality making it an absolute killer. Staten Island’s Dirty Looks deliver their paean to rock’n’roll, ‘Let Go’, with the same energy and drive that any punk band would have been proud to muster, while the Tweeds nail our musical addiction in one with ‘I Need That Record’. Also included is the Flamin’ Groovies’ original US version of ‘Shake Some Action’, which Cyril Jordan claims is their best ever recording and we are not arguing.
“Come On Let’s Go!” presents us with a smorgasbord of power pop classics, obscurities and left-field gems – collective proof that nothing shakes some action like a snappy guitar-based pop song delivered with a powerful beat, boundless energy and joyous enthusiasm.