The Suspense Breaks

by Belle Waring on January 29, 2014

What Todd Rundgren song is my favorite power pop song you ask? Which? Which Todd Rundgren song?! Clamor has been building up on the blog for some time now. I really thought that would have been obvious, but tastes differ an all. It’s: Couldn’t I Just Tell You. What happens that’s very special? At 2:40 things quiet down; 2:50 all the instruments cut out except the guitar, pretty much, and then they come back, in the form of the drummer coming in and knocking the entire kit over in the business at 2:59. (This latter, by the way, is the perfect length for a song according to The Clash’s Hitsville UK, which notes that “the band went in/and knocked ‘em dead/in two minutes fifty-nine.” I loved this song inordinately when I was young, even though in retrospect it sort of has an excess of singers and maybe xylophones or something. No, wait, definitely an excess of xylophones.) The outro has a perfect bend you weren’t expecting.

There’s a playground near John’s parents’ house and I remember going there with his mom and letting her play with then-toddler Zoë while I swung on the swings, pumping my legs back and forth under the overcast, metronome back and forth and just hitting << when the song ended, for more than half an hour. This soft/loud thing at 2:40 sq is a classic power pop move, and in general: having a killer bridge, being relatively short, and not overusing your “rock trick” are the keys to power pop awesome IME. (This track has 16 sec of Todd & co forgetting to start playing after the guitar intro and exhaling bong/nitrous hits at the start, making it in truth a deceptively slim 3:19. It was put out in 1973, a time when people thought things like “sure, keep the tape rolling while you guys do whippets” and “let’s give Todd Rundgren the money to make a double-album!” seemed like good ideas.)

What if I just randomly played other power pop songs from the 90s, 2000-2010 (noting is springing to mind for the last three years) that pulled these moves off well even though it digressed from my 70s-80s power pop thing and put off my epic discussion of the metaphysics of Cheap Trick? What then? Could I get you to argue about that? Or about Todd Rundgren sucking? I feel as if this were a challenge to my blogging powers. If I can possibly induce anyone to argue about Todd Rundgren, well. Oh, shit I could get you to argue about The Strokes thought right? That would be tedious and idiotic of you. DONT BOTHER.


3:06 bitchez. They use the chorus only three times, and once is as the bridge. To be fair, they also dispense with the verses at that point. Economical. The tune is beautiful, also, and the if the ‘90s ever did anything for pop music, it was to teach it how to use LOUDsoftLOUD effectively. So much so that if you do not start feeling love for all humanity prickle your skin with life (or black bile springing forth to water the hateful roots of your soul, as preferred) at 1:10, then—at least, in the name of all that is holy (or, as I say, profane, mutatis etc.) at 2:05 and the rejoining of the remaining instruments—then…then…well, aren’t we the difficult one.

There may be are prolly more purely power-poppish New Pornographers songs, but this one has always been dear to me because in a way they only use the rock trick once. Repeatedly, granted, but only at the end.
Matthew Sweet: in the classic Chuck Klosterman article “10 Most Accurately Rated Bands of All Time”, Matthew Sweet made it on like so, “every Matthew Sweet album has only one goodsong, and this good song is inevitably the first single, and thissingle is always utterly perfect (“Sick of Myself” off 100% Fun, “Where You Get Love” off Blue Sky on Mars, “Girlfriend” off Girlfriend, etc.). He sells enough albums to live comfortably, and that seems reasonable.” This is not entirely fair. Way more of the songs on 100% Fun are good. Like this one, “Get Older.” Also other songs.

“Get Older” is a short, sweet, sad, song that helped me not kill myself for a while, and what else can you really say that’s better than that?


Oh yeah I did.

{ 145 comments }

1

AcademicLurker 01.29.14 at 4:41 pm

…put off my epic discussion of the metaphysics of Cheap Trick?

Please don’t put this off for too long. The world needs more such discussions.

2

arw 01.29.14 at 5:24 pm

Suggested segue (an ancient art based on human musical skills with recorded vinyl that doesn’t involve beat counts. And get off my lawn!), launch into “Even the Losers” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers blisteringly sonic debut – Damn The Torpedoes.

Oh, and obligatory Todd is God.

3

Anon 01.29.14 at 5:54 pm

I’d never thought of the Strokes as power-pop. Maybe I just couldn’t see past the in your face Lou Reed-Iggy Poppiness. But I can maybe see it in Someday, which has that wonderful bittersweet ache of my favorite Big Star songs.

4

Straightwood 01.29.14 at 6:10 pm

Someone needs to tell you this, Belle. Displaying a breadth of bad taste is still showing bad taste. These wannabe/never-was/rightly-forgotten bands may generate a lot of nostalgia, but what you are playing is mostly derivative, undistinguished and boring music. There were a few giants on the pop scene, like David Bowie, but the rest will vanish without a trace.

What’s next? Rare baseball cards? Bottle cap collections? Obscure East German cars? You need to find subjects that are congruent with your writing talents. Say goodbye to the dusty bins of forgotten vinyl. Find a song worthy of your voice.

5

otpup 01.29.14 at 6:13 pm

I loved! this TR song in h.s. Thanks so much for reminding me of that.

6

Ronan(rf) 01.29.14 at 6:25 pm

I dont want this to lend credence to anything else straightwood says (as I am generally agnostic re his continuing jihad) But I agree in respect Bowie, fwiw.
In fact I love the man

7

Ronan(rf) 01.29.14 at 6:26 pm

Not that Im claiming my imprimatur is a mark of credence, just you know..

8

Ronan(rf) 01.29.14 at 6:38 pm

also, I use Jihad here in the conventional way:as a personal struggle etc

9

godoggo 01.29.14 at 6:57 pm

Oh, you mean like his Kampf.

10

Ronan(rf) 01.29.14 at 7:01 pm

Precisely

11

roy belmont 01.29.14 at 7:33 pm

Any discussion of Todd Rundgren’s worth that doesn’t begin with or clearly reference somehow his cover of Brian Wilson & Co’s “Good Vibrations” and its (his) achievement of technical cover perfection, its humble aesthetic loyalty, its dutiful master-craftsman’s fulfillment of responsibility to rock and roll, the indisputable solid demonstration that he really heard it, is just small talk waiting for something else to happen.

12

Count Fosco 01.29.14 at 8:26 pm

Belle, have you listened to any Game Theory? Scott Miller was very inspired by the power-pop side of Todd Rundgren. (And, for that matter, the New Pornographers were inspired by Game Theory.) Also, I think you might like the Matthew Sweet/Susanna Hoffs cover collaborations (Under the Covers volumes I, II, and III); their taste in songs to cover is perfect in a power poppy way.

13

Jeffrey Davis 01.29.14 at 8:26 pm

Moby Grape “Fall on You”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkyHfnV_gYc

Good riff, great harmonies, nice counter rhythm in the bass, lead guitar sounds like a snake, and nobody else drums like that.

1:57

14

terminatemycommand 01.29.14 at 8:44 pm

Straightwood: I, too, at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century.
Cough.

Needs more Big Star.

15

js. 01.29.14 at 8:51 pm

Seconding AcademicLurker here—need epic discussion of metaphysics of Cheap Trick! (Just for the record, I am a mereological nihilist on the question of Cheap Trick.)

16

oldster 01.29.14 at 9:29 pm

David Lewis is already on record on this question.

Suppose that you want to uphold the truthmaker-principle, even for negative existentials. What makes it true that there are no unicorns? Well, ordinary things do, when suitably described by qua-qualifiers. E.g., one of the things that makes it true that there are no unicorns is the Eiffel Tower, qua unaccompanied by unicorns.

At which move, Lewis protests: “Cheap Trick!”

17

Trader Joe 01.29.14 at 9:34 pm

I’ll take the bait.

When I think about the great artists and musicians that came out of TRs era, I probably wouldn’t put him in my top 50…probably top 100, but not top 50.

I’ll give full props for the diversity of talents – writer, producer, multiple instruments, but I’d make the argument that while he contributed to the success of many, many good songs/groups he was quite often the utility infielder or a relief pitcher to a group that was otherwise reasonably stout and just needed either better material or maybe a better power chord (or something) to make them interesting. Not awesome necessarily, but interesting. Moved them from the ‘Do not play list’ to the ‘good until you’re tired of it” list.

The Allman Brothers, Bowie, The Band, The Doors (and that’s just through the Ds) all trump TRs nomadic musings and banal bordering on repetitive power licks.

I’ve probably sufficiently provoked the wrath of Belle by now, but want to only add – its not that I dislike TR in the least. He’s an excellent musician, a product of his era and many more superlatives. Something/Anything is a worthy add to any collection and is probably worth a nostalgic listen-to every now and again – but its not a go to. Not when there are so many other great acts to come out of that era.

18

js. 01.29.14 at 9:47 pm

I went looking for this and realized for the 50th time that I cannot keep Todd Rundgren straight from Ted Nugent. Is that just wrong? It probably is, isn’t it? Guess I don’t know much about Rundgren. (Thanks for the Teenage Fanclub song—so good!)

@oldster: that’s great—cheers.

19

bob mcmanus 01.29.14 at 10:01 pm

It was all downhill after the Nazz.

20

oldster 01.29.14 at 10:03 pm

Thanks, js.

I thought you might like it, what with you being a logical nary-a-meal-missed or whatever it was you said.

21

otpup 01.29.14 at 11:43 pm

TR is a mad pop genius (see A Wizard A True Star).

I don’t know if there was dissing of Teenage Fan Club and New Pornographers etc going on. If there was, these people (and others in indie/alternative) produce pop music as intricate, thoughtful, experimental as anything Bowie has done (and I am a big Bowie fan). The difference is that the game has been upped. To Bowie’s credit, he is one of the giants whose shoulders these later acts are standing on.

22

godoggo 01.30.14 at 12:11 am

Well, I’d have to hear some (different) examples before I’d agree with you about that. I pretty much don’t listen to indie rock because, aside from just not liking the sound of it, I tend to find it pretty uninteresting compositionally. Mostly for recent rock I like pretty extreme experimental stuff, and for “songs” I look to other genres.

Not that I dislike any of those songs. They’re OK.

23

The Temporary Name 01.30.14 at 12:13 am

I never really liked Carl’s singing in The New Pornographers, though he’s bright and creative and very funny. He sounds so tentative.

That is one fine Todd Rundgren song.

Also:

24

godoggo 01.30.14 at 12:40 am

The thing about Bowie is he likes to play around with melody and harmony. It doesn’t always make sense, and in fact I don’t even like the majority of his records, especially since he stopped wearing dresses onstage, but he still manages to come up with something as inventive as this every once in a while:

25

The Temporary Name 01.30.14 at 12:47 am

Which songs of Bowie’s would count as power-pop? At the moment I draw a blank.

26

godoggo 01.30.14 at 12:55 am

Hey, I ‘m not the one who brought him up.

27

js. 01.30.14 at 1:08 am

And ‘Someday’ is a great song. Surely we’re well past the Strokes backlash by now?

28

Tony Lynch 01.30.14 at 1:27 am

Maye The Jean Genie squeezes into Power Pop?

29

Belle Waring 01.30.14 at 2:14 am

Todd Rundgren is not, per se, an awesome artist. I didn’t say he was. That’s why it was a stupid idea to let him do whipits on tape and press a gatefold double album. It’s just: this is a really good power pop song.

Everything David Bowie does is so insane and remote and technically perfect and marvelous and was probably made by an actual alien with access to superior music technology that he doesn’t have any power pop songs, although I think “Rebel Rebel” is the closest analogue. I believe I have mentioned that I love this song dearly even though it was my step-dad’s fave (one of, OK, but charted very high) and he used to sing it to me all the time. All the time. God, when I was like 13, seriously, shut the fuck up. I may never have mentioned what a terrible person he was, but let me just say how elated I was for a moment when I heard his second suicide attempt succeeded. Very unfortunate for my sister, though, so I wasn’t overall happy, and there’s no good can come being happy over a thing like that. His second attempt in as many days. I think that often the “it was only a cry for help” thing is just confusion caused by quick access to Emergency Medical Care. Some people don’t want their damn stomachs pumped.

Also, Straightwood, I appreciate that you are keeping the wood straight and all, as per your family motto recte ex tuba lignea (the signature war trumpet of the Romans being straight, as you naturally know) but you cannot possibly think it would be interesting for me to post on a blog about how “Five Years” is a song of indescribable beauty. I mean, no shit Sherlock. And what is your end-game here? You will eventually, by dint of the sheer weight of trollery, stop me from posting about power-pop on this blog? And? You will have gained? I’m not seeing the pay-off, frankly. I suppose you convinced me to talk to you for this long, so, well played already, I guess. Well-played.

Everyone, for real, that Teenage Fanclub song is amazing and incredible and all that schwazaa. I didn’t happen to be depressed during the time I listened to that song a lot, so it never got a chance to save my life but it could have been a contender! Instead it just makes my chest feel tight with happiness. When they do the soft part of the LOUDsoftLOUD they have this little rhythm instrument in there that I can’t think what it’s called, I can only think of a guiro because that’s what Bowie uses in “The Man Who Sold The World”, but this is like a little thing you run your thumb over the edge and it just chirps. So sweet.

30

Straightwood 01.30.14 at 2:30 am

31

Kevin 01.30.14 at 2:35 am

Sort of off topic except for it includes something about Todd Rundgren: Allison Krauss’s version of “It wouldn’t have made any difference” is a really, really great sad, just got crushed by love song.

32

MG 01.30.14 at 5:05 am

My favorite Todd Rundgren album is “Back to the Bars”, much of it taped at the great Cleveland Agora, hangout of my teen years. “A Dream Goes on Forever” SLAYS me.

33

godoggo 01.30.14 at 5:22 am

I mentioned this in the other power pop thread, now here’s the video. You gotta love it, there’s no other option.

34

sbk 01.30.14 at 7:04 am

Game Theory covered “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” on the same album as “Erica’s Word”.

35

Belle Waring 01.30.14 at 8:57 am

Cool recs, guys! Yes, I do like the Matthew Sweet/Susannah Thingface covers album OK, I guess I only ever listened to one. Did Straightwood say something horrible and get modded by the alert, or just fail basic commenting? I don’t think of him as so much the horrible, so I’m interested. Except on the dick-swinging of the literary giants threads. There, much dick-swinging occurred. At least 35% mine, so, I’m not judging you I’m still judging you anyway.

36

Straightwood 01.30.14 at 2:00 pm

Nothing horrible was said. I tried to embed Bowie’s definitive rendition of Rebel, Rebel from the Reality Tour and Nothing Happened. For a BSD, there is nothing worse than the rage of impotence! I beg you, Belle, show me the secret of embedding YouTube videos. Have mercy!

37

Dave Maier 01.30.14 at 4:24 pm

I lost touch with Bowie after his unfortunate regression to the pop norm of “Let’s Dance” (coming as it did after “Heroes”/Low/Lodger/Scary Monsters), so maybe there’s some power pop since then, but yes, “Rebel Rebel” is a good call (it’s that riff). Maybe “TVC-15″ would also work?

Not sure how it will manifest here in discussion of Bowie and Todd, but wasn’t Straightwood the guy who argued (in that literature thread) that symphonies are ipso facto better than string quartets *because there are more instruments playing*? (I can’t remember whether he used Beethoven’s symphonies as an example, or just that that composer’s work, as someone else pointed out, is the crushing counterexample to the thesis. Anyway.)

38

Tony Lynch 01.31.14 at 2:07 am

Well, I think it is just a brute fact that 2 guitars are better than one guitar.

39

Belle Waring 01.31.14 at 2:10 am

Dave M.: Yep, pretty sure that’s him.
Man of wood that is not in any way deviant: I’ve never done it before, as it happens. Put in some words, return, then the youtube embed code, then some more words of your own on a third line? Dunno. I’ll go look up the clip myself so I can see the ass-kickery. As I say, my step-dad won’t be assisting on vocals, which improves the song just immeasurably.

40

Belle Waring 01.31.14 at 2:11 am

THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT—WITH GUITARS!

41

Straightwood 01.31.14 at 2:19 am

OK, here goes – “Rebel, Rebel” from the killer DVD of the Dublin Concert of Bowie’s 2004 Reality Tour:

42

Straightwood 01.31.14 at 2:24 am

OK, time for debug mode. Here is the YouTube embed HTML with opening and closing brackets removed:

iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/eF551z9KlA8?feature=player_detailpage” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe

WTF is this not working?

The YouTube link is:

43

Belle Waring 01.31.14 at 2:29 am

OMG godoggo you did post that in the other thread and I didn’t listen to it, which was wrong and foolish, because the madness is swirling and confusing and awesome and strong in that song. Keep on rocking me, dude. I also appreciate your actually giving a shit about music.

I’m not posting all this music to look fancy, people, it’s because I love music, and I love to share it with other people, and here you all are! And if you don’t like it scroll past! Or listen to it and explain why you don’t like Teenage Fanclub in some fashion other than “the cool kids don’t like music anymore. You’re embarrassing everyone by liking music.” EXPLANATORY FAIL. Needs moar references to subject matter at hand.

Finally, John suggests the little chirping thing that I think is a little African rhythm instrument you give kids to play in 5th grade in public school, where you maybe pull a stick along a toothed edge? In the Teenage Fanclub song is just someone playing the guitar with all the strings muted. Finally finally, maybe next time I’ll just tell you about things that are self-evidently good and which you already like. BO DIDDLEY IS AN EXCELLENT MUSICIAN, Y’ALL. HE ‘PLAYS THAT GUITAR LIKE A DRUM.’

44

Straightwood 01.31.14 at 2:34 am

(As the cartoon bubble lightbulb comes on over his head) – you don’t use the YouTube embed code; you just paste in the plain old URL. The power of CT video links is mine!
Listen to this, Belle!

45

dn 01.31.14 at 2:53 am

Ah, a fellow Television fan. I don’t know anything about Todd Rundgren but I will gladly listen to the guitars of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd for pretty much as long as you’d like.

46

Belle Waring 01.31.14 at 3:02 am

I’ll listen to Television all day and all night also. Perhaps we can negotiate ourselves into a shared state of music blogging happiness.

47

Belle Waring 01.31.14 at 3:03 am

Wait, how do we feel about Pere Ubu? Lighters are lit and being held aloft, I hope?

48

Barry Freed 01.31.14 at 3:17 am

I see your Pere Ubu (and I’ve seen Pere Ubu, being a huge fan) and I raise you a Red C(K)rayola

49

Barry Freed 01.31.14 at 3:18 am

50

Barry Freed 01.31.14 at 3:23 am

Don’t know why it embedded Soldier Talk and not Hurricane Fighter Plane but here, have a little Red Crayola with Art & Language featuring Gina Birch and Lora Logic. Some really great stuff here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo%3F#Track_listing

51

mdc 01.31.14 at 3:24 am

‘Someday’ is beautiful. They could write damn fine bridges. (Unlike some otherwise marvelous 70s rock giants I can think of. I’ve paid good money for every one of his albums and love them, but it’s sort of true.) I do think the Strokes may be one of the most underrated overrated bands ever, and this dialectic is useful to ponder in their case precisely because it helps one dispense forever with the insidious poison that is the concept ‘over-rated.’

52

Barry Freed 01.31.14 at 3:27 am

I mean how can any CT’er worth their salt not love songs with titles such as
Portrait of V. I. Lenin in the Style of Jackson Pollock, Part I,
Born to Win (Transactional Analysis With Gestalt Experiments), The Principles of Party Organisation, The Mistake of Trotsky or Plekhanov?

53

MG 01.31.14 at 4:27 am

Of course, at the same time I was rocking out to Todd, I was completely digging this the Avengers:

54

Dave Maier 01.31.14 at 4:27 am

Television, Pere Ubu, now we’re talking. Also Gang of Four. And I will see your Red Crayola (never liked them actually) and raise you David Thomas solo records with Richard Thompson.

55

godoggo 01.31.14 at 4:47 am

My fave Avengers song is Corpus Christi. Here’s the vi… eh, you find it if you want.

56

godoggo 01.31.14 at 4:51 am

Oh, what the hell.

57

js. 01.31.14 at 7:13 pm

I am loving this post-punk detour this thread has taken! Since Pere Ubu was mentioned but not linked, thought I’d right this:

58

js. 01.31.14 at 7:23 pm

Unrelatedly, am I the only one who thinks that the greatest 90’s power pop band is maybe GBV? Or is it too much power and not enough pop:

59

js. 01.31.14 at 9:47 pm

PS: Apologies if the title of the last is offensive. You can delete it if it is.

60

Michael Harris 02.01.14 at 12:24 am

Another for GBV here. Like the overexcited spawn of a Big Star-The Who one night stand.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZsi9uEOJLg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9J-V6AGuA2k

61

Michael Harris 02.01.14 at 12:25 am

Dangit. Trying those again.

62

Michael Harris 02.01.14 at 12:26 am

63

The Temporary Name 02.01.14 at 12:40 am

The first two songs off this are awfully good in a row.

http://html5.grooveshark.com/#!/album/very-very-powerful-motor/2355982

64

godoggo 02.01.14 at 1:20 am

Here’s some post-punk from China.

65

godoggo 02.01.14 at 1:43 am

j.s., you’ve shown an interest in discussing music categories in several threads. I understand the purpose of categories, but personally don’t find them interesting in themselves. I suppose others here might.

66

godoggo 02.01.14 at 1:59 am

In fact, I’m thinking about compiling a complete list of topics I do and do not find interesting for the benefit of all the other commenters here.

67

Belle Waring 02.01.14 at 4:11 am

Dave Maier: Let’s Dance is secretly (well, openly), an excellent song and a pretty good album. It does have an apparently impenetrable glossy patina of reversion to pop norms, and Bowie himself felt distanced from it at the time, but it was a ground-breaking hybrid album at the time, with blues elements among the arsenal of synths and machine-like drums (if not drum-machines) that dominated production at the time, and Modern Love is another excellent track.

68

Belle Waring 02.01.14 at 4:30 am

godoggo: knock yourself out. I like your can-do spirit. No seriously, you crack me up, man. Everyone, yeah, Guided By Voices is amazing–I was just going to post the Todd Rundgren song because our blog was going to die, but then I was like, kind of thin gruel, so I put in other songs I had been thinking about, but GBV got left out for no good reason. They are great.

69

Belle Waring 02.01.14 at 5:07 am

Oh, hey wait, godoggo, reccommend more music from China. All my friends in Singapore either 1) only listen to Western music 2) don’t listen to new music which eh whatever but it’s tedious of them or 3) have terrible taste in music. Make with the non-sucking, “LA”- era X-style Chinese rex. Plz. Thanks. But also singing in Mandarin! Well, like, it can be in Hakka obviously I don’t care. In fact, if you find me a kick-ass post-punk band that sings killer songs in Hakka I will personally pay you $100 USD. This goes for you too thingface. Woodboy. You know, Straightwood. C’mon, chisel $100 out of me. With the bank transfer costs it could be more, DBS reams you sometimes…This absolutely goes for hip-hop. I hear OK Mandarin hip-hop sometimes ambiently, but unless I can make the taxi driver understand everything in time to hear the DJ, (and sometimes they don’t announce in time), go ask those kids what the fuck, or whatever, it often does me little good. Now I am enjoying ambiently piano practice from upstairs, from a child who is enjoying her/himself and likes the tune and can play well. John and I and the then-young niblets liked on the same floor as a family with three sons who, in awesome (yet irritating for we collateral damage) passive resistance, practiced their instruments for at least an hour a day, but steadily and veeeerrry slightly got worse over a period of SEVEN YEARS. Yes. They did. Three nerdish, slightly overweight Chinese boys, two of whom wore glasses (well, originally only one, but brother #3 needed glasses starting at 8 or so). The worst was that one was doing the violin. He did not truly get worse, but dang he di’nt get better. Sundays were the most terrible. They practiced extra.

70

godoggo 02.01.14 at 5:13 am

Unfortunately the Chinese bands I’ve found that I like mostly sing in English.

71

godoggo 02.01.14 at 5:24 am

My favorite Chinese band calls themselves 8-Eye Spy (which I realize doesn’t exactly scream “not engaging in intellectual property theft” but they actually have a pretty original sound). Sometimes I can’t even tell what language they’re singing in, doesn’t sound even sound like any kind of Chinese. I think the most popular Chinese post-punk band (not my favorite) seems to be Carsick Cars. They mostly sing in English, but they do have some Mandarin songs.

72

godoggo 02.01.14 at 5:27 am

Anyways this label seems to have a lot of interesting bands:
http://maybemars.org/

73

godoggo 02.01.14 at 5:31 am

74

Belle Waring 02.01.14 at 5:38 am

Sweet, godoggo, I’ll check it out and then maybe owe you $100. ;-) Or at the very least, personal recognition as my favorite commenter. You are like the single least dickish commenter on the blog already, regardless of the quality of the music rex. But what’s up with e’erybody else? Do I have rose-colored glasses on about the past and everyone was always already a dick or what even? I don’t know; I’m feeling morose about people.

75

Martin Bento 02.01.14 at 10:44 am

Well, Belle, if you want international leads, and since Ubu and Television have already found their way into this thread, have you heard of the Russian band Auktyon?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPNFGRhlJfw

They started in the 80s, so are no longer kids, but have kind of classic status in Russia. Still coming out with great new material though. And their ears are all over the place – began with post-punk, but went in every direction from there. There are no one or two tracks that capture their breadth.

76

Martin Bento 02.01.14 at 11:00 am

So why did the URL not magically become an embed? I thought that’s what other people said would happen.

77

Michael Harris 02.01.14 at 1:39 pm

The laydeez do powerpop too.

78

Michael Harris 02.01.14 at 1:49 pm

And this one JUST came on the teev…

79

Dave Maier 02.01.14 at 4:21 pm

Thanks for your reply Belle! I sort of defer to your judgment about Let’s Dance, but for context:

a) we had been waiting for the follow-up to Scary Monsters for two whole years, and when it finally comes out … it’s a poppy dance record called Let’s Dance no less. It felt like a retreat, a repudiation, an affront; and by the time I might have been ready to hear it properly (that is, as you do) I was not listening to that sort of thing at all (and still am not, alas).

b) w/r/t it being a ground-breaking hybrid album at the time, with blues elements among the arsenal of synths and machine-like drums (if not drum-machines), that’s nothing the criminally underrated Bill Nelson hadn’t already done better.

Anyway, that’s how we saw things at the time.

80

Stillcenter 02.01.14 at 7:40 pm

Keep the $100, Belle. Chinese punk? It is to laugh. It’s time for a new direction – Femrock:

81

Stillcenter 02.01.14 at 7:54 pm

82

Stillcenter 02.01.14 at 8:02 pm

83

js. 02.01.14 at 8:02 pm

j.s., you’ve shown an interest in discussing music categories in several threads. I understand the purpose of categories, but personally don’t find them interesting in themselves.

Is cool, godoggo. You didn’t even have to respond to my comment at all. Anyway, unrelated to pretty much everything:

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js. 02.01.14 at 8:04 pm

@Michael Harris:

Thanks. “Cheyenne” is an excellent song that I hadn’t listened to in a while. (“Motor Away” is a longstanding favorite—almost linked it myself.)

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Stillcenter 02.01.14 at 8:06 pm

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Chris Bertram 02.01.14 at 8:10 pm

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MG 02.01.14 at 8:12 pm

@godoggo — Can the category just be “music I like?” Or maybe just songs with major chords? Or pop music?

@davidmaier — I forgot about the number of instruments = better music theory.

A song I like is this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhhOMceBJv8

Which is also(!) this song:

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Stillcenter 02.01.14 at 8:24 pm

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godoggo 02.01.14 at 8:32 pm

Stillcenter, much relevant reading here:
http://alicebag.blogspot.com/search?q=punk+feminism

All-girl Chinese post-punk band Ourself Beside Me (again, sorry for the Engrish):

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Stillcenter 02.01.14 at 8:52 pm

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js. 02.01.14 at 8:56 pm

Also, I don’t know any Chinese rock unfortunately, but here’s some Vietnamese something or other:

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godoggo 02.01.14 at 9:02 pm

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godoggo 02.01.14 at 9:08 pm

I saw those chicks at Wayne Shorter’s birthday concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Absolutely flew the dudes off the stage.

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godoggo 02.01.14 at 9:09 pm

blew

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Martin Bento 02.01.14 at 9:22 pm

stillcenter, Joan Jett, Blondie, Fleetwood Mac are a new direction? Maybe you just got here. That music has been around for a long time and all those artists have had big hits, including what you posted. I’m sure people here already have their opinions of them, and I doubt if they are “new” to anyone. Which is fine, I’m not one for glorifying music just because it is obscure and can therefore feel like an exclusive taste, and most of what I listen to is not in recently-invented styles, but announcing this stuff as some sort of new style is puzzling to me.

Speaking of Blondie, though, I think Harry’s better band was The Jazz Passengers. In fact, I think they were even better doing Blondie songs. To wit (I’ll try regular youtube embed this time)

Always wanted to hear reggae bass lines on an upright.

Chinese punk is intriguing.

To me, The Love Me Nots are pure surf punk, but it occurs to me that the main difference between them and power pop may be that they’re louder and have a different fashion sense.

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Stillcenter 02.01.14 at 9:25 pm

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Martin Bento 02.01.14 at 9:26 pm

OK, stillcenter put some other stuff up. And youtube embed failed. Here is the URL:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSUyU12DdQ8

The Love Me Not mention was intended as the start of another comment. But, in any case, here are the Love Me Nots.

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Martin Bento 02.01.14 at 9:31 pm

Oops, left playlist checked. I just wanted to embed Do What You Do, not the whole playlist. I’ll have to come back when I have time to be a little more careful.

And since it did embed, I’ll try again with the Passengers:

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Martin Bento 02.01.14 at 9:33 pm

No time to figure this out now. Here is the URL for Love Me Nots.

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godoggo 02.01.14 at 9:35 pm

I’m not sure if “reggae bass lines on an upright” was intended as a description of that last video I posted (it was a Weather Report tune) (if so, it’s nice to know that people are watching videos other than their own postst), but anyway, here’s some classic reggae-jazz from Marc Johnson’s Bass Desires with Scofield and Frisell:

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godoggo 02.01.14 at 9:37 pm

I guess I meant “if not.”

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Stillcenter 02.01.14 at 9:39 pm

@94

As predicted by Sakaiya in his visionary book, “The Knowledge Value Revolution,” status in the modern era is measured by the conspicuous consumption of knowledge. Beer, coffee, and pop music are now playgrounds for the display of fine discrimination based on substantial accumulations of specialized knowledge. The more difficult this knowledge is to obtain, the higher the status of those who display it.

The direction in which I am pointing is orthogonal to the axis of minor band esoterica. It is paying homage to the feminine mystique in rock. As Belle would say, I’m not trying to impress anyone; I just like this music.

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godoggo 02.01.14 at 9:39 pm

I guess I din’t/

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godoggo 02.01.14 at 9:47 pm

I guess “orthogonal” is the new “shorter.”

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godoggo 02.01.14 at 9:52 pm

In other words #101 was one of those “dickish” comments someone mentioned above, as was, in retrospect, “Chinese punk, it is to laugh.”

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Stillcenter 02.01.14 at 10:22 pm

@104

If it is a proof of dickishness to say that A > B, then I would prefer to be dickish than dickless.

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Michael Harris 02.01.14 at 10:35 pm

Did this stop being a powerpop thread then?

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Stillcenter 02.01.14 at 11:01 pm

@106

No

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Stillcenter 02.01.14 at 11:11 pm

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Michael Harris 02.01.14 at 11:11 pm

No? OK, I wasn’t sure what to make of (e.g.) “Dreams”, which whatever it is, ain’t powerpop. So maybe it’s a powerpop-and-lots-of-other-stuff-as-well thread by now.

Anyway, I am glad I could help you get that femrock thing going back at #77. You’re welcome.

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godoggo 02.01.14 at 11:24 pm

Every discussion of music we’ve had has veered off a bit into people’s varying interests, and every one has also had a troll who has attacked the conversation. Hell, I’ve even posted one or two brief comments along those lines, although I daresay I’ve at least been unpretentious about it. But with someone who would lard up the discussion with a dozen videos of music that everybody already knows and act as though doing this were an Important Statement, the main question is what I could say that would not simply egg him on further.

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godoggo 02.01.14 at 11:31 pm

Conversely, I’ll be happy to stop if anybody objects to me unraveling the train or whatever.

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Stillcenter 02.01.14 at 11:35 pm

@110

Please tell me, godoggo, can unpretentiousness be learned? You see, I am trying to un-dick myself, and emulate the smooth, easy, agreeable, constructive posting flow of which you are a master. Perhaps I should take a lesson from Belle and include jagged fragments of personal broken glass in random messages so as to become less dickish and, you know, real. I will disturb your harmony no longer.

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godoggo 02.01.14 at 11:49 pm

That Love Me Nots song was pretty cool. Never heard of them.

Here’s the deal with embedding: if you paste the url, it will probably embed, but occasionally it doesn’t work and you just get a link, for whatever reason. If you past an embed code, you get nothing. If you don’t want to embed, you can use html for a link.

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godoggo 02.02.14 at 12:53 am

Belle, whenever you come back, perhaps you should recant that thing about me being the least dickish commenter here. It’s obviously untrue, and I suspect it’s what brought all this all this on.

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godoggo 02.02.14 at 1:23 am

Although it occurs to me that this might be taken as encouragement. Judgment call.

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Michael Harris 02.02.14 at 2:45 am

A bit of the subtext of the thread-drift away from powerpop seems to be that it is too fundamentally trivial a genre, populated by Too Few Artists of Real Significance or something.

Bollocks. Shall we revisit the ’60s?

What were the Beatles in their early days if not (whatever else they were) a great, and defining, powerpop outfit? “A Hard Day’s Night”? “If I Needed Someone”? The early Hollies basically aspired to be the Rubber Soul-era Beatles: “Look Through Any Windows”?

Move ahead a year or two and you encounter the wonderful Australian band, the Easybeats, who upped the power quotient in their pop. We all know “Friday On My mind”, but what about “Sorry” or “Wedding Ring”?

Everything so far sub-three minutes.

And, moving ahead a decade, are we really going to do this absent reference to the seminal Buzzcocks and Undertones?

The ’80s positively teemed with powerpop in its various forms and styles, particularly in the UK. I already played the Blondie-on-speed Primitives, but there was the Wedding Present, That Petrol Emotion, and the ubiquitous Smiths.

If you want to hear powerpop Songwriting As Art, try early ’80s trash-pop masters Hoodoo Gurus. This song (“I Want You Back”) has four distinct component parts; a 2-part verse, a pre-chorus, and a chorus, each of which is a stand-alone brief pop gem. This comes to a crashing crescendo, complete with guitar solo, all well before the 3-minute mark.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=842OqhEfU5E

Any of you think you can write a sub-3-minute piece of trash-pop genius like that, well, I’m in the running for the Fields Medal! Awesome!

/cranky /dickish

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roy belmont 02.02.14 at 3:00 am

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roy belmont 02.02.14 at 3:04 am

I personally don’t have any problem with Chinese punks bands singing in English. Especially when they talk English like this to begin with:
In an interview conducted in 2004 by Andrea Benvenuto of Women Rock, Wang was asked about the group’s feminist message and whether “addressing sexism fit[s] in with whatever desire you have to just be in a band and have fun.” She responded:

“There’re many things I’m not satisfied with in life, also about the relationship between the female and male. Because I’m not pleased with it, then I take my lyrics to reflect that rage. I think that will influence many people. In a new song I cite a part from the movie A Clockwork Orange: ‘What kind of world is it at all? Man on the moon, man spinning around the earth, and there is no attention paid to earthly law and all the normal.”
During this same interview, when asked about what it means to be punk, Wang’s response was:
“We’re not punk! NO!!!” No further explanation beyond that is given.

Wang is Gia W
vocalist from Hang On The Box
whose “no sexy” got moderated away from here before landing

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roy belmont 02.02.14 at 3:12 am

Hang On the Box

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roy belmont 02.02.14 at 3:17 am

Twice

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godoggo 02.02.14 at 3:27 am

I don’t mind it either. It’s just that Belle wanted something for he kids to practice Mandarin with, and I want the same, except for the “kids” part. I think she’s currently in Ourself Beside Me, whose influences are mostly classic British post-punk.

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godoggo 02.02.14 at 3:29 am

“she” not referring to Belle, in case that’s unclear.

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godoggo 02.02.14 at 4:00 am

Oops I’m wrong, they were formed by the guitarist from Hang In The Box, not the singer.

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Tony Lynch 02.02.14 at 4:00 am

Michael, you seem to be on solider ground than me here. Is this powerpop?

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Jacob McM 02.02.14 at 4:21 am

The Quick

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Jacob McM 02.02.14 at 4:22 am

Paul Collins’ Beat

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Jacob McM 02.02.14 at 4:23 am

The Pointed Sticks (not to be confused with the Pooh Sticks)

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Michael Harris 02.02.14 at 6:38 am

Tony Lynch, I could have subbed the Sports doing “Wedding Ring” in for the Easybeats, so yeah, taking a reasonably expansive (without being so broad as to be meaningless) view of powerpop, I’d have “Don’t Throw Stones” right in there.

Then, by the mid ’80s, we had thrash-pop to contend with!

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Martin Bento 02.02.14 at 8:26 am

Is this strictly a powerpop thread? Obviously, it’s up to Belle. Straightwood was being provocative in bringing in Television, but Belle saw his Television and raised him Pere Ubu (my lighter is up, Belle). So at that point, pretty much anything went. Then “Chinese punk” came in. If Belle wants people to stick to powerpop, she’ll say so, I’m sure, but so far she has not.So it’s free association.

godoggo, the “acoustic bass in reggae” comment referring to the Jazz Passengers cut I tried to embed. I liked what you posted, but would not call it reggae at all – it’s a straight ahead reading of a fusion tune. It was great though.

Trying again to embed the Jazz Passengers.

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Michael Harris 02.02.14 at 8:47 am

Oh, if we’re Jazz Passengering things up in here…

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Martin Bento 02.02.14 at 9:17 am

Stillcenter,

When the first thing out of your mouth in a thread is “Chinese punk. It is to laugh.”, it sounds like it might be an ethnic slur. Had you said “Punk. It is to laugh”, at least you would just be attacking a style. To make such a statement, you should have some pretty broad exposure to Chinese punk, so one might expect a demonstration of that to follow. Certainly, it would be hard to get such exposure if you pretty much just listen to the kinds of things that are all over the radio in Western countries, as Chinese punk is clearly not in that category. So having dismissed underground rock of one sixth the human race, you tell us the new direction that is needed and show us what commands your attention and what you consider a new direction: a lot of songs from decades ago, most of which are familiar to everyone. Part of the point of a thread like this is that people introduce one another to music that may be unfamiliar to them. It is not just about obscure artists. Belle started with Todd Rundgren and also mentioned Cheap Trick. Neither are obscure artists, but she didn’t post “Hello It’s Me” and “I Want You to Want Me”. Guess why.

So then you sneer that we are just digging up obscure artists as part of a status game based on possessing uncommon knowledge. Actually, that sort of thing is pretty much outdated now. In 1980, if you knew a lot of obscure facts about punk bands, this would say a lot about what you valued and how you spent your time, because you had to invest some energy to get that info. It probably would even suggest how you looked. And those who would find such things impressive would be impressed. Now, anyone has those facts at their disposal instantly, and knowing them may just mean you put a couple of hours in on Wikipedia. I don’t know powerpop well, but if I just wanted to post obscure bands here, whether I had even listened to them or not, I easily could and everyone knows it. There is no status accruing from this anymore.

And the new direction you propose is: more or less anything with a conventionally-attractive female lead singer. A lot of it is good stuff. I like Bjork, Fleetwood, Siouxsie. But those do not form a single musical direction just because they all have pretty woman singing. You’re going to advocate the revolutionary position that most lead singers of popular music bands should be women? Well, that was the case in the 1920s. It is nothing new and nothing necessarily feminist.

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Martin Bento 02.02.14 at 9:43 am

Maybe I have embedding down now. Here is the Auktyon I tried to embed before.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPNFGRhlJfw

And how about some “Fempop” featuring fat girls singing.

Like Cass
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5IHHXOXOMk

And Deborah

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Martin Bento 02.02.14 at 9:48 am

Ahh, I forgot she spelled it “Debora.”

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Belle Waring 02.02.14 at 11:43 am

Straightwood, Stillwater is an even lamer nym. Dance with the one what brung you to the blog.

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Belle Waring 02.02.14 at 11:44 am

Also, thanks for the fun music while I wasn’t checking particularly, peeps!

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Martin Bento 02.02.14 at 8:55 pm

Michael, thanks, I love Jolly Street. In Love is the best Passengers album IMHO, though I haven’t yet heard Reunited.

OK, I’m going to test the hypothesis that if I have only one embed in a comment, and there is not a blank line in front of it, it gets converted. Since Passengerification seems to by flying, Roy Nathanson’s Subway Moon is an interesting new direction, and I like the approach to musical storytelling. I hope no one is offended that the song is about a middle-aged guy more or less ogling a young woman.

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Martin Bento 02.02.14 at 9:07 pm

Ah, it worked! I suppose I should post a powerpop thing, since that is the thread and all. Like I say, I don’t know most of these obscure bands, but no one has posted Badfinger, who are evidently considered one of the definitive acts of the genre, though I would have thought they were Beatlesesque if anyone was. I do like Straight Up. Here goes:

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Martin Bento 02.02.14 at 9:09 pm

I think Straightwood must have been named after the stick up his arse. I suppose that would keep his center still.

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godoggo 02.02.14 at 9:16 pm

That Hoodoo Gurus song gives me a “this video in unavailable in your country” message, so that gives me a reason for an experiment of my own: what happens if I make an html link using the url as the text (also cause I prefer to watch videos in another browser, especially if there are a zillion embeds on the page)? Here goes:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov_ByEAACok

Also, what happens if I just delete the prefix, as in the text above, but don’t link? An experiment for another time, maybe. I’ll listen to the song after this Geri Allen CD ends…

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Martin Bento 02.02.14 at 9:25 pm

godoggo, it worked. Good.

Now that I got the embed working, here’s Cass and the gang again. Would this qualify as powerpop?

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Tony Lynch 02.03.14 at 1:47 am

Thanks, Michael Harris. I have one further question, then I’ll know as much as I’ll ever know here. Is there a single Rolling Stones song that could sensibly count as powerpop? (Maybe “She’s so Cold?”)

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godoggo 02.03.14 at 2:23 am

OK I have a ble– er, request: I like vocal harmony, like in the Beatles or the early Who. What power pop bands have the best vocal harmony?

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Michael Harris 02.03.14 at 9:37 am

Hi, Tony. Without thinking (or looking) too hard, they were a sort of hard-edged powerpop early on.

I’m thinking “Get Off My Cloud”, “19th Nervous Breakdown”, that kind of thing.

godoggo: I’m disappointed with the “Not in YOUR country!” video! I hope you got to listen to the Gurus.

Who has the best vocals? This is more pure pop than powerpop, but these harmonies…

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Martin Bento 02.03.14 at 3:57 pm

Hey, that was great. It really brings out the harmonies more than the original mix. Went looking for others like it on youtube, but mostly they were not cleanly executed like that – not all of the instruments gone or all of the vocals captured.

I suspect finding the best vocal harmonies in powerpop may be a matter of looking at 60s vocal harmony bands and asking which of their tunes might qualify as powerpop, which is now striking me as a very broad category. Along Comes Mary? Marrakesh Express? Hazy Shade of Winter? I Get Around? Of course, that’s all familiar material to anyone who knows 60s pop/rock at all. For the obscurities, I don’t know.

Although Money by Badfinger is pretty good on that score. Already posted a Badfinger, so I guess I won’t do another, but you can find it.

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