Windsong Records (BXL 1–3403)
Produced by Jeff Glixman
Sole album by this mystery group, power pop on John Denver’s Windsong label with Arnie Badd, Brad Billion, Dane Bramage, and Pinky Chablis. While they don’t sound like Cheap Trick, it’s sort of the same idea, power pop with focus on pounding drums and electric guitar (and of course vocals, harmony and melody), lots of content about love but also the violent crime of “Trouble Maker.” This is power pop but not the soft-rock or candy-coated bubblegummy brand, somewhere between the Raspberries and Thin Lizzy, the Babys and Van Halen.
Both sides end with hard-rock content, the instrumental “Twin Engines” closing the first side, the 5+ minute “Midnight Imagination,” ending the proceedings. This closer brings the Beach Boys influence into power ballad mode, bridging 60s’ pop and 70s’ excess to the power ballads of the 80s, the straight-forward aspects of 70s glam and the excesses of the glam of the 80s. Mostly it’s the Beach Boys channeled through 70s hard rock.
While this is varied set, it’s fairly entertaining through both sides and even the filler falls into the background without becoming annoying. This group never comes close to the best of the power poppers, but they’re also obviously a few notches above the bland new wavers from this era. It’s pure juvenile fun, all songs written and arranged by Blind Date.
LINK TO SELLERS:
produced by Vini Poncia
This one’s only for fans with a huge penchant for 80s pop-rock fronted by female vocalists, but if that’s your bag, this set is worth a listen, features an LA new-wave sound with the band’s Tennessee roots showing–especially in Susanne’s vocals. This Memphis outfit was fronted by the Taylor siblings, Susanne Jerome the cutie on vocals (and made into a new wave southern belle sexpot on the “She Wants You” video.)
While she has her right hand firmly planted in the pocket of her cute 80s skirt on the album sleeve, she appears to be flipping the bird. That about says it all, LA trying to make her into a 80s pop tart, but this Memphis girl showing her roots with that twang and attitude in her voice, that grin on her face and that middle finger firmly planted in her pocket.
Most of the songs are written by the Taylor siblings, the set produced by Vini Poncia (Ringo’s songwriting partner through most of the 70s). Apparently the rest of the band is made up of siblings, Rob and Russ Caudill providing the rhythm section, and keyboardist Tom Ward showing up on song credits with a D. Ward. The first side stays upbeat and fairly cute and enjoyable with an 80s power-pop sound, and then after the opener “Wishy Washy,” Side Two–for better or worse depending on the listener–sticks with the ballads and sounds like the party’s over. And likely the party was over because this is apparently the only album by this outfit.
— winch (author of
links to sellers:
Ride Your Heart
Dead Oceans Records (DOC082)
Produced by Rob Barbato
Debut long player from this LA outfit, the band described at this point as sisters Jennifer and Jessica Calvin, all songs and most of the playing credited to the pair.
The sound clearly has a California feel, mixing many styles from the past: the garage, surf, and dreamy girl group of the sixties, the power pop and lots of Blondie of the 70s, the sonic of punk and the 90s mixed with a bit of the girl-group revival and pop rock of the 80s, even a bit of exotica (and maybe the hillbilly) of the 50s–for example Jessica adding lap steel to the Bo Diddley beat on “Guy Like You.”
For fans of sonic pop music, this debut set is worth a listen.
— winch (author of
Produced by Todd Rundgren
(two cuts produced by George Harrison)
Released December 1971 (US & UK) reached #31 in US.
Badfinger’s third album, containing two more top 10 hits, “Day After Day” and “Baby Blue,” both melancholy pop gems that suggested this band was perhaps a bit more than just a Beatles copycat. The hits helped the band get plenty of airplay and leave behind a legacy that lasted long after they were gone.
While the rest of the album resonates with the mood of the hits, it also strives to lift out of the gloom without ever really shaking that melancholy that permeates the sound. The setis fairly consistent, but many cuts sound a bit lacking alongside the stronger ones. With some clearly coming out of the fab four, this should interest fans of the Beatles. For fans of this group, this is essential listening.
This was the last outing that sold well in the States. (For some reason, they never caught on at home.) All of the songs are written by band members, both of the hits penned by Pete Ham. While they’d continue releasing albums, few took interest. Ham would hang himself in 1975.
Another Tulsa power-pop band that moved to Hollywood, and of course this outfit started with Bomp! Records. For this debut album, they moved to Portrait Records. Pure power-pop, worthwhile listen for fans of this style.
The band included Steve Allen, Ron Flynt, Mike Gallo, and Chris Silagyi. (Fellow Tulsa power-popper Phil Seymour guests on background vocals for one cut.) Produced by Earle Mankey.
***** Good Shit
Pretty great bootleg from 1979 Dallas show, radio broadcast, top-notch sound capturing the band just before things would go wrong.
Ignoring Plastic Letters, the set offers two cuts from each of the other albums from the 70s, concluding with a rocking ’60s medley that crashes into a version of Iggy Pop’s “Funtime.”
The album ends with demo cuts from 1975, including a version of the Shangra-La’s 1965 “Out in the Streets” which is pure gold.
Shake and Push
Borrowed Records 3302
good shit *****
Classic set from Springfield, Missouri, very much in the NRBQ style (which of course goes back to the beginning of time, or at least back to the early 1950s). These folks get a bit more silly than NRBQ, opening the set with three originals, starting with “Gettin’ in Shape” (“Here comes Betty / She’s so sweaty / I wish we were goin’ steady”). To make sure this ain’t some stale neo-rockabilly museum music, they go into the Village People at the end of the song, enough to send some roots-rock purists to their graves where they belong. After that, the band launches into a song about food (the subject of some of the best songs ever recorded), this one about Red’s, the cafe that graces the sleeve. (“The only thing that’s French on the menu is fried.”) After that flavorful cliché, they go into some obscure covers, a song about the beautiful thing about “Ugly & Slouchy” women, and another about “Growin’ a Beard,” concluding with the instrumental “Bumble Boogie.”
The fun continues on side two, starting with Roy Montrell’s 1956 “That Mellow Saxophone,” (this version referring to “watching Columbo” as well as Davie Crockett) and continuing with the obscure covers till the end. Lots of folks did this sort of thing but few did it as good. Most groups usually picked hit songs that should have been left alone, tried too hard to sound retro and pretended to be from the South. In contrast, these folks weren’t pretending. They poke fun at their hometown, the “recording capital of Greene County,” but if you’ve been to this area, you know it’s the South. And in the South, you had standards. If you’re going to make a record, you better have a tight band and some good songs. This set fits that bill.
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)