Power Pop is a term you hear fairly often when talking about oldies that sort of split the atom between Bubblegum (think The Ohio Express or The 1910 Fruitgum Company), Pop (think Three Dog Night, The Grassroots or The Lovin‘ Spoonful) and Rock (think The Doors or Cream). I was reading that Pete Townshend of The Who is generally credited with coining the phrase in 1967 when asked what type of music his band played. Referring to “I Can’t Explain”, “Happy Jack” and “Pictures of Lily” he replied “Power Pop.” I never knew this tidbit of information. I can’t describe Power Pop when I try to explain it, but I know it when I hear it. It’s always been a favorite genre of mine. It lends itself to one hit wonder bands, or at least to bands that don’t have a lot of catalogue exposure. One of my all time favorite Power Pop songs is “Shake Some Action” by The Flamin’ Groovies. That song rocks. How about “No Matter What” or “Baby Blue” by Badfinger? Yes please. Little Girl by Syndicate of Sound? Yep. What about “Starry Eyes” by The Records? Love it. I loved Pop Rock when I was a kid. Time of The Season by The Zombies. Spirit in The Sky by Norman Greenbaum. In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry. Go All The Way by The Raspberries. Surrender by Cheap Trick. Anything by Todd Rundgren. September Gurls by Big Star. Bus Stop by The Hollies. I’m On Fire by Dwight Twilley. She’s So Selfish by The Knack. Teenage Kicks by The Undertones. Switchboard Susan by Nick Lowe. Anything by Joe Jackson. Driver’s Seat by Sniff ‘n The Tears. Melt With You by Modern English. The Buzzcocks. The Monkees. The Beach Boys. The Kinks. Electric Light Orchestra. The Easybeats. Love. Heck, you could even call Blue Oyster Cult Power Pop if pressed. The list is blissfully endless…

Later on we had The Replacements, XTC, Blondie, The Bangles, The La’s, Fountains of Wayne, The Dandy Warhols, The New Radicals, Matthew Sweet, The Lemonheads, Teenage Fanclub, The Romantics, The Plimsouls, Marshall Crenshaw, R.E.M., Squeeze, The Jam, The New Pornographers, Jimmy Eat World, Weezer, The dB’s, The Smithereens, The Pursuit of Happiness, Utopia, Nada Surf, The Hoo Doo Gurus, Rhett Miller and others carrying the flag. The actual time frame of the golden age of Power Pop is up for debate. By most accounts the sweet spot was 1975 or so until maybe 1983, but we all know that Power Pop was invented by The Beatles. The Kinks, The Who, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, The Troggs, The Rolling Stones, Sly & The Family Stone and scores of bands had also paved the way prior to 1975, if indeed that is the imaginary line in the sand. The thing about it is, I think you have to have had roots in the AM Gold Pop era to appreciate this music to the level that I do. It was right on the fault line when AOR FM radio started to take off. The music needed to be longer than 2 minutes and 15 seconds and it had to have something to say. The late 60′s and early 70′s had a backdrop of heavier music making it’s own history in Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Aerosmith, but there was a bridge to this music that was a hybrid of pop and rock. It took nearly a decade to come and go, but fortunately there is still a market for this product even if it is dormant at times. It’s kind of cyclical I think. Some might call it antiquated, but I like it.

I don’t know what it is that attracts me to this genre so much, but it’s like ear candy for me. It’s easy to understand the lyrics and sing to and it just rips the nostalgia from my can’t remember what I had for breakfast brain. I’m posting two Power Pop tracks today. The first is without a doubt one of my favorite local Boston band tracks by a band called Private Lightning. This band never really made it out of New England, but I don’t care. “Physical Speed” is a masterpiece from my point of view. I was so happy to read on another blog that they were going to re-release their 1980 self titled CD this month I ordered it before it was available. They had a second song called “Song of The Kite” that I also loved, but these tracks were very hard to find for decades if you didn’t own their original album. I never did own it, but I did record the single on a cassette tape for safe keeping and held onto it tightly until now. Whenever I hear it I am instantly taken back to hazy lazy summer days on Nahant Beach back in 1980 with a kite tied to my beach chair and the cheapest beer we could find. Most of the time we had two or three bikini clad waitresses with us from work with the boom box blasting. I’m sure there was no connection to the ideology behind “Girl of My Dreams” and my love for the second song below, but it sure was nice to get lost in the day dream with that kind of company just the same. Local New Englanders already know Nahant is not exactly a five star beach, but it was close to Boston and most of the time we needed to be at work by 4:30 PM so Nahant it was. I just loved Physical Speed. Private Lightning was a rousing success if for no other reason than this contribution to the world of music. Congrats guys (and girls) wherever you are today. You rocked my world nearly 30 years ago and still do to this day. That has gotta be such a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. I’d be so proud if somebody remembered my signature tune for a decade, let alone three…that was such a long time ago…still, I remember it like it was yesterday…

The other song I’m posting is Bram Tchaikovsky’s “Girl of My Dreams.” Bram released Strange Man, Changed Man in 1979. It had a mediocre cover of The Monkee’s I’m a Believer (written by the legendary Neil Diamond), but nothing else that riled up the radio community. Luckily they latched onto this track and played it like there was no tomorrow. Everything about this track screams Power Pop and I could never ever get enough of it. It’s a brilliant track. I hope you like it too. I don’t know what it says about me that Bram’s “girl” Judy was a blow up doll, but the song is so beautiful I can overlook that minor detail. At least I’m not one of those clowns who brings blow up dolls to sporting events to be passed around huh? Don’t you judge me…

Private Lightning – Physical Speed.mp3

Private Lightning – Physical Speed.mp3 YSI

Bram Tchaikofsky – Girl of My Dreams.mp3