Power pop has figured prominently at Pauseandplay.com since it debuted in the mid-1990s.
Here’s proof: quotable moments from some of the genre’s best.
Vicki Peterson of The Bangles, when asked what was the first record she ever bought – “You won’t believe this. It was the ‘We Can Fly’ album by the Cowsills. I bought it with my allowance money. This is true; this is archived. I’ve answered this question before I was engaged to the drummer (John Cowsill).”
When Kinks guitarist Dave Davies was 15, he was tinkering with his 10-watt amplifier at his parents’ home in Muswell Hill, England – “I started to experiment with it. I was an inquisitive kid. I always wanted to know how things work, not knowing whether you’re supposed to do it or not do it. I got so fed up with this little amplifier, that I just fed it into a bigger amplifier, not knowing whether it would work.”
When he turned it on, a shock passed through his body, hurling him across his bedroom. “My mum came into the room, because all the lights had fused in the house, and she found me in a little bundle on the floor,” he said, chuckling. “Some of the best moments come out by accident, and mine was a near-death experience.”
After plugging, unplugging and switching chords, he slashed the amplifier’s speaker cone with a razor blade. He finally got what he wanted: a crackling, distorted guitar sound. A year later, Davies’ method of madness paid off, constructing the notorious, always-imitated-but-never-duplicated guitar riffs on the Kinks’ first worldwide hit, “You Really Got Me.”
Tommy Heath, aka Tommy Tutone, on the lasting popularity of “867-5309 / Jenny” – “A lot of people can tell me where they were when they heard the song, what they were doing. It nails a time and place for people.”
Matthew Sweet, trying to deflect praise from his fans and their frustrations over his lack of commercial success – “I try; I want to be good. The people I idolized are people like Brian Wilson, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Sometimes I feel like so many people say that, god, maybe I should’ve had more radio exposure or something. It does seem strange, and sometimes I wish that I had had label situations where they had really, really gone to bat for something. It never seemed to last very long. Although I can’t really trash anyone, especially the early years of Zoo; everybody was like a family. They worked really hard for me.”
Andy Partridge, thanking loyal XTC fans for keeping the faith. He finds their devotion equally reassuring and scary – “I’m not on the Internet. A few times, people have sent me print-outs of stuff they’re talking about. Not only is most of it incredibly wrong, it’s the disinformation highway. Rumor is rife on there; it’s Chinese whispers. Not only is it wrong, it’s so congratulatory and effusive; it’s so ludicrous, I don’t believe it. They say, ‘They’re better than the Beatles’ and ‘They picked up where the Beatles left off,’ blah-blah. So, wait a minute, we’ve got some part of it that’s just plain lies, and the effusiveness can’t be true because it feels wrong to my ears. And the other part of it is criticism, which you don’t want to believe because it’s so hurtful.”
The late Jim Ellison of Material Issue – “To me, good pop is solid melody with good vocalization, not too watered down to the point where it’s sappy. Just because you play pop doesn’t mean you have to play acoustic guitars and piano. I think you can still punch a lot of rock ‘n’ roll into pop … ‘Ballroom Blitz’ is a great example. I mean, it’s a pretty heavy song but still really, really melodic.”
Todd Rundgren – “I’ve always wanted to be able to experiment with other styles, and plus my influences weren’t limited to R&B. My parents never listened to pop music. They liked show music and classical music, so there’s a lot of that in my so-called grab bag.”
Bassist John Power, on being disappointed in The La’s self-titled debut album despite global acclaim – “It’s really good that people like the music, but they don’t know the problems we’ve had with this album. We didn’t even want it coming out, because it doesn’t sound like us. We recorded it, but Steve Lillywhite mixed it up, mixed it himself. The record company released it without us even on the cover sleeve and everything. We had nothing to do with it, and I’m being polite about it.”
Drummer Bun E. Carlos, on Cheap Trick being caught off-guard with their success in Japan and the subsequent recording of “Cheap Trick At Budokan” – “At the end of two weeks, it was nice to go home and get away from it, because we couldn’t leave our rooms. We couldn’t look out the windows because the fans might back up into the street and get hit by a car. We couldn’t go anywhere, and we really didn’t know about Japan. We didn’t know about Japanese food or going to Roppongi (the nightclub district) or any of that stuff, so we sat in our rooms and ate bad room-service burgers.”
Now comes our final selections for “365 Days of Power Pop.” As you’ll see, there are 400 in total … the “bonus tracks” are there to make up for some songs that aren’t on Spotify (like the Beatles and Badfinger).
(Follow along with our Spotify playlist.)
314 January, Pilot
350 She, The Monkees
More updates: Fall Out Boy, Depeche Mode, Echosmith, Yann Tiersen, The Searchers, etc
More updates: Avalon, Tami Neilson, Beach Slang, BRKN Love, Mary J. Blige, Bing Crosby, Change, etc