Harald Pettersen

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100 ‘Near You’ – Tacklebox, from On (Rockville Records, 1993) An early 1990s Power Pop (PP from hereon in!) band from Massachusetts. Definitely one for the ‘Power’ corner, this could be an out-take from The Who’s underrated A Quick One album. "You don’t have to tell me that you love me, you don’t have to show me that you care, you don’t have to do nothing, I’m happy to be with you!" In other words, the guy's persuaded the gal to put out at last! Awww, nerd-love at its cutest… 99 ‘Tarnished Silver Screen’ - Three Hour Tour, from Three Hour Tour (Parasol, 1994) Formed from the ashes of almost-PP band the Choo Choo Trains, Illinois’ Three Hour Tour write nice loose, songs. Here, for instance, there’s some cool Ringo-drumming, buzzsaw guitars just the right side of Punk Pop, and a melodic vocal sung with throaty passion. Probably the best PP song about a girl’s descent into porn since J Geils Band’s ‘Centerfold’: "Your mother and your father live in shame ‘cos of you/But at least you didn’t use the name they gave you". They also had the impeccable taste to include a cover of another PP classic, Slade's ‘When Your Lights Are Out’ (see below)… 98 ‘Sanity In The Asylum’ – Matt Keating, from Tell It To Yourself (Alias, 1993) Keating is part of a modern PP-rooted movement that was keen to take the form into more adult areas, both lyrically and musically: fellow travellers including Chris Von Schneidern, Adam Schmitt and husband and wife team Aimee Mann and Michael Penn. The reason such artists are not represented in this list is not because of lack of talent (they’ve all written and recorded some great songs) but because by smoothing out the rough edges of PP they have taken away some of its central characteristics: the genre is by definition all about dumb, teenage, knockabout rock’n’roll. Keating and his ilk have more in common with the Joni Mitchells and Jackson Brownes of this world than with the Raspberries or Rubinoos, even though their music can at times encompass some of PP’s trademark riffs, harmonies and drum sounds. Keating here, however, does lean just far enough into the dumb rock’n’roll headwinds musically to be included (even if his lyrics have a deeper political message). 97 ‘She Don’t Need Me Now’ - The Blow Pops, from American Beauties (Get Hip, 1994) An old favourite of magazine Bucketfull Of Brains before it went all alt.country, the Blow Pops definitely fall on the melodic side of PP. They sound like a cross between the Archies and the Byrds (yes, THAT good !) or perhaps a poppier Shoes, which is perhaps hardly surprising considering the album was produced by Shoes mainman Jeff Murphy. This particular track is in a minor-chord Flamin’ Groovies retro-Beat style, all Rickenbacker guitars and high vocal harmonies: "I think I’ll change my medicine to another prescription ‘cos she don’t need me now" 96 ‘Maid In Heaven’ – Be Bop Deluxe, from Futurama (Harvest, 1975) Be Bop Deluxe? That bizarre prog-rock hybrid were a PP band? Well, yes, for about three years (1975 – 1978) smart-aleck composer Bill Nelson was infected with the Pub Rock/New Wave bug and started acting like a rockier Andy Partridge, writing quirky three-minute guitar-and-keyboard-based pop songs whose choruses, harmonies and middle eights were as far removed from Prog as you could get. Unfortunately, almost having a hit with the mighty ‘Panic In The World’ in 1978 seemed to put him off Pop and he has since wandered off into a world of the ambient and the classical. A great loss. 95 'Sister Havana' – Urge Overkill, from Saturation (Geffen, 1993) Deep political themes & Power Pop rarely match, but Urge’s depiction here of an exotic lovely from Castro’s Cuba is well worth including. Urge Overkill are up there with the Romantics in the sartorial stakes too: only with them it’s matching gold medallions and (at least once at a gig in London) matching gold jumpsuits. Rock-Pop-meets-Power-Pop at its best. 94 ‘Love You Tonight (Saturday’s Gone)’ – Prix, single...
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