PoPTV: BLAST FROM THE PAST – ROCK N SOUL! FT. SLY & THE FAMILY STONE, THE TEMPTATIONS, THE SUPREMES, EARTH WIND & FIRE AND PARLIAMENT + FUNKADELIC!!!

jimi-hendrix

It’s impossible to strip rhythm ‘n’ blues and soul music away from rock ‘n’ roll as the latter would not even exist without the former.  In the late 60s, the likes of Jimi Hendrix (above) and Arthur Lee (Love) would combine the flowering of psychedelic rock with R&B (funk ‘n’ soul) to create a sound that emphasises the best of both worlds.

Continue reading “PoPTV: BLAST FROM THE PAST – ROCK N SOUL! FT. SLY & THE FAMILY STONE, THE TEMPTATIONS, THE SUPREMES, EARTH WIND & FIRE AND PARLIAMENT + FUNKADELIC!!!”

BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE THRILLS – SO MUCH FOR THE CITY (2003)

I have been dissing the Noughties (ie 2001 to 2010) as being devoid of great music. But of course, that’s not entirely true. As some of you might know, Power of Pop has been around since 1998 and so I am going to be posting reviews of great albums from the Noughties just to remind everyone (and myself) that there was still great music to be had, if you knew where to look.

Continue reading “BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE THRILLS – SO MUCH FOR THE CITY (2003)”

BLAST FROM THE PAST: ANDY PARTRIDGE – FUZZY WARBLES VOL.1 & 2 [REVIEW]

A review from 2002.

ANDY PARTRIDGE Fuzzy Warbles Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 (APE)

As any card-carrying XTC fanatic will inform you, the Swindon-based band spent the better part of the 90s on strike from their record label Virgin, finally earning their freedom from a draconian contract sometime in 1998. The band then set up their own label – Idea – and proceeded to release two albums (Apple Venus & Wasp Star) in consecutive years!

So it certainly behooves the band to flood the market with as many XTC-related products as possible just to make up for lost time. So whilst ecstatic fans have been lapping up the demo and instrumental versions of the two latest albums and Virgin was kind enough to issue the Coat of Many Cupboards box set, the duo decided to begin releasing the voluminous demos (subject of legend and lore and much bootlegging) Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding amassed during that seven-year industrial action.

Alas, Moulding changed his mind and so we have volumes one and two of Fuzzy Warbles as Partridge begins an ambitious program to give his fans what they have been waiting for a long time.

And is it all worth the wait and the expense? Why most certainly! Here’s why…

From Volume One, Partridge includes the delightful “Dame Fortune” (inextricably left off Apple Venus One), the bouncy “Don’t Let Us Bug You” (written for Disney’s animated James and the Giant Peach – now that would have been something!), a fiery demo of “That Wave” (off Nonsuch) that surpasses the recorded version for sheer intensity, the folky “Everything” (excluded from Oranges and Lemons), the whimsical “Goosey Goosey” (also for Nonsuch), the chirpy “Summer Hot As This” (circa 1984 – with erstwhile member Dave Gregory on guitar, a bonus!) and the offbeat “Wonder Annual” (another that failed to make the grade for Nonsuch).

Slide in Volume Two and one gets the unusually stripped down and straightforward “I Don’t Want To Be Here” (recorded for a AIDS Charity disc), the domestic tirade “Young Marrieds” – ‘Love and marriage go hand in hand like horse and horse shit’ (meant for Wasp Star), the political “Obscene Procession” – a precursor of “President Kill” perhaps? (for Skylarking apparently), the jaunty “Ra Ra Rehearsal” & “Ra Ra For Red Rocking Horse” (not quite up to the rest of Psonic Psunspot, I wager), the McCartney-esque “Everything’ll Be Alright” (also for Giant Peach), the frenetic “Chain of Command” (a blast from the past, 1979 in fact!), a gorgeously cod-psychedelic version of Nonsuch’s “Then She Appeared,” the lovely enigmatic “It’s Snowing Angels” (circa 1990) and the vivid “Ship Trapped In the Ice,” written to reflect XTC’s Virgin dilemma.

And there you have it, not meant for the XTC newbie but once you picked up every single fantastic work released by this awesome band, then Fuzzy Warbles tend to become fairly indispensable items to have and to hold. For even if the discs did not contain precious XTC artifacts, the professional sound and overall amazing quality of the tracks here make Fuzzy Warbles important albums for any serious-minded music fan to explore and absorb. A+ (Vol. 1) & A (Vol. 2)

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BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE POP UNDERGROUND

Back in the good ol’ days, Power of Pop focused mainly on the Pop Underground – melodic pop-rock inspired by the 60s/70s. Much of the content is no longer available and so this special feature will correct that oversight. Get ready to be educated, hipster kids!

THE FORMAT – Dog Problems (Vanity, 2006)

There is a thin line between emo punk and powerpop.

What am I talking about?

Continue reading “BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE POP UNDERGROUND”

BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE POP UNDERGROUND

Back in the good ol’ days, Power of Pop focused mainly on the Pop Underground – melodic pop-rock inspired by the 60s/70s. Much of the content is no longer available and so this special feature will correct that oversight. Get ready to be educated, hipster kids!

BMX BANDITS Down At the Hop (Shoeshine, 2003)

With seven years between Down At the Hop and preceding release – 1996’s Kim Fowley-produced “Theme Park” – it’s comforting to know that the Bandits are still able to deliver sun-kissed Beach Boys-obsessed pop like they’ve never been away.

Continue reading “BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE POP UNDERGROUND”

BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE POP UNDERGROUND

Back in the good ol’ days, Power of Pop focused mainly on the Pop Underground – melodic pop-rock inspired by the 60s/70s. Much of the content is no longer available and so this special feature will correct that oversight. Get ready to be educated, hipster kids!

SPLITSVILLE Incorporated (Houston Party, 2003)

Discounting the Beatles-Beach Boys pastiche cum tribute that was The Complete Pet Soul, Incorporated is actually Splitsville’s first album of all-new material in close to five years (since 1998’s Repeater in fact).

Continue reading “BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE POP UNDERGROUND”

BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE POP UNDERGROUND

Back in the good ol’ days, Power of Pop focused mainly on the Pop Underground – melodic pop-rock inspired by the 60s/70s. Much of the content is no longer available and so this special feature will correct that oversight. Get ready to be educated, hipster kids!

ALVA STAR – Down Escalator (Princess, 2006)

John Hermanson is perhaps best known as one half of Storyhill, a folk duo that has achieved minor commercial success – the press release boldly proclaims that Storyhill has sold more than 35,000 CDs. Personally, I am not sure if such a statement is a pro or con in respect of promoting Alva Star. Whatever.

Continue reading “BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE POP UNDERGROUND”

BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE POP UNDERGROUND

Back in the good ol’ days, Power of Pop focused mainly on the Pop Underground – melodic pop-rock inspired by the 60s/70s. Much of the content is no longer available and so this special feature will correct that oversight. Get ready to be educated, hipster kids!

BOBBY SUTLIFF – Bitter Fruit (Not Lame, 2000)

After going MIA for almost a decade, Bobby Sutliff returns with a spiffy new album of prime jangle pop. Sutliff did the bulk of his music-making in the 1980s releasing several albums under his own name (viz Another Jangly Mess, Only Ghosts Remain) and with partner Tim Lee as the Windbreakers (viz Terminal, At Home With Bobby & Tim and Electric Landlady).

Continue reading “BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE POP UNDERGROUND”

BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE POP UNDERGROUND

Back in the good ol’ days, Power of Pop focused mainly on the Pop Underground – melodic pop-rock inspired by the 60s/70s. Much of the content is no longer available and so this special feature will correct that oversight. Get ready to be educated, hipster kids!

WISELY – Parador (Not Lame, 2006)

Wisely returns with a rustic snapshot of arch powerpop that (largely) eschews orchestration for a more earthy flavour. Gone is the lush soft pop Wisely has long been associated with and in its place a pleasing sinewy melodic folk-rock that grabs hold of your heart from track one and never lets go.

Continue reading “BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE POP UNDERGROUND”

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Not quite the norm as it is nowadays, it was pretty unique to come across an North American singer-songwriter of Asian descent back in 2002 and so Wendy Ip and her superb Fan Favourites LP was a pleasant and rewarding exercise.

WENDY IP Fan Favorites So Far (Self-released) www.wendyip.com

“She wants to be Peter Pan/But she will always be just Wendy/She can only fly in the back of her mind/In her heart she will find the time”

Ip is an aspiring young singer-songwriter of Asian descent. Born in Manitoba, Canada and currently residing in New York. All interesting factoids, no doubt, but most crucially, in this age of Britney Spears wannabes – here’s a lady who models her musical ambitions on emulating Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Todd Rundgren & Ray Davies. Meaning: Ip specializes in pop music that is intelligent, mature, melodic and yes, fun. Add to the list the intricate stylings of Laura Nyro, Carole King, Rickie Lee Jones, Sam Philips & Joni Mitchell and the result is indeed pleasing.

This is most evident on material like the erudite “At the Seams,” the autobiographical “Just Wendy,” the wistful “Our Little Room” and the affecting “Can’t Get Mad” where Ip utilizes the piano to outstanding effect. Ip’s debt to the British Invasion becomes apparent in the powerpop inflections of the jumping “So This Is My Life” and the jaunty “Elaine” where tried-and-tested popcraft collides with Ip’s feisty exuberance.

Based on the evidence presented on Fan Favorites So Far, Wendy Ip has every chance of living up to the high standards she has set for herself in the years to come. (A)

BLAST FROM THE PAST

One of my all-time favourite 90s bands must be the Welsh outfit Super Furry Animals. Every album was an aural delight with every song a surprising pleasure. I say surprising cos you never knew what the Furries would do on any given track! Here’s a review from 2001 yet again. Bloody essential.


SUPER FURRY ANIMALS Rings Around the World (Sony) www.superfurry.com

What is there to say anymore about the genius of these Welsh art-poppers? Ever since their fascinating debut Fuzzy Logic blazed its path through the fag ends of the Britpop movement (circa 1996), this prolific genre-bending collective has been releasing consistent and challenging pop music with almost military discipline and wild flair, as previous albums (viz. Radiator, Guerilla and Mwng) bear out.

This time round, the band seems to have cottoned to the heady joys of the Electric Light Orchestra! Doubt me? Listen carefully to the jubilant title track and convince me otherwise. With trademark ‘ringing’ samples suggesting modern sounds, the boogie guitar rhythm, helium-addled backing vocals and that orchestral pop sound evoke the glory days of Jeff Lynne and co when perms and mullets ruled the airwaves! The following “It’s Not the End of the World” brings the equation further by adding ELO founder Roy Wood’s Wizzard to the mix in a lovely celebration of Spectorian teen symphonies.

You want more? How about a direct melodic quote off Lennon’s “Oh My Love” on the opening “Alternate Route to Vulcan Street” or more Jeff Lynne formula on the Travelling Wilburys-evoking “Receptacle for the Respectable” with a dollop of Bacharach’s horns thrown in for good measure?

As you can gather from those song titles, the SFA’s sense for the ridiculous has not abated – how else do you explain the fact that the lead single is called “Juxtaposed With U”? A jaunty bossa nova nugget with tongue firmly embedded in cheek as vocoder vocals and string arrangements suggesting the Charlie’s Angels theme rather than alt. rock – with a message to boot!

Always surprising, always exciting – the SFA have never failed to amaze for the last five years and one gets the distinct feeling that the best is still to come! (A)

Buy Rings Around the World at Amazon

BLAST FROM THE PAST

Another review from 2001, relating to an American band with a Singaporean front person. I believe the cousin in question is Colin Goh (of Singapore Dreaming, Talking Cock fame). Does anyone out there know what happened to Jumprope and Cindy Goh?

JUMPROPE Suitcase and Umbrella (Planting Seeds)

Jumprope is a unique quartet parlaying jazz and pure powerpop influences into pleasing confections. More than that, on a personal note, browsing through the band’s website, I realized that lead singer Cindy Goh hails from Singapore and what’s more, has a cousin who studied at the same school and is an acquaintance of mine! Small world, eh?

That said, I hope that little piece of trivia doesn’t taint the positive impression I have of this interesting band. Suitcase and Umbrella is Jumprope’s second album and fans of The Cardigans, the Go-Betweens, Beat Happening, Heavenly and Marine Research will thoroughly enjoy this satisfying disc. Goh shares songwriting chores with Ad Boc and there is much to savour here, amongst them, the charming Smiths-like “The Glamour Snare,” the Broadway-themed “Disappear,” the jaunty “Grandpa’s Lament” and the bossa nova-inflected “Holiday in Brazil.”

Probably the most refreshing ‘twee’ pop you likely to hear in 2001. Check it out. (B)

BLAST FROM THE PAST

I have been dissing the Noughties (ie 2001 to 2010) as being devoid of great music. But of course, that’s not entirely true. As some of you might know, Power of Pop has been around since 1998 and so I am going to be posting reviews of great albums from the Noughties just to remind everyone (and myself) that there was still great music to be had, if you knew where to look.

******

STARFLYER 59 Leave Here a Stranger (Tooth & Nail)

Jason Martin, who essentially IS Starflyer 59, is one of indie-pop’s best-kept secrets. This singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist has, with this latest album, released 10 albums under the Starflyer 59 moniker and it may just about his best work yet.

If one word comes closest to describing Starflyer 59’s sound, it would probably be “pop-gazing.” Meaning that Martin has managed a successful hybrid of the British “shoe-gazer” movement of the late-80s and early-90s viz. My Bloody Valentine, The House of Love, Ride, Chapterhouse and the nascent Blur AND the classic (fragile) powerpop of the Byrds, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub & the Posies.

Leave Here a Stranger, recorded in MONO, jumps straight out of the blocks with the music-themed trilogy of “All My Friends Who Play Guitar,” “Can You Play Drums” and “When I Learn to Sing.” Using the band scenario as an analogy for life, Martin narrates in hushed Colin Blunstone tones the experience of fame-seeking (‘so this is what we did for a name, we took a taste of life in our country’) and wishful thinking (‘when I learn to read, I’ll change my ways on everything.’)

Charged with acoustic reveries, Americana inflections and infinitely chiming guitars, Martin and band a times recalls the chamber pop of the Pernice Brothers, especially on the melancholy textures of “Give Up the War,” “Things Like This Help Me” and “This I Don’t Need.”

A fascinating effort that gets better with each play from a master craftsman who deserves more recognition that he currently receives. (A)

******

Buy Leave Here a Stranger from Amazon