Elvis Costello – The Complete Armed Forces is a retrospective collection curated by Elvis Costello himself centred on Costello’s 1979 album with The Attractions, Armed Forces. If nothing else, Armed Forces is a personal landmark as the LP was the first Elvis Costello LP I picked up all those years ago.(more…)
Every kind of music under the sun
The Style Council. A stylish experiment sandwiched in the middle of The Jam and Paul Weller. Or a huge misstep in the career of a music icon. There as many opinions about this as there are Jam and Weller fans. Somehow, The Style Council has never been taken as seriously as Weller’s other two incarnations.(more…)
Since I rebooted Power of Pop in late July, I have been moved to focus on movie and TV reviews with hardly any music reviews featured. This change in direction might be somewhat bewildering to anyone who has followed Power of Pop in the decades that it has been around.(more…)
Urgh A Music War is a 1981 British film featuring performances by punk rock, new wave, and post-punk acts, filmed in 1980. For me personally, the movie holds a special place in my heart as it provided me with a gateway to the new music that was sweeping over the UK and the USA, in the wake of punk.
Back in the early 70s, the Singapore government clamped down on the arts, labelling it “yellow culture” and therefore undesirable. Live rock music was banned in 1974 and the Ministry of Culture practiced an active censorship of pop culture. When punk emerged in the mid-70s, the authorities blocked releases by punk bands in Singapore. Suffice to say there was no rock music on TV either.
Thus, when I saw in the newspapers that Urgh A Music War was playing at the Rex Cinema, a relatively small theatre, I did not hesitate. The main attraction to me back then were The Police. Sting and company were one of the first newly styled rock bands that I had latched on too, together with the likes of The Jam and The Knack in 1979/80.
The movie was about two hours long and featured bands that I mostly had no clue about and styles of music that I was unfamiliar with. The Police opened the movie with “Driven to Tears” and it was a treat to finally watch them live, even if it was only on a movie screen.
The bands that followed made little impression until Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. That performance of “Enola Gay” blew my mind. I had not yet heard of synth-pop yet and it was a mind-ending experience.
This first exposure to electronic pop was cemented by the highlight of the movie – Gary Numan’s performance of “Down in the Park” with him seated in a moving chair! Both OMD and Numan certainly opened my mind (and ears) to brand new musical possibilities.
Strangely enough, I never quite felt any affinity with the out and out punk bands in the movie – they seemed somewhat insubstantial to me. But what did get my attention were the guitar bands that demonstrated more sophistication like Echo and the Bunnymen and XTC.
Naturally, considering my obsession with The Police, I was also drawn to the reggae outfits like Steel Pulse and UB40. It would be a rich vein that I would definitely tap in the coming years.
I realise now almost 4 decades later that there were probably numerous bands that were cut out of the Singapore release – I am sure I would have remember watching Dead Kennedys and Devo. I wonder how my musical habits might have changed if both were never excised. Would I have leant more towards the American punk scene than the British in the 80s? Who knows??
In the final analysis, I owe much to Urgh A Music War – the movie changed my life! 1982 would be a big year for music discovery.
… still there’s more …
In my recent opinion piece on music appreciation, I opined that music has become less time sensitive in the new media age. So I am starting a new music feature to highlight recommended new (mainly) pop-rock albums on a post-monthly basis. So here it is – Recommended Albums (September 2020). Check them out!(more…)
Global pandemic aside, the last 20 years have been horrendous for music and the music industry. The music culture that I have grown with from the 60s to the 90s has been utterly devastated for reasons I have enumerated in two articles viz. music is dead and the music industry is dead. However, despite all this, I can still defiantly proclaim : LONG LIVE ROCK!(more…)
Album covers are relics from an ancient age. When a 12.375 inch (31.43 cm) square cardboard sleeve provided the canvas for designers to come up with an eye-catching piece of artwork to persuade the viewer to part with his or her hard earned money. We want to celebrate these art designers by spotlighting the best rock album covers of all time! (In alphabetical order!!)(more…)
Here we go. No sooner than I declare that I will be writing less about music here at the Power of Pop, then the Stephen Clair Small Hours album drops into my lap! Figures. And after a couple of listens, I just have to say something about his punk n’ roll spirit no matter how much it hurts!(more…)
Regular visitors to the Power of Pop would have noticed a shift in content focus, from music to film and TV. Bottom line, I really believe that the music industry is dead and it gets really depressing to write about music nowadays. So I try not to.(more…)
John Lennon would have been 80 today. Of course, it’s almost 40 years since Lennon’s murder in 1980. I have always felt that Lennon’s solo output was under-appreciated. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that he actually went on hiatus for five years to be a house-husband! But that’s Lennon – ever the iconoclast. Let’s celebrate the 80th anniversary of his birth with a list of the best John Lennon songs of all time. (In alphabetical order)(more…)
“We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far” is a lyric from “Video Killed the Radio Star” and perfectly encapsulates my opinion that music is dead. But music is everywhere you protest, how can music be dead? Let me explain.(more…)
Ryan Hamilton & the Harlequin Ghosts is a transatlantic collaboration, with frontman Ryan Hamilton hailing from just outside of Fort Worth, TX, while his backing band The Harlequin Ghosts are based in the U.K. The follow up to 2019’s This Is The Sound (which won an Independent Music Award for Best Indie Album’), Nowhere To Go But Everywhere was written by Ryan during a long road trip across the USA with his dog Peaches, while coming to terms with his recent divorce.(more…)
The Fast Colors began as an idea discussed between Chris Toh and myself over a meal – forming a classic rock tribute band. We roped Patrick Chng into the band as well and before you know it we were playing gigs, together with Chee Wah Yong and Tan Boon Gee on bass and drums respectively.(more…)
Since I reviewed his 2017 album, Something/Nothing, English singer-songwriter Nick Frater has been keeping up a steady yearly release schedule with Goodbye Kayfabe (2018), Full Fathom Freight-Train (2019) and his latest Fast & Loose this year. The self-described ‘60s/70s inspired power-pop’ specialist is determinedly prolific, by all accounts.(more…)
It’s hard to imagine classic rock – the music genre that defined the seventies and birthed punk and metal – even existing without the significant contributions of the Rolling Stones. Thus, it’s appropriate to look at the best Rolling Stones songs of all time!(more…)
I’ll be honest. This new album from The Neighbourhood shook me to the core. Now, this is a proper pop album. Not the shitty 2nd-rate lazy hip-pop that is popular nowadays but an old-school pop album. But with 2020 pop sensibilities. How did this happen?(more…)
If, like me, you believe that rock ‘n’ roll as defined in the 1970s by the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Queen, Elvis Costello et al is at the apex of popular music making, then anything by Brad Brooks is essential.(more…)
An introduction to the Bee Gees, one of the best bands of all time, in my humble opinion. But seriously, ten songs is, of course, merely the tip of a massive iceberg. Hopefully, this list of the best Bee Gees songs of all time will encourage you to dive a bit deeper into the oceans of Bee Gees genius. (In alphabetical order)(more…)
Faithful readers will be aware that I simply love The Jam viz. Paul Weller (vocals, guitar), Bruce Foxton (bass, vocals) and Rick Buckler (drums). The trio had a relatively short recording/performing career – around 5 years – but in that time, The Jam established themselves as one of the top bands in the UK. So what were the Best Jam songs of all time?(more…)
My actual first encounter with music appreciation is probably lost to me in the hidden recesses of memory. However, I do recall discovering pop music via The Chipmunks! It was a 1964 LP called The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits, which my late father had bought for me. I was about 3 or 4 years old maybe?(more…)
The Best Beach Boys Songs of All Time : I have shared my Beach Boys story before but it bears repeating. Prior to the 90s, I was not a fan. Like many rock fans who started listening to music seriously in the mid-70s, the Beach Boys were a joke, an oldies band singing outdated surf-rock. Sure, in my time coming across best albums list, I did hear of Pet Sounds but never took time to explore.(more…)
Last time out, we explored the idea that there were four fundamental music genres viz. classical, traditional, popular and avant grade. Now, obviously this is a blog about pop culture (I think our name gave the game away!) and so we can truly now focus on popular music genres.(more…)
An introduction to the best XTC songs of all time!
XTC is one of the best bands of all time. That’s an opinion I expressed in an earlier post. The Swindon band originally consisted of Andy Partridge (vocals, guitar), Colin Moulding (vocals, bass), Terry Chambers (drums) and Barry Andrews (keyboards). Andrews departed in 1978 to be replaced by Dave Gregory (guitars) while Chambers left the band in 1982 when he emigrated to Australia. The band was reduced to a duo for its final two albums, when Gregory parted ways with XTC in 1998.(more…)
An introduction to the best Beatles songs of all time.(more…)
1991 was the year punk broke. Or so we thought. While the alternative rock genre became mainstream in the early part of the 1990s, it really signalled the end of rock’s dominance over the music industry. The mic had been passed to hip-hop and its influence over pop culture remains unrivalled to this day.(more…)