An excerpt from the new book, Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide (Not Lame Publishing) by John M. Borack
TEN POWER POP SONGS (that aren't often considered power pop)
A list by Bill Holdship
1) "Green River" — Credence Clearwater Revival:
If pop is all about hooks and riffs, this one has it in spades...not to mention one of the greatest lines in all of rockdom with "Barefoot girls dancing in the moonlight," which obviously influenced King Harvest's "Dancin' In The Moonlight," which many also may not consider a power pop song. And if you're still not convinced, the Hollies loved this sound so much that they went and scored a hit with a "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress," the greatest CCR song ever not created by CCR. You're gonna tell me the Hollies weren't a power pop band?
2) "Tired of Toeing the Line" — Rocky Burnette:
All these years later, I'm still not sure what they were trying to market Rocky, but this song is as power pop as they come — and better than almost everything else on the radio that summer of 1980. Rocky has seemingly disappeared from the limelight, but he once sat in my living room with his good friend Dwight Twilley watching bootleg Beatles videos. Can't get any more power pop than that!
3) "Bad Time" — Grand Funk Railroad:
Growing up in Michigan, I didn't realize I was supposed to hate Grand Funk until I grew up and became a rock critic. I'd still argue that if rock is supposed to be funny, unintentionally or not, these guys were one of the greatest. "We're an American Band" was as brilliantly stoopid as the Ramones (certainly another unheralded power pop band). Even if you can't stand their proto-metal output, this hit single (from the "Locomotion" era) stands as a pure power pop gem. My brother's band has performed this, as well as the aforementioned Rocky Burnette tune, at power pop fests for years to much overall approval.
4) "Under My Wheels" — Alice Cooper:
A rock classic, you can play it alongside one of the rockers from the Stones' Exile on Main Street and it'll hold its own. Likewise, you can play it alongside the Raspberries and it'll hold its own there as well.
5) "Please Mr. Postman" — The Beatles:
OK, I'm assuming I don't really have to convince anyone here that the Fabs were/are the greatest power pop band of all time. It mostly all started there. Nevertheless, this track gets short thrift. Sure, the Beatles were the sum of all the influences that have been documented so many times in the past — but what really made the Beatles' sound unique and drove them into power popdom was their strong "girl group" influence. Here, they took a Motown pop-soul hit that was really good, not quite great, and transformed it into a power pop classic. Along with Buddy Holly's "Words of Love" (which they unbelievably improved), it's their greatest and most telling cover song. (And to prove that it isn't inherently a great pop tune, one only has to compare the Carpenters' lame version. I love the Carpenters...but that one sucked. Not as bad as Pearl Jam's cover of "Last Kiss" sucked ... but still pretty bad nevertheless).
6) "Switchblade Sister" — Redd Kross:
For some reason, these wacky guys are more often labeled "punk," "pseudo-metal," even "bubblegum" than they are power pop. They're a great power pop band and they have a ton of tunes that would be appropriate on this list. But perhaps none more so than this non-album release, which is perhaps the greatest T. Rex rip-off of all the other T. Rex rip-offs combined. One of the greatest live bands of the genre as well.
7) "Alex Chilton" — The Replacements:
Like Redd Kross, these guys have a ton of songs that could make this list. Might as well go with this one, though, as it pays homage to the founder of Big Star. ‘Nuff said. (Personally, I slightly prefer "Left of the Dial," featuring a line — "Pretty girls keep growing up, playing makeup wearing guitar" — that's as evocative and brilliant as Fogerty's aforementioned "Barefoot girls" line. I obviously like the mention of girls in my pop song, even more so than cars …)
8) Anything by Neil Sedaka:
One of the underrated greats, he seems all but forgotten these days. But I've been thinking about him lately...and his list of songs (Google him) remains awe-inspiring. Plus, he wrote the wonderful "When Love Comes Knockin' at Your Door" for the Monkees — and I'm going to state for the record that any modern power popper who won't admit to loving More of the Monkees at least at one time or another is probably a damn liar and much too concerned about being "hip."
9) "Queen Of Eyes" — The Soft Boys:
Robyn Hitchcock also doesn't get heralded enough in this particular arena for his blend of Syd Barrett, John Lennon and Dylan … especially in his earliest phases. Some aficionados will argue that Kimberly ("Walking on Sunshine") Rew brought even more of a pop sensibility to this band. Whatever the case, this sounds a lot like the psychedelic Byrds … if the Byrds had been slightly psychotic in addition to psychedelic.
10) "All Summer Long" — The Beach Boys:
Complicated Brian Wilson is great Brian Wilson, of course — but I'll argue that this is as magnificent as anything on Pet Sounds or Smile. Hell, I'd make the same claim of "Surfer Girl." That one's even got "girl" in its title — and like I said, I like girls in my favorite pop songs.
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