Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Power Pop Covers

Power Pop Covers
One of the great things about Power Pop bands, is they love to cover each other's music, and much of that has to do with the fact that all power pop artists are music lovers first and foremost. They know and appreciate great music when they hear it, and especially love to play the underappreciated pop gem.
The Move
The Move is an incredibly under-appreciated band here in America (just try and find one of their albums that isn't an import.) It was led by the pop genius Roy Wood, and in their latter days became a two-headed pop monster with Jeff Lynne joining the group. This list contains four songs by The Move, with two from Wood ("California Man" and my favorite "I Can Hear the Grass Grow") and two from Lynne ("Do Ya" - which he first covered himself in ELO, and "Message from the Country".) Cheap Trick's great cover of "California Man" created some minor interest in The Move, but it was brief and fleeting. At about the time Lynn joined The Move (1971,) Lynne and Wood decided to start a side-project called Electric Light Orchestra, that was supposed to "pick up where 'I Am The Walrus' left off." Wood quit while working on their second record (the hard to find ELO II) to pursue another challenge and formed Wizzard, with The Move left to die out.

Blondie - Parallel Lines
Blondie's 1978 album Parallel Lines featured two songs written by The Nerves' Jack Lee, including the great "Hanging on the Telephone." Cheap Trick recorded "Dancing the Night Away" (The Motors) at Epic's insistence, to flesh out their Todd Rungren produced album Next Position Please.

This Mortal Coil
Big Star's Alex Chilton and Chris Bell were definetly under-appreciated artists with plenty of songs to mine from. The 4AD collective, This Mortal Coil, covered four of their songs, with two by Chilton on one album (including "Holocaust" sung by The Buzzcocks' Howard Devoto) and two by Bell on another (including "You and Your Sister" sung by The Breeders' Kim Deal and Tanya Donnely.) The Gin Blossoms, who owed a lot to power pop great Tommy Keene, recorded the Chilton/Bell classic "Back of a Car" (Loud Family also recorded a great version.) The Posies recorded a couple Bell songs, "Feel" and the included classic "I Am the Cosmos." These covers even prompted Big Star to reform and call on The Posies to fill out their lineup.

The Replacements were also known to give power pop props, with Paul Westerberg's great homage to "Alex Chilton" ("I never travel far without a little Big Star") so it's not surprising to see them on this list with a live cover of The Only Ones' "Another Girl, Another Planet," which was also covered by The Mighty Lemon Drops and Greg Kihn.

Velvet Crush
Power pop greats Velvet Crush covered a lot of artists including Teenage Fanclub ("Everything Flows") and 20/20 ("Remember the Lightning".)

Some other great lost power pop classics that were covered here are "Starry Eyes" (The Records) by Too Much Joy, "Shake Some Action" (The Flaming Groovies) by Cracker, "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" (The Rubinos) by Farrah, and "Girl of My Dreams" (Bram Tchaikovsky) by The Bomb Bassets (which somehow got left off of my playlist but you can add it here.)

Cheap Trick - Silver
In 1998, Cheap Trick were approached by television producers to have their song "Surrender" used for an as yet named project that would take place in the late 70's. Guitarist/Songwriter Rick Nielsen rejected the idea, and instead "That 70's Show" ended up using Big Star's "In The Street", getting permission Chris Bell's estate. After the show became popular, Cheap Trick agreed to do a version of "In the Street" for the show, so we now have the rare occurence of two power pop bands at once being represented on prime time TV. Included here is a live version captured for their recent live album, Silver.

Power Pop 1966-1978 - Pioneers
Power Pop 1980-1989 - Charts & Excess
Power Pop 1990-1999 - 90s Flourish
Power Pop 1999-? - New Centurians


drake leLane said...

Power Pop Covers

* "California Man" - Cheap Trick
* "Hanging On The Telephone" - Blondie
* "Dancing The Night Away" - Cheap Trick
* "Holocaust" - This Mortal Coil
* "Another Girl, Another Planet - (live)" - The Replacements
* "September Gurls" - The Bangles
* "Million Miles Away" - Goo Goo Dolls
* "Everything Flows" - Velvet Crush
* "You And Your Sister" - This Mortal Coil
* "Starry Eyes" - Too Much Joy
* "I Am The Cosmos" - The Posies
* "Back Of A Car - (previously unreleased)" - Gin Blossoms
* "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" - Grip Weeds
* "Cruel To Be Kind" - Letters to Cleo
* "Shake Some Action" - Cracker
* "Remember The Lightning" - Velvet Crush
* "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" - Farrah
* "I'm On Fire" - The Brain Surgeons
* "Picture Book" - Bill Lloyd
* "What I Like About You" - Lillix
* "Do Ya" - Jason Falkner
* "Message From the Country" - The Balls Of France
* "That 70's Song (In The Street)" - Cheap Trick
* "Baby Blue" - Mary Lou Lord
* "No Matter What" - Guilty Pleasure
* "Pictures of Lily" - Taggart
* "Girl of My Dreams" - The Bomb Bassets (was cut off list somehow, click to add)

Jack Graham said...

And yeah, it's really frustrating to me as well that The Move aren't on Rhapsody. How I would love to hear "Do Ya" as an original.

drake leLane said...

It's much better then ELO's version, believe me.

I'd just be happy if any American label would do a reissue, or compilation of The Move. Seems like a no-brainer to me, but I imagine there's more to it then there being a demand for it.

J Shifty said...

Wow. You've done it once again, Drake. This whole series was enjoyable, educational, well-researched, and easy on the eyes.

Oh yeah, and the playlists are good fun, too (almost forgot about them)! I keed, I I Keed.

Patrick said...

What about Tommy Keene's version of "Hey, Little Child"?

drake leLane said...

that's a great one... unfortunately, it's not digitally available, so it didn't make my list.

which is another reminder that someone needs to get Alias Records' catalogue some distribution! Keene's best album along with Archers of Loaf and American Music Club should be enough of payoff, I'd think.