A playlist of fifteen power pop tunes for you to explore. This isn’t a complete overview of the genre or its artists, just a sampler of some personal favorites. Feel free to add comments or your own suggestions below:
1. Matthew Sweet – I’ve Been Waiting. A wonderful ballad from his classic album Girlfriend (1991). A great record from start to finish; there's not a bad song on the disc.
2. Cheap Trick – Come On, Come On. You could pick any number of songs from this band for a list like this, but check out this number from In Color (1977), which has turned up on a couple of power pop compilations.
3. The Orange Humble Band – Down In Your Dreams from Assorted Creams (1997). A supergroup featuring Mitch Easter (a producer for bands like REM & Marshall Crenshaw), Ken Stringfellow of The Posies and Daryl Mather of The Someloves. The song is one of the highlights of this excellent album.
4. Badfinger - No Matter What from No Dice (1970). One of the best power pop songs from one of the greatest power pop bands ever.
5. Jellyfish - All I Want is Everything. Queen meets Cheap Trick meets The Beatles on this track from the pop-tastic Bellybutton (1990).
6. Nazz – Open My Eyes from Nazz (1968). Todd Rundgren’s early band rocks this track with some blazing guitar and swirling vocals and production. Recently covered by The Bangles on their 2011 release, Sweetheart of The Sun, which was produced by none other than Matthew Sweet.
7. The Merrymakers - April’s Fool. These power pop masters from Sweden only released two albums, but they’re both fine examples of the genre. This song (featuring Abba-esque keyboards and Beatlesque harmonies) is a highlight of their 2nd release, Bubblegun (1997). Co-leader David Myhr just released his solo debut, Soundshine (for more on The Merrymakers & Myhr, see reviews elsewhere on this blog).
8. Raspberries – Go All The Way from Raspberries (1972). Eric Carmen & the boys plead with their girl, to…well….go all the way on this classic tune.
9. Will & The Bushmen – Book Of Love. Led by Nashville based singer-songwriter Will Kimbrough, this group has a nice alternative-ish, jangly 80s sound. This song can be found on 1989’s Will & The Bushmen.
10. Big Star - When My Baby’s Beside Me from #1 Record (1972). Alex Chilton (a former member of The Box Tops) along with Chris Bell and Jody Stephens, practically perfected the modern power pop sound with this record.
11. Brendan Benson - A Whole Lot Better. A member of the Raconteurs alongside Jack White, Benson has also been turning out wonderful pop/rock solo albums since 1996. This is the rocking first track from from 2009's fine album My Old, Familiar Friend. Benson just released his latest disc, What Kind of World, this past week.
12. Fountains of Wayne - Someone To Love. These guys been making great music since they formed in the mid 90s, and are best known for their Cars-influenced hit Stacy’s Mom. This fantastic tune is from 2007’s Traffic & Weather.
13. L.E.O. – Distracted from Alpacas Orgling (2006). A group of indie music stars, including Mike Viola of The Candy Butchers, Andy Sturmer of Jellyfish, and singer-songwriter Bleu, formed this band to pay tribute to the sound & style of Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra. The album sounds like a cross between ELO & The Traveling Wilburys (crossed with a bit of rockabilly) and is a fun listen.
14. Marshall Crenshaw – For Her Love from Field Day (1983). A standout song from Crenshaw’s underrated sophomore disc.
15. Bill Lloyd – Lisa Anne. Best known as half of the country duo Foster & Lloyd, Bill has also recorded some fine pop/rock albums as a solo artist. This is one of the best tracks from Feeling The Elephant (1986).