Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ken Sharp's Power Pop Heroes Return!

The 2nd part of Ken Sharp’s exhaustive history of the power pop genre, PLAY ON! Power Pop Heroes, Volume 2 has now been released. The massive book covers the 70s & early 80s and features excellent interviews with bands such as Cheap Trick, The Ramones, Utopia & Squeeze. In addition to the exhaustive coverage of those groups, Sharp also profiles such lesser known (to the casual fan) but still influential bands such as Shoes, Blue Ash, The Toms, The Records & XTC. Like Volume 1, which I reviewed here;, the book is an amazing achievement. If you’re a fan of this music, you’ll love it. It’s 754 pages of pure power pop nirvana. As always, the prolific & talented Mr. Sharp (who's written extensively about rock music & is a talented musician) deserves kudos for a job well done.

You’ll encounter great stories & recollections from artists & band members, including John Waite of The Babys, Billy Squier of Piper and the one & only Rick Springfield. There’s in depth analysis & discussion of key albums & songs by the bands following their profiles. What’s especially cool about this edition is that it features the second generation of power pop rockers. These bands were influenced by the progenitors of the genre, including The Beatles, The Kinks & The Who. Want to know more about Dwight Twilley, Sweet, The Rubinoos or Pezband? Maybe you're intrigued after hearing a couple of songs by these bands, but want to know more before digging deeper into their catalog? You’ve come to the right place. Sharp treats these groups with the same love & affection as the big names. He has a knack (no pun intended) for making his interview subjects feel at ease, which is why the content here is more detailed (and insightful) than what's usually found in books of this type. 

This is a thoroughly enjoyable work that will appeal to true power pop fanatics, and music devotees who want to know more about this sometimes under-appreciated genre. Sadly, PLAY ON! Power Pop Heroes, Volume 2 is currently out of print. It sold out of its limited print run very quickly, just like Volume 1. There was eventually a small reprint run of the first book, so it’s possible this will be done with Volume 2 as well. Keep an eye out at: The site has a lot of info on power pop artists and has a lot of great items for sale. The final book in the series will be published later this year and will feature artists like Jellyfish, Matthew Sweet and Marshall Crenshaw. I’m very excited about that one, and can’t wait to see what cool information the brilliant Mr. Sharp gives us about the third generation of power pop rockers.

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